NFA student wins awards for pewter art

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Tue., Apr. 5, 2011
NFA student Faraline Clebert's pewter piece won a silver medal at the National Scholastic Arts Competition. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Faraline Clebert took her first jewelry and metal working class three years ago. It was an elective class – something outside of the required Norwich Free Academy curriculum – and the knowledge and talent it helped develop has led to significant recognition.

In three years, Clebert has won some serious prizes. She won a gold medal in the Connecticut Scholastic Art Competition for a metal bowl. That gold medal enabled her to enter the National Scholastic Art Competition, in which she received a silver medal in design. She even won a competition at the Afro-American Culture, Technology and Science Olympics. Her prize: an expenses-paid trip to Kansas City, Missouri, for a week to meet with students from all over the country.

“We had workshops. We explored the city,” Clebert said. “The competition came at the end of the week.”

And while she did not win a prize at AACT-SO, she felt like she won because it was such a great experience.

“You get to meet artists and network and go around the city,” she said. She met and made friends with people her age from all over the United States, and said that she wants to go to another AACT-SO.  

There were a lot of different judges for the competition. Hers told her not to give up. “She told me to pursue my dream,” said Clebert. “She inspired me.”

Clebert’s artistic career began when she decided to make a pewter bowl in her jewelry and metal working class. She didn’t want to make a simple bowl; she wanted a design in it. She liked apples, so she started looking at sketches and made her own. She thought about other fruit that she liked, that she might want to etch into the pewter of the bowl.

“I kept adding more to it,” she said. She added one thing after another. She worked slowly. “Pewter is a soft metal,” she explained. “You have to be really patient with it.”

Clebert said she almost gave up on the project, but her teacher, Daniel Charron, encouraged her.

The bowl started out as a flat piece of pewter. She had to etch her designs in a solution and clean it up before she could start shaping it into a bowl. She used a mallet and had to work slowly. For a finishing touch, she spray-painted pewter wire, twisted it, cleaned it up and worked it around the edges of the bowl. After soldering it, she was done.

“It took me five months to finish that bowl,” she said. “I almost gave up.”

Charron supported her throughout the project. Because of his support and because Clebert started believing in the work herself, she finished the project.

“He was so proud,” Clebert said of her teacher. “He told me, ‘This is your best work ever.’”

Charron was the one to suggest she enter the piece in a contest in the first place.

At first she didn’t want to enter a contest she had no hopes of winning. “But then I thought, why not?” she said.

With Charron’s help, Clebert filled out the paperwork to enter the competition.

“I’m really proud of that bowl,” she said. “My mom is in Haiti. She hasn’t seen it yet. She keeps hearing about all the awards I’ve won, so the next time I go there, I’m going to bring it so she can see it.”

Clebert is thinking about what to do next. She knows she will submit work to AACT-SO again. The next competition will be held in Los Angeles.

“I really want to win so I can go to L.A.,” she said. “I think some people don’t take advantage of all the opportunities that are available. Sometimes that little project that you do could become a big thing. If you have someone inspiring you to do something, take advantage of it. You never know what might happen with it.”

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