Behind the Curtain: The Jewelry Studio

by Caela Murphy | 1/21/14 4:32pm


Broken relics, pieces of scrap and discarded parts from previous rings, earrings and necklaces will be reassembled and sorted to make new jewelry, part of the first of the Hopkins Center’s Community Venture Initiatives, the Radical Jewelry Makeover.

Artists participating in the project will use recycled pieces rather than mine for new materials. Jeff Georgantes, director of the Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio, said that many people fail to consider how mining can harm both miners and the environment.

To gather materials for the project, the Hop has advertised collection locations around the Upper Valley. Collecting began in December and will run through February, and Georgantes has planned for jewelry-making studio hours in April.

In May, the studio will organize a display and sale of jewelry made from recycled materials. A portion of the proceeds will support Ethical Metalsmiths, an organization that advocates for sustainable mining practices.

The recycled jewelry program is one of several events that the jewelry studio has planned for the term. On Friday, Case Hathaway-Zepeda ’09, the jewelry studio’s artist-in-residence, will give a lecture, exhibit jewelry she has created at Dartmouth and present original video performance art.

In her talk, Hathaway-Zepeda will discuss her jewelry line, Flame and File, a collection composed of simple materials selected for the ways that they move on the wearer. The works are “activated by a body,” Hathaway-Zepeda said, made alive when worn.

Through limiting herself to only a handful of materials, Hathaway-Zepeda said she could focus the design of her jewelry.

“It’s amazing to me how putting some constraints on yourself opens up your creativity,” Hathaway-Zepeda said. “I’ve given myself these few elements, and my creativity is blossoming within that.”

This term, the studio will also host classes devoted to specific skills like casting rings or making bangle bracelets. Ardis Olson, a Geisel School of Medicine professor and regular studio attendee, said workshop classes can inspire ideas for new projects.

Olson said insights from studio staff, which includes professional artists as well as student teaching assistants, jump-starts projects.

“They give you help when you need it,” Olson said. “You come up with your own idea of what you want to make, and then talk it out and go from there.”

The studio also offers open workshop hours Monday through Saturday, which Georgantes said attract the “core” of the studio’s attendees. All Dartmouth students and faculty can use the studio and its resources during these hours regardless of experience level, he said.

Victoria Stein ’14, a teaching assistant in the studio, said those inexperienced with jewelry making should not be scared to visit. After working with staff, students will leave with an item that they like, she said.

“We figure out how to get the things that they have in their minds into reality, or we help them with the design for something,” she said.

The jewelry studio does not offer academic credit, which Georgantes sees as a strength of the program.

“Because there are no grades, people who might be afraid of failure don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “The ambiance here is basically that anybody who walks in the door becomes a member of this community.”