In conversation with Tabea Reulecke, initator of the international Summer Academy in Idar-Oberstein

Interview  /  Artists   BehindTheScenes   Education   CarolinDenter
Published: 26.07.2017
Tabea Reulecke Tabea Reulecke
Carolin Denter
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For the third time the Trier University of Applied Sciences opens its workshops to jewellery designers and students. In eight different workshops the participants will be able to discover new artistic horizons and/or techniques and implement those into their own artistic creations. The workhops will be held by artists from Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany and Portugal. In addition to the workshops there will be options to do excursions to jewellery merchants, as well as visits to the agate and coppermines within the Idar-Oberstein area.
Tabea, for the third time the International Summer Academy (ISA) has invited a group of international artists to hold a series of workshops. Can you tell us about this years course plan and the teachers?
With the years and the feedback from past participants, ISA is always trying to combine an attractive programme for participants with different levels of skills and experience in the field of jewellery. You can either choose one workshop or combine it with another one. The main focus is stones and gemstones. This year we offer lapidary courses "cut, grind, polish" with Alexander Friedrich for the third time and an experimental workshop "geological experiences" with Patricia Domingues. Both have studied at Campus Idar-Oberstein and graduated in 2012 and 2014. 

Peter Vermandere, now for the second time, is teaching various ways of casting metal "cast in, cast out and cast away" is his theme this year. He felt in love with Idar-Oberstein since he came here as an artist in resident in 2014. For the first time, ISA offers workshops in CAD and Adobe programmes. "digital artisanship" with Tanja Falkenhayner and "graphic design workshop" with Laura Jack. Maarja Niinemägi from Estonia specialty is the anodizing of Titanium. She will introduce you to all colour varieties and which equipment you need to make your own anodizing kit.

In March 2017 Daniela Malev published her book "To The Point- pin mechanisms and brooch back design", which is a compendium on brooches and pin mechanisms. In her workshop, you will make appropriate needle solutions for your brooches. Petr Dvorak's focus is on PUK, micro welding. It has brought a tremendous expression enrichment together with new technical and technological workflows. Not only various materials such as titanium, steel, niobium, and aluminum can be welded, but also welded joints can be found in the immediate vicinity of stone, glass, plastic, and wood. 

Besides these fantastic workshops, we offer a side programme with lectures (Martina Dempf and others), dance class with Kika Rufino, performance with Natalia Olarte and outdoor art cinema.)

Cutting and polishing a Stone at the Stoneworkshop of Campus Idar-Oberstein

What means the City and the Campus Idar-Oberstein for the International Summer Academy?
The city itself, the area Hunsrück and campus Idar-Oberstein give the perfect base for a successful summer academy. In Idar-Oberstein all kind of different people from the world meets to do gemstone trading. Here you can meet the lapidary masters and watch how they turn a rough one into a faceted stone, walk in the pedestrian areas, where you get overwhelmed by all stone products. Or you simply enjoy nature, where you can find your own precious stones. Campus Idar-Oberstein invites you to well-equipped varieties of studios. Stone cutting, gold smithing, casting, CAD printing...many things are possible here.

Rough gemstone shopping at Impexco GmbH in Idar-Oberstein

When you graduated, what were your personal expectations, about your future and practice?
I graduated twice. In 2006 and 2015. After the first time, I was eager to work in a job, as I did for six years. I gained a lot of experience in teaching, organizing, managing, being responsible for others and so on. I felt supported by my team, which always pushed me in winning more experience in the things which concerned me and which were good for the Campus as well. Of course, I continued to build up my reputation as a jewellery artist. 24 hours never seemed enough, but I was able to make my exhibitions and get recognized by a big audience.
After my second graduation in MFA, I had a different dream. I wanted to create more summer, autumn, winter and spring academies around the globe, where people create their temporary learning communities and share knowledge and skills. So far it is happening at Campus Idar-Oberstein. This has a big value to me because learning never stops and still there are things to develop each time. By now I can share my responsibilities and enjoy more of working less;)

Tabea Reulecke at the Stoneworkshop, the so called "Heart" of the Campus Idar-Oberstein

Why did you decide to found the International Summer Academy in 2015?
The idea of establishing a summer academy was spinning in my head already since a long time. This dream didn´t let me rest.
I used to be an assistant for six years at Campus Idar-Oberstein. Each semester holidays I had to spend a lot of time in almost empty studios and workshops. Of course, I took the time to work on my own pieces and development, but I was always wondering and imagining how I could build off and be part of a larger learning community and so the seeds for the summer academy were first planted. As we all know, imagination can help to go through processes, through a discussion, through a happening, through a complete event, but they always stay imaginations, if you don´t start to realize them. At that time I didn't know what the main goal of the summer academy should be and who would be part of that community - who would teach, and who would learn but I started to imagine….

