I’ve never done things the normal way. I started dabbling with wire wrapping before I’d ever really seen it, because I wanted crystal jewelry back in the late 80’s and couldn’t afford to buy finished jewelry, but I could buy 50 cent Arkansas quartz points at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum gift shop, and craft supplies! I made myself a simple pair of crystal point earrings and then one of my professors in College asked if I could make a pair for her! That got the ball rolling! I managed to earn enough that year, making and selling crystal jewelry to pay for my airfare to see my then fiancee, who had gone back to Norway. While there, he got some jewelry making equipment out, including an old propane torch with a blow pipe, silver and basic tools, and showed me the very basics of cutting, shaping and soldering filigree jewelry! After that, I went back to the US and bought basic equipment, including a hardware store torch, and began teaching myself design and creation of filigree jewelry! That was my very first soldered jewelry technique!
Later, I got an old lapidary grinder and saw, and the first stone I ever cut was an opal! Yes, I know, I must have been masochistic! Filigree as my first silver technique, and opal as my first lapidary experience, but as I said, I never did things the normal way!
I got married, and moved to Norway, and ended up in an on the job training program at a jewelry workshop. I and 2-3 other young women were learning the various aspects of production casting. I was the only one there who had any prior experience with jewelry work, so I ended up doing some repair work as well, and one day, the owner showed me ONE time, how to actually cast using a big centrifugal caster…. at which point he said…now you can take over! I ended up having to unlearn a few bad habits he taught us, but I learned that I could cast filigree too!
In 2003, my Norwegian husband passed away after many years of diabetes and complications, and I began to make plans to move back to the USA, including getting a book deal for a book on how to make filigree through Kalmbach Publishing, who had just started their Art Jewelry book division. My book, Silver Threads: Making Wire Filigree Jewelry, was released in 2006, and did rather well, but was unfortunately discontinued a few years ago, when Kalmbach discontinued all their higher level skills books. I’m making plans to redo it, either as print on demand or an ebook with video.
Other than this, I’ve also taught myself Jewelry Photography, and have become quite adept at lapidary work, specializing in older, extinct materials and rarities.
I currently live in Asheville, North Carolina, with my two adult daughters and two cats, Rocket(Raccoon) and Luke(Skywalker). I’ve been doing mostly lapidary and photography the last few years, but am getting back into my jewelry work as well.