Mendocino Art Center's Matilija Poppy Project

TOM HERMAN, ETHAN HERMAN and PATSY CROFT, leading lights in American metalsmithing, collaborated on the one-of-a-kind brooch of the Mendocino Art Center’s iconic Matilija Poppy. This exquisite piece was sold in auction for $38,000 by Sotheby’s in New York, on April 17. Proceeds benefit the Mendocino Art Center.

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In August of 2015, over breakfast in San Francisco, the conversation about the Matilija Poppy project began as a response to my entreaties for Tom Herman to come back to the MAC to teach. Tom began formulating a larger project - workshops that then would lead into participation in a collaborative piece which would benefit the Mendocino Art Center's jewelry program.

Tom Herman and Patsy CroftSoon thereafter Tom reached out to Patsy Croft and asked if she would co-create on the piece and perform her enameling magic as well as instruct a workshop on plique-à-jour enameling. The following year at the COMA 2016 conference, once again over breakfast, dates were set for the workshops to be held simultaneously with joint lectures and demonstrations, followed by the creation of a Matilija Poppy Brooch. Both Tom and Patsy were presenters that year at COMA where they introduced many of us to the Ada Brooch. It has been their mutual admiration and awe of this historic piece that has been the inspiration for their collaboration.

Two days of no electricity from the wild winter storms of January 2017 slowed us down a little but didn't stop the workshops nor the beginnings of the poppy brooch. By the second week it was apparent that a piece of this magnitude was going to take more time and dedication from these two artists than was possible during their time in Mendocino.

Back at their respective studios the work continued. Tom and son Ethan fabricated, chased, and carved each piece and then fused them in segments that could be disassembled for the enameling process and then reassembled. The Poppy was then sent to Patsy where, with her technical expertise, she brought the gold flower to life with vibrant color.

Now we are all very excited to announce Sotheby's acceptance of The Matilija Poppy for their spring auction - Magnificent Jewels 2019.

We here at the Mendocino Art Center are deeply grateful and humbled to be the recipients of such great generosity and support from Tom Herman and Patsy Croft. Our commitment to continuing a strong and vibrant educational program in metal arts has been reaffirmed and strengthened by this unparalleled donation. Thank you! 

Nancy Gardner
Jewelry/Metals Coordinator/Studio Manager
Mendocino Art Center












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The Mendocino Art Center is a very special place, located in a stunning, rural location, overlooking a rugged expanse of the Pacific Ocean, 150 miles north of San Francisco. It has been a haven for artists since 1959, when founders Bill and Jennie Zacha first realized the potential of this unique community as an artists' colony.

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Today the Mendocino Art Center is a highly regarded artistic and educational institution known for retreat-style classes led by superlative artist-instructors. More than 150 two- to five-day classes are offered each year in ceramics, fiber arts, fine art, jewelry/metal artsand sculpture.

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The art galleries feature monthly exhibitions spotlighting the creative works of local and national artists and the Mendocino Art Center continues to be at the heart of what makes the Mendocino Coast an enchanting and vibrant place to visit.