Tom Odell’s pieces—sculpture, jewelry, and hollowware—appear to be distinct modes of expression. But ultimately, it’s clear that they all inform each other. Whether it is an 18-carat yellow and white gold brooch, an eight-foot fabricated steel sculpture, or a beautifully simple bowl, all the metalwork is imbued with a clean, multidimensional aesthetic, each piece stamped pure Odell.
“The sculptural, three-dimensional aspects of all the work are my main concerns,” Odell says. “In every piece, the composition and design are in the forefront.” His jewelry is meant to be worn, but in a sculptural way, just as the client who purchases his cast bronze bench may rather gaze at it than sit on it. “All of the jewelry and hollowware pieces have a sculptural aspect, but a functional aspect as well,” Odell says.
The excitement for the Chatham resident is in creating “new things, new images that are compositions,” and balancing all the visual elements: shape, form, line, and color.
Odell went into jewelry making after he left college for a stint in woodworking with an architectural designer. After landing a job with former Cape Cod jeweler Bernard Kelly, Odell says, “I realized I wanted to make things.” His jewelry occupies two camps: pieces that are crafted in precious metals, including 18-carat gold and platinum, and pieces that add copper-based alloys used in traditional Japanese metalwork, perhaps treated with patina techniques.
His jewelry making evolved into sculpture. Odell says it’s a natural progression. “Bit by bit, you go from making jewelry to making larger things,” he says. Lately those “larger things” have been massive. He is currently working on an eight-foot freestanding sculpture for a client’s yard, all angles, flat plains, and triangular shapes, “a little different than the other things I’d been doing, which are more curved,” he says. Akin to the sculpture is his hollowware, now mostly cast bronze pieces finished with a patina technique for color.
Today, Odell and his wife, the artist Carol Odell, live in an 1800s Greek Revival house in downtown Chatham with a studio in back where the couple works on separate floors. His wife is an enormous inspiration. “We’re inventing problems for ourselves all the time,” Odell says with a laugh, “then creating an interesting visual solution.”