Turquoise Belt Buckle (1973)
I had a love affair with jewelry making before I fell in love with bees.
In the early 1970’s, I apprenticed with master silversmith, Nino Padilla in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For two years, I was a young grasshopper at the side of his workbench as Nino taught me the skills and techniques of jewelry fabrication.
A recent writing assignment for Michigan Alumnus magazine sparked my love of honeybees. The buzzing of the colony provided a low, rhythmic base line as I entered the apiary with a UM student group as they tended the hives. Through my research, I also learned that the species Apis mellifera is in jeopardy, threatened by climate change, habitat loss, and pesticides.
While sorting through boxes after my wife passed away in 2018, I ran across slides of my Santa Fe jewelry and smiled broadly. I decided to renew that passion and enrolled in a jewelry-making class. My first project was a necklace with a wasp soldered to a piece of wasp nest.
“This is beautiful,” said a friend, “but you should consider making bee jewelry”. Buzzzzz. I realized I could make jewelry using the remains of real bees and raise money to help their plight.
The seed for Worker Bee Jewelry was planted. Our creative objective is to capture the details of the bees through delicate wax work, and simulate them in flight, or place them in natural settings. We introduced our collections in late 2019, and the reaction has been enthusiastic. The results can be seen in our gallery.
Cleopatra Pendant 2020