Student Clodagh Molloy during the casting Workshop of Peter Vermandere

Tell us, what do you think about the education in the field of art jewellery as we experience it nowadays?
16 years ago I started as an internship in a traditional gold smithery and continued further in a metal design studio. For one year I learned all the basic skills and was able to realize my first creations. 

When I began my studies in Idar-Oberstein, I had no idea of what art jewellery was - no idea of the possibilities you have and of how you could work in a "free" way. I discovered the immense variety of materials and that jewellery is a media with so many variations. Everything was allowed. Only me could set the limits. Art jewellery is just a very small part in the big world of jewellery. There are so many definitions, like fine jewellery, design jewellery, conceptual jewellery, contemporary jewellery, handcraft jewellery…

My profession as a teacher started in 2007. I have seen the process of many students from the beginning till their graduation. But as well temporary processes during workshops. I think it´s very important to use your time as a student for being as crazy and brave as possible, to try out, make experiments and research. You are in an environment which supports your ideas, so no reason to be shy or wait for later. But what happens after you have finished? How to continue? What do you want? These are important questions and you should be honest with yourself.

I was lucky to get a job straight after my graduation and the time for continuing with my own works. A monthly income insured my process in making pieces which didn´t need to be sellable. I could continue to feel free in making without limitations and even without a care about wearability, prices and so on. Like this my works got attention and they were lucky to take part in many exhibitions.
During my travel, I recognized which pieces I was wearing myself. And noticed, that they had to be wearable. These were earrings, which I made myself, a brooch for good luck of my great grand mother, a medallion of my mother for protection and a ring of my friend. When I forgot to put them on in its special purpose I really missed them. I believed in their meaning and I was emotionally attached.

I started to think more about the pieces I was making in the past and would consider them now as art jewellery. They look like jewelry and are somehow possible to wear. Maybe like Magritte's painting: "Ceci n est pas un pipe!" Once I visited a small village in Thailand where I met a silk making communities of old ladies. One of them won many prices because her fabrics were always special and I asked if she considered herself an artist. She looked surprised and addressed this question to her friend, who said, that she always invented a new pattern in her fabrics, compared to the others, who stuck to the ordinary rules.

I have seen much art jewelry and many pieces which don´t stick to traditional rules, but I still think, as long it´s meant to be worn it should be wearable. And if it´s not wearable it's still a creation of yours and will also get its attention, but rather a good one than "Why isn't the lock working and the needle unsharp?" ;)

How does this influence the programme of the International Summer Academy?
I have chosen artists, who are masters in their technique and who are flexible and open to leave conventional ways and find their special detours, like the silk lady from Thailand.
For me, the atmosphere is extremely important. You can call me harmony addicted, but I emphasize with the participants and they shall have a great time here be satisfied in their course and take knowledge and new skills back home. The team is great. Working with their courses, but as well interacting during breaks, lunch and evening programme.
We spend all day together. Usually from 9 am - 7 pm. A student cooking team provides healthy food and even takes care of those participants who have special allergies. Statistics proof: good food makes you feel satisfied, so this is another point we take care of:)
By now we have regular guests, who even come with their families. One Bulgarian family father, mother, and their daughter took part in different workshops to combine their new won skills and work together.

Work of Claudia Stebler during the engraving Course with Sabine Wehr

You are an established maker, lecturer, teacher, and consultant. What led you to such a rich and varied career?
Haha, I don't know, how it all happened and still, I keep surprising myself. But these are possibilities everyone can have if you are confident with your profession and do the things you like. Take care of your contacts!

When you look back, teaching was one of the most important fields for you. How do you see your role as an organizer? How does it influence your decisions?
To build my learning community I had to be part of the network - to integrate with it, so that while I flowed into other cultures, by teaching at different schools, learning from others of different cultures, trying new tastes, at the same time I built a network along which others could also flow and become part of this global learning community experience.
To start, I needed to leave my valley of Idar-Oberstein so I tested my wings, which I let grew all those years and was wondering, where they could bring me.

