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5 questions with design challenge winner Joanne Simmons

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Joanne Simmons is the winner of Facet's Design Challenge for June 2016 in the Metal, Wire, Clays & Resin category, for her piece DRAPED RING. Originally from the United Kingdom, Joanne came to the States in 2005 and found her passion for silversmithing and jewelry designing soon thereafter. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband and their cat, Girl. Her business name is Silver Sculptor, which originates from the metal she prefers to use, and the fact that she started out sculpting using Precious Metal Clay.

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The category for the challenge was FOLDS. To lay one part over another; to create a line or a crease; to clasp together, as in the folding of hands. To incorporate into a mixture. To make a covering, a wrap or a soft, gentle draping. To concede, by throwing in your cards. We couldn't wait to see how jewelry makers interpreted this theme in their own way, and we were not disappointed. The "Folds" on Joanne's piece are just lovely, capturing the illusion of softness, like fabric, with the strength and inner glow of fine silver.

HOW DID YOU LEARN JEWELRY-MAKING?

I first found out about Precious Metal Clay from browsing through Etsy, I noticed that a lot of the jewelry I liked was made from it, so I did some research and joined a class in New York City. I then took a class at the School of Visual Arts which taught me how to solder and that really helped to propel my work and opened up lots of different avenues for me to experiment with. Since then, if I see something I like the look of, I’ll research how to make it through YouTube, magazines and books.

WHAT STYLE OF JEWELRY DO YOU MAKE?

My bestsellers on Etsy are cufflinks, be that handprint jewelry cufflinks, or personalized cufflinks for weddings or special occasions. I was recently asked to create a pair of cufflinks for a 25th wedding anniversary and it’s times like that, when I can make an impact in people’s lives, that makes me want to create. I enjoy knowing that my jewelry is being given to people to commemorate special times.

I am also asked to create handprint jewelry for people that have lost their children and all they have is handprint to remember their children by. This is so special to me, that someone has entrusted their memories with me and that I can create something that will be with them forever as a constant reminder. My finished products connect me with my clients, crafting bespoke one-of-a-kind jewelry tied to the bonds between giver and recipient. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.

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WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU USE IN YOUR WORK?

For my line of handprint jewelry, I mostly use Precious Metal Clay. Each piece is made using the hand or footprint of the customer's children, so each piece is unique and can be personalized.

I also use Sterling Silver for all other pieces that I make. Silver is definitely the metal that I’m drawn to the most, much more than brass, copper, gold etc. I always have been, since a young child. That’s not to say that I won’t use other metals, for example I recently made our wedding bands from white gold (of course!).

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ARE YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING INTERESTING RIGHT NOW?  

I’m currently teaching myself how to use Rhino to create 3D pieces. I’ve started out with a cufflink that says LOVE in Braille. Both my Grandfathers were blind and so creating a Braille Collection might be the next thing I work on - that and continuing to learn how to use Rhino.

I’ve always had a talent for self-learning software and this is getting me really excited about the possibilities. No longer am I restrained by my silversmithing abilities or having to learn how to make something, I am now restrained by my technical abilities behind the computer. I truly see this is as the way forward for jewelry design, though I would never want to give up working with my hands, which is how my love for this industry started in the first place.

WHERE CAN PEOPLE LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR WORK?

Most of my work can be found on Etsy: www.thesilversculptor.com/etsy. I also have a website that is exclusively dedicated to the handprint jewelry that I make from PMC: www.handprintjewelry.com. I can be found most days on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook  (@silversculptor) and I am usually at craft fairs in Northern New Jersey, the next one is the All About Downtown Street Fair in Jersey City in September. 

FIND MORE: metal clay , rings

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