Hello Jean, Fredericka, and others interested in the history of
granulation. I am dismayed to hear once more that there was (is) an
opinion among some (albeit not first-hand), that John Paul Miller
did not teach granulation…or did so only to a few people. In
fact, this misconception was actually printed in Blauer’s book on
Contemporary Jewelry, and not very nicely at that. I have never
bought the book for that reason.
I was a student of JPM in the early 1980’s at the Cleveland
Institute of Art, where I learned the technique from him. In a class
of several people, I happened to be the only student who was
interested, the others being of the more “avant garde” persuasion. I
learned silver and gold granulation, asked all questions that I had,
and no answers were every withheld. Such has been the case for the
past 20 years, during which time I have been in close touch with
JPM, and call him if and when I need technical advice, which he
gladly gives. He is a kind and gentle man, and I agree, is the
best, most creative and should be recognized by the jewelry arts
community as a pioneer in this country for the technique.
I also attended the Jewelry Arts Academy, where I first heard this
false rumor. I was shocked. When it appeared in print, Mr. Miller
was also surprised and dismayed, but is a very private person and
did not want to become involved in a controversy. He was never the
type to seek notoriety for being “first”…he was simply fascinated
with the technique after seeing the work of Eleanor Treskow in
Germany and wanted to know more about its history and execution. He
is an artist and wants to do his work in peace. If he ever withheld
any technical from those he did not know, at a time when
he was experimenting and perfecting technique, I am not party to.
All I know is that a number of very prominent goldsmiths (including
John Marshall) learned from him and went on to teach. The work of
his students is distinctive, fine and obviously the result of having
been taught by a master. As you state, Oppi Untracht’s book contains
a technical explanation of granulation by Mr.Miller.
As we all know, granulation, as well as most other metalsmithing
techniques are ancient in origin. Their execution,“discovery”,
etc. belongs to no one. There seems to be little recognition
moreover, that the technique never “died” in Asia…reflective of
our narrow-minded vision of the world.
I hope that it may go on record, for those who will not have the
privilege of knowing John Paul Miller who is in his 80’s (and still
working), that he is not only a superb artist, but a dedicated
teacher and wonderful person.