Estelle Vernon creates a stunning collection of textured jewelry inspired by the natural world. Enjoy and visit her website to see more of her work.
My first exposure to jewelry making was during my senior year in high school. I took an art metals class as my final elective. I made rings, chains, and even cut a few cabochons. I always loved working with my hands and jewelry making satisfied that need.
Unfortunately, I was not able to continue studying jewelry where I attended college. It took me 20 years and a career in audiology before I returned to making jewelry. Three weeks after I left my position at the National Institutes of Health, I began studying metalsmithing and jewelry at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. Since then, I have also taken many other workshops and classes. In all of these studies, I have been fortunate to work with many nationally and internationally-known instructors.
Over the past 25+ years, I have honed my skills in jewelry fabrication, crafting one-of-a-kind and limited edition precious metal jewelry. Each piece that I create reflects my interest in subtle textures, elegant design and the natural beauty of sterling silver and gold. I love the tactile feeling of running my fingers over the textures I have created.
My current work involves using two surface techniques. My National Parks Collection was created using original photographs I have taken while traveling to Yellowstone National Park and Bryce Canyon. I am particularly drawn to dead trees and logs that have deep beetle galleries or tracks. I try to visualize what type of texture I will create from my photos.
I etch the design into a nickel plate in order to create my texture plate and then I roller print the design onto my metal. Each piece of jewelry in the National Parks Collection is accented with 24 k gold keum boo and then oxidized to fully develop the contrasts between the blackened silver and the 24 k gold.
My gold painted work involves melting 14k gold wire onto the surface of the sterling silver in a painterly fashion. The magic in this technique comes when I apply an iridescent patina to bring out the gold design. It’s so much fun to apply the gold without knowing what the final piece will look like. The pattern appears like magic, when the patina is applied and the gold design appears. I usually texture a large piece of metal and then pre-color it, so I can decide how I will use the patterned metal in my designs.
I am inspired by the world around me. I have always been able to see both patterns in my environment and subtle divergences from the ordinary. From the time I was 10 years old, I was really good at picking out four leaf clovers in a clover patch. I love picking up leaves, bark, seed pods and anything else in nature that catches my fancy. I use these objects as inspiration for my jewelry designs creating jewelry with an elegant simplicity.
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