In the Spotlight: The Magical Colors of Hsu Studios

Last edited: 10/25/2019
"Santaluna," mobile of anodized aluminum pieces, 70" in diameter. Santaluna means "equilibrium" in Hindi.

Beautiful bursts of color. That's what Hsu Studios of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, creates with anodized aluminum. Carol and Jean-Pierre Hsu turn it into jewelry, wall art, and mobiles, and many people clearly love it.

For a long time, Carol and Jean-Pierre worked in separate studios, one for metal and one for clay. In 1984, they merged their talents and became Hsu Studios. Jean-Pierre spoke with us about their choice of materials, saying, "The medium we currently work with is aluminum, one of the most ubiquitous materials in the world. As a basic element in almost every industry, we enjoy the challenge of creating uncommon works with a common material."

"Long Moln" earrings from Hsu Studios. Moln means "cloud" in Swedish.

Now, there are many ways to color metal. The anodizing that Hsu Studios does is aluminum anodizing—a different process from the titanium and niobium anodizing you may have seen on Rio's website or read about here on The Studio. (If you're interested in learning more about anodizing titanium and niobium, check out this post by Ashli Brooke Taylor, Creating & Coloring Jewelry with Reactive Metals and Anodizing.)

Instead of titanium and niobium, Jean-Pierre and Carol begin with mill-finish aluminum, which they texture and anodize before creating their pieces. Aluminum anodizing is an electrochemical process of oxidizing and then dyeing the surface of the metal, which creates an infinite array of colors.

Carol and Jean-Pierre have developed a line of anodized aluminum jewelry that is vibrant, contemporary, and physically light-weight—a benefit of aluminum. He says, "Change is always important to us. We continually explore new possibilities of design and technique, from the small scale of jewelry to much more voluminous mobiles and sculpture. Also, color is always a predominant element of our work."

Through color, form, and line, Hsu Studios brings balance to their designs. Their earrings and other pieces of jewelry are small mobiles expressing equilibrium, not just through visual design elements but also through the material distribution of weight. "We see mobiles expressing balance in our lives," Jean-Pierre explains, "family, community, work, and environment. Dynamic line and motion together display interdependence to the whole. We choose simple lines, showing form and giving each piece character of expression, movement, and depth."

"Tarka" pin, 2.25" square. Tarka means "dawn" in Hindi.

Carol observes an exciting relationship that develops between customers and their Hsu Studios jewelry. "We encourage our customers to choose earrings with asymmetry and liveliness that may go beyond their standard comfort zone. They usually come back for even more color and challenge with each additional pair. It's a very rewarding interaction when someone reaches beyond their personal norms and leans toward a new arena of confidence," she says.

As West Virginia artists, Hsu Studios is an active, creative part of a vital arts community. They have participated in juried craft fairs and numerous exhibitions across the country for close to 40 years. They also create special order, custom-designed mobiles and wall-pieces in any scale. "We spend most of our time in our studio with our production lines which are available at craft galleries and museum stores across the country."

Hsu Studios participates in various art events and if you are in one of the following areas, you can see their beautiful work in person. They participate in the Berkeley Springs Studio Tour; the American Craft Council Shows; including those in San Francisco and Baltimore; the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, Massachusetts in October; and the Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show in November.

We were so pleased to get to speak with Hsu Studios and hope that you enjoyed seeing another side of coloring metal through anodizing. If you have questions, leave us a comment. And, of course, don't forget to stop by the Hsu Studios website, where there's even more magic to see.

The pieces created at Hsu Studios add artistic flair in both public and residential settings.