About the Artist, Susan Bucknam

Fun with Color, Texture, and Tools

I have always loved rocks and minerals, especially the colorful and sparkly ones. My family frequently went rock hunting in the Colorado mountains; digging in the dirt or picking at geologic formations to find the perfect examples of ‘pretty stones’. My Dad is a mineralogist/crystallographer, among other things, and I grew up with mineral specimens all over the house and in the garden. I retain my early love of the colors and textures found in the gems formed in the earth. They are my inspiration.

As I was deciding what I would do to keep busy after I retired from the high tech business world I considered three areas of creative endeavor: pottery, glasswork, and making jewelry.There are recurring themes in those choices; all are hands-on activities, they all have a color component, require the use of fire, and change the state of or combine the original materials.

A friend suggested I take a silversmithing class at a local community college just to see if I’d like it. On the first night I made a turquoise ring that actually looked great and I was hooked. I began acquiring colorful stones in unusual shapes, many of which had great patterns or texture. I also got to acquire tools … Did I mention that I love tools? With the help of friends and a couple of classes I began learning the technical stuff and setting up a workshop. I haven’t stopped learning and I still have room for a few more tools.

People often ask me how I come up with my designs. When I purchase a stone I already have an idea of how it will be featured in a piece of jewelry. Other times the stone just ‘talks’ to me. On occasion, however, the shop elves will mess things up on my workbench and put stones together in a way I wouldn’t have considered. Gotta love the shop elves!

I enjoy combining the colors and textures of stones with various finishes on the metal surfaces. Lately I have been drawn to stones that show some rough surface or crystal structure; for example, natural black garnet crystals, natural surface lapis lazuli, or druzy agates. These stones are both tactile and visually exciting. Sometimes the metal surrounding the stone gets textured, fused, hammered or otherwise transformed, other times it is merely brought to a high polish. It’s the combination of opposites/compliments that delights me and informs my jewelry making.