Monica Cielesz is a fellow copper artist. She works with the natural elements of fire and copper to create dynamic flame-painted woven pieces. While heat can be used to create beautiful colors on the metal, it is also extremely unpredictable. I asked her what inspires her pieces, and how she handles working with such a challenging technique. She spoke about the need for patience and letting go of perfect – two essential skills for artists, no matter their medium.
Here is her story.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am surrounded by the beauty of nature. While driving to stores, I look up and see the stunning Cascade or Olympic Mountains. Gazing outside my backyard while having breakfast, the swaying bamboo catches my eye, as well as the sunlight and shadows that fall across my flower garden. The long anticipated beautiful colors of spring, summer, and fall lift my heart. Nature creates a meditative environment. All this inspires my copper work. And there are times where an idea seemingly from nowhere pops into my mind that ends up in my work.
Working with fire and copper can be challenging and unexpected. Almost every time I change an aspect of my work, whether it’s the thickness of the copper or a larger size I’ve never attempted before, there are unexpected results or challenges. I’ve had many frustrating moments where I dive into a completely new piece and hit roadblocks. I’ve learned patience is important. And that it’s okay to set the torch down, walk away and ponder, and come back with a refreshed mind. I’ve also let go of the idea of ‘perfect’. I’m working with a medium that I don’t have 100% control over. If I don’t get a certain color or if something just doesn’t come out as expected, I’ve learned to work with it, work around it, or change it to something else.
At first, the pandemic threw a gray cloud over my world. All my art shows were canceled, which was really the only avenue I used to showcase my work (besides my website). Having the motivation to work decreased with every cancellation. However, two wonderful aspects opened up to me. First, I reached out through email to fellow artists who I met at shows. We shared ideas and support. Having those bonds with those artists were incredibly helpful throughout the past year. Second, I was able to experiment more. Without the stress of having to create specific artworks for a show, I let my mind wander and play. I took Zoom classes with Charissa Brock, an AMAZING bamboo artist based in Portland, OR and learned quite a bit about working with bamboo. I’m working now on incorporating bamboo into my copper work. I played with acrylics and other mediums. With a busy show schedule, I wouldn’t have had time to explore and play. This time has led me to new ideas with my copper work.
Thank you Monica for sharing both your work and your story.
Monica works under the name Aurora 21 Designs. You can find her on Instagram at @wovencopperart.