Metalsmith Vickie Hallmark presents her gorgeous collection of handmade jewelry. See more from this talented artist by visiting her website.
Listening to the stories about the origins of my family surname piqued my interest in metalsmithing and jewelry in particular (a hallmark is a quality mark for silver and gold). I always worked at something artistic and frequently collected handmade jewelry, often wishing to try it for myself.
However, my university studies followed a more scientific route, and I eventually earned my doctorate and began a research career studying, among other things, gold and silver surfaces. After burning out in the intensely competitive research laboratory, I retired from science and reclaimed my artistic interests, where I eventually sought the jewelry training of which I had only dreamed before.
Ironically, I still work with silver and gold. True to my scientific background, I’m drawn to high-tech versions of those materials, such as Argentium silver and metal clay. Argentium is a higher-purity, brighter silver that is very slow to tarnish. Metal clay is made of tiny metal particles suspended in an organic binder to make a material that works like clay, but is then converted by high temperature into pure silver or gold.
My jewelry is inspired by my central Texas garden, where I cultivate a variety of native plants that tolerate our withering summers and also tend a stock tank pond filled with fish and water lilies. I spend time out there everyday, weeding and watering, and those tranquil vistas provide the images that appear in my work.
Each piece of jewelry begins as either a sketch or a small sculpture. Sketches get converted into raised textures to imprint simpler jewelry items. More complex pieces bear tiny sculpted birds, flowers and leaves, painstakingly shaped by hand with only simple tools. These components are then carefully arranged into vignettes that grace my handmade earrings, pendants, brooches and bracelets.
I’m a bit obsessive about the work (my husband calls me Picky Vickie!), and I enjoy building layers of details and adding hidden attractions as a special delight for the owner. A particular favorite is a quotation mounted on the back of a piece. I love to see the look on a customer’s face when they inevitably flip the piece over and see that the back is just as beautiful as the front.
I sell my jewelry through a range of retail galleries and shops across the country, as well as online in my own shop. My special delight is custom work, where I combine my artistic and technical expertise with the vision of the client to create a one-of-a-kind piece to commemorate a special event.