During the two years as a Master of Fine Arts, I experienced a lot. Three continents, nine countries, I had eight group and four solo exhibitions, and five workshops for more than 100 students.
My imaginations became real and going through processes I realized that everything could also change in an instance. It's not always easy to fly, and I have experienced more than one thunderstorm, to realize that clouds were manmade. Instead of feeling sad or angry I had the choice to adapt to the new wind.

When I put a foot on the Chinese Wall in 2014 it had been an important moment to me. It reminded me of myself as a teenager and the wish of becoming an architect. Definitely, my interest would have been in building bridges instead of walls. Nowadays I am creating bridges, that join together our learning community network.

So far, I have been standing on one side of the bridge as a guest teacher. I got invited to give different workshops in Universities, academies, and private schools. I gained knowledge about various approaches and systems and learned to compare and develop my personal likes and dislikes. Now it was time to cross the bridge, stand on the other side as a project manager and bring others into our valley.

Colombian Artist Natalia Olarte during her performance "Khali", she will perform at this years ISA

What are the most important insight and experience you take from each year's International Summer Academy?
During the first year, I was managing the project and participants, documenting it for PR, cooking with a little team and taking care of organizing materials and tools if needed. I was jumping from one spot to the other, which led me to the point to have assistants for the second year. So I invited you Caro for taking care of promoting and documenting it during the happening and it felt great to work in a team.
Anonymous feedbacks with several questions I evaluated and thought about improvements for the next year. This year, for example, everyone will be able to use the internet with his/her own devices;)

After 3 years of success, is there anything you would like to change about it?
Even though I am very grateful to be able to use all the Campus facilities and collaborate with the University of Trier I am dreaming of to have my own International Summer Academy one day or travel as a supervisor if other Academies wish to establish their own.

Could you describe a day in your life as an artist, maker, teacher, lecturer, and consultant?
That´s a funny question because I am never all in one day. Usually, I have periods in which I work more in one or the other field. I do a better job when I separate it and be focused. A day as an artist and maker: I always start in a clean and organized space. Everything, which is not at its aesthetic place distracts me. So this means in the evenings I leave an organized workbench, preferably empty. As an artist, I live in my own world and my own rhythm.
As a teacher, lecturer, and consultant I am focused on the students. I like the process of playing ball with each other. I give them something and they react, then I react,...and so on. I feel very concentrated and aware of atmosphere, group changes, and single conditions. Tabea Reulecke is stepping back.

And now please tell us, what excites you most about this year International Summer Academy?
First of all, I am happy to welcome back our regular participants. Some of them return for the third time and saw this baby ISA growing during the past two years.

Participants of the ISA come from all over the world

I am constantly working on an exciting evening programme, which includes lectures by the teachers, but as well invited guests like last year Lucia Nieves from Puerto Rico. This year we have the pleasure to listen to Martina Dempf's lecture about: " From the Global Village: Contemporary Jewellery and Local Design"…
Participants will get the insight of her teaching method and her workshops and can already apply for her workshop planned for 2018.
Friday afternoons I have my emotional moment while giving out the participation certificates.

I am not an architect, but I can create bridges between people. This is my biggest personal pleasure.

About the Interviewee

Tabea completed a Diploma in Gem and Jewellery design, Idar-Oberstein, 2006. Since 2007 she has been an assistant at Idar-Oberstein. She has lectured and held workshops in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Tabea has held numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide. In July 2015 Tabea Reulecke graduated as Master of Fine Arts from the Department of Gemstone and Jewellery at the Trier University of Applied Science. Her graduation project took physical shape in August 2015, during the International Summer Academy 2015 at the Campus Idar-Oberstein. Since then the Summer Academy established and takes place every year. In 2017 Tabea was Hanau City Goldsmith.

About the author

Carolin completed her training as Goldsmith at Master School for Craftsmen in Kaiserslautern in 2013. In 2015 she made an Internship at Klimt02, where she is working since 2016 as Content Manager. In 2017 she graduated as Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein. After her graduation, she started working part time as Marketing and Design management Assistance at Campus Idar-Oberstein in the Gemstone and Jewellery Departement.