Experiments in Making Objects
By Jean Cunningham
Carol Hammerman was exposed to a variety of art from a very early age and has been visualizing things seen or conceptualized into art forms ever since. Today, she creates art by experimenting with metals, stone, wood, and other materials to develop sculpted objects of her personal reactions to life and the current events around her. These result in her sculptures and wearable objects. Recently racial justice, COVID-19, and politics have been headliners, and some of her recent work reflects these topics. During her experimentation process, Hammerman often starts with small samples to see how the materials might be joined or how they look juxtaposed. These models end up being beautiful and attractive in their own right. She’ll might use these discoveries to create sculptures, and/or if the artist likes the shape and would wear it herself, she might create earrings and other wearable objects.
Hammerman normally works in two studios: one in the basement of her home and the other at Columbia College where she is an instructor—and where she learned many of her techniques. But during this COVID-19 era, all her work has been created at her home studio. There you will see wood and metal working tools along with many raw materials in waiting. She does material assemblage of many different shapes, so collecting and keeping materials on hand is very important part of her artistic process. COVID-19 also changed her process a bit. Just like a cook who looks into the freezer or pantry and figures out what meal to make, she would look at her large array of scattered materials and shapes decide what to create. She says the studio looks “trashed” from the amount of work created there over the last 18 months.
She has a self-confessed, high impact obsession to work with her hands. If Hammerman is away from her creative work for too long, she feels “grumpy”. Absence from the studio is not good for her. As often as possible, she tucks in studio time around must do activities. At one time, she found time during her children’s nap schedule. The children are long gone, but the habit remains.
When she needs to clear her head, Hammerman might take a walk to think and wonder. New ideas for her sculptures and wearables are launched in these walks often from the different objects, forms, and phenomena she sees all around her. What she sees are classic forms that she could handcraft and shapes she could create as wearables.
Hammerman says, “Shapes and forms converse with each other.” creating an interrelationship. And she knows how to make them talk in her objects.
With an idea in mind, the next steps of her process is to draw or sketch the idea, and develop a 3D model, often with cardboard. Then she identifies materials that will work. She is drawn to silver and black, pieces of reclaimed blackboard, ebony wood, or other ‘ready made’ materials from estate & garage sales.
Once she has the materials in hand, the next big gate for Hammerman is “can she make it?” Joinery is a critical element of her creations. How will it tie together? She experiments on how to “…connect the pieces in unorthodox ways. But it doesn’t always work. “Just because you can design something does not mean you can make it.”
If it passes the gate of “make-ability”, she will usually make two pieces or sets. Often in a less expensive metal such as copper first, and then with success maybe one of sterling silver or a combination of other metals. After the pieces are completed in their final form, she cleans them, photographs them, and posts them on her website to sell.
Making, not marketing, is Hammerman’s interest, but she tries to get visibility for her work through her website, open studio days hosted by Evanston Made, and the annual holiday sale at the Evanston Art Center.
If you would like to see or purchase Carol’s work, you can see more (and sign up for her mailing list) at www.carolhammerman.com , or her Etsy page (https://www.etsy.com/shop/hammermandesign )
Jean Cunningham is retired after a career in business management and finance. She has written three books and authored many articles in her field, was a speaker at conferences, and taught at the university level. While traveling for business she began painting and drawing for relaxation and collecting art. She and her husband have lived in Evanston for 11 years and are avid walkers of the town and lakeside. She has a BS from Indiana University and an MBA from Northeastern University.