HELEN GOGA

Helen Goga’s enthusiasm for wire jewelry has led her on an amazing journey — an adventure beyond any of her expectations. As a wire jewelry artist, she recognized the infinite possibilities for making wire jewelry and self-expression. Striving for distinction, her jewelry designs reflect her personality and carry her unique artistic signature.

Originally motivated to build a family-based business making wire jewelry and selling it (where she could apply her business savvy), she left a managerial position. Using the same degree of dedication and determination she used throughout her business career, she taught herself the basics. As her skills improved, so did her passion for making wire jewelry.

Sharing her artistic insights led her to become the publisher/editor of The Wire Artist Jeweller magazine where she not only organized each issue but also photographed and wrote the instructions for the tutorials as well as several of the feature stories and articles.

Knowing how difficult it was for other wire jewelry artists to share their secrets — especially their wire jewelry designs — she led by example and generously contributed many clever and original jewelry designs of her own to The Wire Artist Jeweller.

As the driving force behind the magazine, Helen is well sought out for her jewelry lessons and tutorials. But what she is most proud of is how The Wire Artist Jeweller magazine helped build a sense of community for wire jewelry artists and how that generated interest for wire jewelry designs in other publications.

Though no longer publishing The Wire Artist Jeweller, Helen continues to support the wire jewelry community by periodically introducing new publications. Chains by Becky was released in the spring of 2006 and Earrings by Helen was made available in 2007. And now, with a little help from her friends, she has launched Wire Jewelry Lessons, where you can download jewelry lessons, tutorials and articles from all three publications.

In December 2010, Helen was featured on the radio program Metalsmith Benchtalk on Blog Talk Radio. The full interview with Helen can be listened to by clicking here.

BECKY GOGA

To those who love Becky Goga, she is fondly known as Pooky and, they add with a happy smile, "the spunky brat". They can't help themselves, for she epitomizes what it means to overcome adversity, and, they say with conviction, "She has done this with great style, in an unassuming way. Yes, there have been tears, but it's the laughter that she remembers."

When listed, these obstacles seem insurmountable: major craniofacial anomalies including premaxillary aplasia with midline clefting, hypotelorism, blindness in one eye, sensorineural hearing loss, edentulous jaws; cervical spondylosis with myelopathy; and tinnitus.

There were numerous facial reconstructions, major surgeries on her neck - three over a period of 1-1/2 years involving decompressive laminectomy C3-C7; 75% partial C3, C4 through C7 vertebral body removal with fusion using a fibular bond graft with application of halo-ring jacket; and further work on decompressing C2-C3) - and the removal of 26 impacted teeth and insertion of biocoral implantable material with later insertions of 10 dental implants followed by a fixed bridge and removable denture.

Becky's condition was the result of the translocation of chromosomes 6 & 7 causing holoprosencephaly & cleidocranial dysostosis. (Because of recent research on the Sonic hedgehog gene as a candidate gene responsible for holoprosencephaly, Becky's donation of her DNA to researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario eventually helped identify this gene.)

Those within the medical community who know her were some of the first to applaud her achievements and marvel at her spirit.

Whenever someone new meets this wonderful young lady, they assume that it has not been easy for her, but they are truly surprised at how much Becky has overcome. And how generous she is by passing along all those skills she has learned from others as they provided support and coaching throughout her personal journey. It's those skills that have made her a great jump-ring artist, and the amazing thing is . . . she has only just begun!

For each artist, their journey represents a personal quest that starts with a simple query and ends in an adventure. Along the way, they strive for acceptance and approval. This acknowledgment is no different than the very basic need we all have to be part of a family and community. This acceptance is based on our ability to love ourselves, our family, our neighbours and our fellow man. Becky calls it "belonging to the tribe".

As an artist, Becky credits another jump-ring artist, Ray Becker (see the October, 1999 issue), for inspiring her. Watching him transform a straight piece of wire into an intricate Byzantine pattern (known as King's Link) by simply using jump rings stirred in her the awakening of possibilities. When she worked through the pattern a few times, she saw another pattern and believed she had discovered a brand new design.

Six months later, when she was told the pattern was known as the Queen's Link, she was naturally disappointed. But, when she recognized that creative minds can often make similar discoveries, that within the long history of jewellery making it is truly rare to design a new pattern, she embraced something far more empowering - her ability to work out designs instinctively. And she is hopeful that one day she will design a chain that no one else has thought of.

Since that revelation almost 15 years ago, chain designs have been spilling out - with each new one comes as many as three or four others as variations or new ideas that present themselves while she is exploring a pattern. With all the chains that she has made, Becky may have already realized her dream of developing a new pattern with a chain she fondly calls 'DNA'.

Of those convictions Becky lives by, she unquestionably embodies her ability to ‘never give up’ because she knows that this would be the worst thing anyone could do to themselves. Throughout her life, adversity has been a great teacher but she regards success as even greater. She also believes that understanding your strengths and weaknesses, but focusing on your strengths, will definitely get results. And Becky embraces self-acceptance as the first step to being part of any community — no matter what tribe that may be.

No wonder those who love Becky cheer her on — to reflect on one’s achievements after such a journey is exhilarating. But it doesn’t stop there. Though Becky had expressed an interest in becoming a gemologist, she changed her focus and has been working towards a university degree in Social Justice and Peace. However, during her fourth year of studies (2010-2011), Becky was diagnosed with a massive meningioma (brain tumour). Determined not to let the tumour ‘rule’, she continued with her classes up to the last week of the school year before she took a medical leave of absence to undergo all-day surgery. At the time of the second reprinting of her book, Chains by Becky (July, 2011), she has been home under the watchful eyes of her Momma and Papa.

Over the summer months, Becky will be evaluated for radiation treatment and intends to return to her studies in the fall.

So, hats off to Pooky. By demonstrating your courage, you continue to prove to us that you are one remarkable young lady!

Becky, you are a true inspiration.

 

ALAN GOODING

Alan Gooding has spent more than 45 years in the publishing industry, having started his career in England. He is experienced in writing, public relations and printing but excels in graphic design. Though retired from publishing, he enjoys the occasional project, such as the latest books published by Helen Goga, where his passion for graphics can be expressed.

True to the creed of the new retiree, Alan has now found time to do those things he has always dreamed of, woodworking and gardening being just two of his many pastimes. And, more importantly, he enjoys each glorious day with his best friend, the love of his life, his wife, Helen Goga.

With three grown children and seven grandchildren, Alan's life has led him through various changes and challenges, all of which he has met with the same enthusiasm and interest that he presently expresses in all his interactions with family and friends. Alan's love for life is registered in his laughter and quick wit.