Sum & Substance: Tony Esola

Sum & Substance: Tony Esola

Tony Esola Iron Clad V

Iron Clad V, 2013, iron fixtures, nickel silver, aluminum, 5.25 x 1.5 x 1 in.; Photo: Tony Esola

Ironing may be a lost art, but most of us connect heat and steam on a flat surface with a certain crispness and finesse. For Tony Esola, the lowly iron conjures more: It’s a link to the past and to the unnamed designers and craftsmen behind such domestic tools. For his Iron Clad series, says Marilyn da Silva, Esola dissected vintage appliances and reassembled the components into jewelry incorporating iconic design elements.

How he got started: My first exposure to making jewelry was in junior college, where I took classes in the process of lost-wax casting. At the time it wasn’t so much making jewelry but more the technique and the craft that intrigued me the most.

His training: After Sacramento City College, I moved to the Bay Area in 1998 to attend California College of the Arts, where I pursued a BFA in jewelry/metal arts.

His artistic influences: With regard to Iron Clad, I could cite artists such as Ken Cory, Kiff Slemmons, and Clayton Bailey. But it is the unknown designers and craftsmen behind everyday objects who inspire me the most.

How he describes his work: Playful, interactive, and inspired by vintage and antique aesthetics.

What makes his work unique: I want my work to be intriguing to the viewer. I intend to draw from the vintage as a mechanism to bridge the past to the present.

His biggest challenge: Completing a piece to my satisfaction. Finding the perfect balance between aesthetic, concept, and craftsmanship can be difficult but also most rewarding. Composing a piece in perfect order is much like solving a puzzle; the pieces will tell me where they belong