Jewelry Designer Profile
I started my career as a jewelry designer in beadwork and polymer clay. Initially, I taught myself, with the help of a few books and instruction manuals. Later I decided to try a class in metalsmithing at an adult school. This led to extension courses in jewelry at Loyola Marymount University, a few private lessons, and several workshops sponsored by the Metal Arts Society of Southern California.
I became a jewelry designer after several earlier incarnations: growing up in Michigan, then many years as a student, followed by a two-year stint selling paint and wallpaper, and after that 18 years in the music business promoting rock ‘n’ roll records. (And if you think I just made a very, very long story short, you’re right!) It was after burning out on the latter that I returned to an earlier love – making beautiful things with my hands. Before long, avocation became vocation, and here I am.
How I Work:
All of my jewelry is designed by me and hand-fabricated by me from milled raw materials such as gold sheet, wire, tubing and solder. For some of my pieces, I also fabricate the findings (necklace clasps, for instance); in many cases, however, I use purchased findings (e.g., pin backs and earring posts). The chains and cables for my pendants are manufactured; necklaces of beads and pearls, I string myself.
Most of the gemstones you see in my work were purchased from lapidary artisans who specialize in the cutting and polishing of stones. It is not unusual, however, for me to trim stones I’ve bought to suit a particular design and, occasionally, I cut a stone from scratch.
I work alone in a small studio with a TV, telephone and two cats for company.
I seldom need to look beyond the richness of gold – my favorite metal – and an infinite variety of stunning gemstones to find inspiration. As a jewelry designer, I am always searching for creative ways to frame, embellish, complement and/or contrast with a stone or interesting combination of stones. That search has led me to explore diverse metal-working techniques in an effort to expand my design vocabulary – and so, inspiration also emerges from the technique itself. That’s the case in my recent experimentation with broom-casting.
This is an old jewelry designer technique in which molten metal is poured over the soaking wet, upturned bristles of a straw broom. The results vary greatly, but generally echo the dripping, columnar shapes of stalactites. While some of these one-of-a-kind castings are usable in their "raw" state, I modify, refine and combine most of them until they suit the concept of each jewelry piece. I call the series that evolved from this process “Organic Geometry” because of the geometric patterns I tend to fashion from the organic broom-cast elements and colorful stones.
It makes the world go round for me! My breath can be taken away by the fresh, minty green of the latest fashion trend or the pinkish, peachy skin of an apricot. No surprise then that I am drawn to tourmaline and opal and sapphire, not to speak of agate, jasper, turquoise and pyrite. My father used to say, “Where food is concerned, I have no enemies.” I feel the same way about colored gemstones of all kinds (okay, okay, I feel the same way about food, too!).
As a jewelry designer, my biggest reward comes from the pleasure people derive from seeing, owning and wearing my jewelry. I do confess, however, to great pride in the awards I have won. Just this year (2006), I took first place in the earring division of Lapidary Journal's Jewelry Arts Awards (check also the first image on The Archives page). And during a wonderful trip to Australia in 2003, I entered the Yowah Designer Jewellery Competition. Not only did I win First Place in the juried, $1000-5000 division, but I was co-winner – with myself! – for the People’s Choice award. You can see the winning pieces on The Archives page of this site; they’re the second and third images.
I am also duly proud of having been awarded a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) every year since 2002. Computers – in particular, Macs – have become my hobby. I answer questions about Word for the Mac on Microsoft’s newsgroups whenever I can snatch a moment from the studio. It was for this volunteer work that I was given the MVP award. And it is due to my interest in computers that I learned the skills to create this website, with the invaluable help of friends and other MVPs. So, thanks, especially, to Judy Gray, John McGhie, Barry Blau, Cheryl Wise and Corentin Cras Ménier.
Ironic, isn’t it, that I seem to have no interest in CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacture)?!
“I am not young enough to know everything.” (Borrowed from Scottish playwright Sir James Barrie.)