Published August 11th 2021

JEWELRY SPOTLIGHT – Part One – Using Non-Traditional Materials

In the world of contemporary handmade jewelry, there are countless mediums used by makers. In this two-part series, we’ll explore both traditional materials like silver and gold, and more non-traditional materials like paper and felt by the jewelry makers below. Read on and enjoy exploring the many facets and colors of these creative artists.

Bracelet by Holly Anne Mitchell

(Above: Bracelet by Holly Anne Mitchell)

Holly Anne Mitchell - paper
Holly Anne Mitchell has had an endless fascination with newspaper that began decades ago with an assignment in a metalsmithing class to create a piece of jewelry out of non-traditional materials. Pushing the boundaries of text, color, and content, she chose newspaper. From The New York Times to the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, Holly Anne juxtaposes them, creating rich textural patterns. She also uses comic strips in part because of how the characters' expressive faces contain bold vibrant colors. Her turning point was when she discovered transforming newspaper into beads. She hand-stitches the beads together, creating her jewelry collection consisting of bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, pins/brooches and necklaces. Additional parts of the newspaper include crossword puzzles and stock listings, as well as expired coupons, as the textural patterns remind her of African Kente cloth. An added asset to her line of jewelry is the fact that her work is inherently eco-friendly since each piece consists of recycled newspaper.

Necklace by Danielle Gori-Montanelli

(Above: Necklace by Danielle Gori-Montanelli)

Danielle Gori-Montanelli – felt

Danielle’s whimsical art-to-wear wonders are a highlight to behold. A painter early on, she found herself making a living as a jeweler by accident. Starting out using traditional materials, time spent living in Italy for 10 years introduced her to European designer felt. She began exploring its many aspects and potential, purchasing and lugging giant bolts on the train back to her studio. Danielle’s process includes building up layers of flat sheets of wool felt that is cut by hand or with custom made dies and then carved with scissors, constructing three dimensional pieces.

Michele Friedman - wool felt

Michele’s jewelry is the result of her desire to incorporate color from an alternative source into her work without the technique of setting stones. Through trial and error with many different materials, she discovered that felt was her ideal medium as it is durable, pliable, colorful and textural. Inspired by graphic design, product design, furniture design, and architecture, among her influences are Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Vasily Kandinksy. With a deep passion for modern art and design, Michele began her journey attending college at Parsons School of Design In New York City.

Jewelry by Michele Friedman, Martha Collins, and Francesca Vitalli

(Above: Jewelry by Michele Friedman, Martha Collins, and Francesca Vitalli)

Martha Collins – wood

Martha’s unique jewelry is created from wood that she “weaves” into fabric like patterns, reminiscent of beadwork or needlepoint. Just featured on Ornament Magazine’s Instagram account, her wearable three-dimensional works of art are crafted from exotic hardwoods with natural color and grain, and brightly colored veneers that she hand-dyes in her studio. Sourcing sustainable woods from around the world, a single bracelet can have up to 1200 individual pieces of wood in it. There is a magic in the making, or so it seems. A true showstopper, each work is carefully constructed, highlighting the natural beauty of the wood meshed with the incredible patterns of the design, making each piece one of a kind. 

Francesca Vitalli – paper

Beginning her career as a chemist, Francesca shifted to designing contemporary jewelry and began to see how art and chemistry intersect. Based on ancient times, when alchemists tried to convert common matter into gold, Francesca strives to transform paper into precious objects, each one telling a story. As a response to the inability to travel during Covid, Francesca took that time to take a detour from her frequent summer trips to Italy where she is from. Instead, she took a virtual tour of Italy with a map, and one of her pieces is a 6-foot long necklace as a reminder of social distancing.

Jewelry by Wiwat Kamolpornwijit

(Above: Jewelry by Wiwat Kamolpornwijit)

Wiwat Kamolpornwijit - polymer clay

Wiwat creates polymer jewelry inspired by unique structures and natural objects. Organic components are set within a contemporary frame and each piece is hand-formed. Using several techniques including caning, engraving, weaving, and layering, the color and size may be slightly different from one piece to the other, signifying a truly handmade result.


Click HERE to see all the jewelers for this year’s Craft Show.