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Jewelry in the Time of COVID

Jewelry instructor Carly Kimbrough shares some ways to #LACStayCreative in our latest blog!

With the Lawrence Arts Center and other community studios currently closed, we cannot gather in person to share in the excitement of making jewelry. Even if we are lucky enough to have a studio at home, it is probably much smaller. In addition, with companies and suppliers cutting back on business hours and employees, it’s becoming difficult to acquire materials. These conditions create a paradox: although many of us have more time on our hands for creative pursuits, we struggle to find ways to continue learning and discovering. That’s why I thought it would be helpful to share some easy, low-cost ways to continue developing your jewelry skills. You don’t need any special equipment to try these out, and they are suitable for students at all levels of experience. You can have fun with these ideas on your own or use them as a way to spend quality time with children and partners.

1. Finding beauty in nature: Spring has sprung and enjoying the outdoors (while social distancing) is a joy. Just yesterday, I was on a walk in my neighborhood and I noticed the most magnificent American Sycamore trees. They were majestic in size and stark white against the blue sky. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the twisting and gnarled trunks. I spent the remainder of my walk thinking about how I could transform their beauty into jewelry.

Artists sometimes use natural objects to create jewelry. They create a type of mold around the objects, place them in a hot kiln, and “burn out” the object, leaving behind an impression that can then be cast using various metals. Although you probably don’t have access to the materials normally used in this process, it can be fun to go outside and collect items for future use. Try going outside and finding objects in nature that have interesting shapes, textures, or patterns.

You can also sketch some ideas for jewelry pieces using natural objects as inspiration. Perhaps you’re intrigued by the pattern on a leaf; see how you can capture that pattern in a broach or a pendant.

Going one step further, try making a piece out of natural materials. For example, some of my advanced level high school jewelry students have been using vines and twigs to weave bracelets. Many weaving tutorials are available on YouTube.

Adorn yourself with items from nature in non-traditional ways. Take photos of this process and share them with the community!

2. Found object jewelry: Many of my friends enjoy dropping old junk jewelry off at my doorstep and I love them for it. Recently, I dug out the bags of “junk.” It was fun going through the piles for inspiration. I also noticed that some of the pieces could be fun to repair/restore into something more modern and fresh. I got excited about turning this trash into treasure. You don’t need a pile of old jewelry to do this. In fact, many of us have everyday things lying around that would make excellent jewelry.

Many jewelers utilize natural and found objects in their work. An extensive list cane be found on the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) website Resources During COVID-19 Outbreak. I went through and curated some of my favorites:   List of jewelers.docx

If this approach appeals to you, how can you engage with it? Try designing and sketching  jewelry pieces inspired by some of these artists or the “junk” around the house. Create a piece of jewelry from found objects that you have collected. If you don’t have a lot of junk, there are ways to make beads out of magazines and paper. Lots of resources online. Here are a few I have put together:

bead templates.docx

Directions.docx

EXAMPLES.docx

3. Online resources: The great thing about jewelry-making is that there is always something new to discover or learn. At times it can be overwhelming, but I have been using this “extra” time to research and read about some skills and techniques that interest me. You can do the same. So many resources and videos are online, and although we can’t replicate many of the technical details, they provide a stimulating foundation of knowledge. Some awesome resources below:

SNAG: https://www.snagmetalsmith.org/

GANOKSIN: https://www.ganoksin.com/learning-center/

Craft in America (lots of episodes highlight jewelers): https://www.pbs.org/show/craft-in-america/

Rio Grande: https://www.riogrande.com/category/resource-center


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