Lyn Punkari

Lyn Punkari

Merman Jewel
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2012 featuring Metal
Bronze Medal Winner (Tie)
Special Recognition
Category: Necklace: Metal Clay

Lyn Punkari

25 Gem Treasure Trove
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2016 featuring Metal
Gold Medal Prize Winner
Category: Necklace: Fashion Accessories

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Louisville, Kentucky

Describe your artistic style.
Historically influenced.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Studying history, evolution of design in jewelry. How the past influences jewelry design today.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Gold, silver, PMC®, gems.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Merman Jewel

What inspired this design?
A study of Renaissance baroque pearl jewels. And the idea of making something of historical design out of a modern medium like metal clay.

How did it come together?
Normally, I would carve this from wax and cast it. In this case the challenge was to make it in metal clay. I started by making a rough form in cork clay to act as framework for the piece. Gems were pressed into place while the cork clay was moist, then allowed to dry leaving impressions for placement. A sheet of metal clay was rolled out and pressed over the cork clay form. Areas with gem impressions were cut out in the center, leaving a seat for the gems. The area for the baroque pearl was pushed out by approximately 2-3mm to accommodate clay shrinkage. Other heatproof gems were set into place. This rough-formed merman was allowed to dry then details were added by carving or adding clay. The entire piece was fired, tumbled in steel shot, then 24K gold electroplated accents added. The baroque pearl and gems were burnished into place. The sun face was carved and rough polished on a 10mm garnet cabochon, and set into a 10mm bezel that was fired into the sun medallion in the merman's hand. Some resin enamel accents were added for additional color, and to imitate a white en ronde bosse enamel on the merman's body. Working with the metal clay, I feel I was able to obtain a great control over detail and refining the piece. I had a plan with the rough cork clay form, but with anything sculptural it does define itself once you start to work on it.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I started beading when I was a kid. Took a few metals courses as a teenager, and a close friend gave me a torch and jeweler's saw to start. I dabbled in making jewelry, and sold my work at a few art shows to make ends meet while in college. After college, I continued selling at juried art shows as a supplemental income. I also became fascinated with jewelry history, and found a niche market for well-researched historical designs. I started a website for this jewelry work, to supplement my income while I was working for a historical arms museum as my day job. Eventually the jewelry gained in popularity, became my career, and I now sell to museums, collectors, re-enactors, and history enthusiasts around the world. I continue to create traditional and fine art jewelry as well, and hope to start another website for my more modern works in the near future.

Who introduced you to beading?
My grandfather was a rock hound and antique bead collector. He taught me a great appreciation for all things related to art, jewelry, and history when I was a kid. He also taught me how to string and knot beads. So I'd say that's where I got my start.

Do you have an artistic background?
My mother was a fine artist, art history teacher, and art collector. She studied under Paul Chidlaw at Edgecliff University, and I was allowed to sit in on those classes when I was a kid. My father was a chef, jazz aficionado, and art pottery collector. I was always being exposed to learning about art and encouraged to think creatively.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I think in the back of a Lapidary Journal magazine about 15 years, or so, ago.

The Jewelry Making Contests have been a truly great opportunity to share my work! So many people have discovered my jewelry by seeing it in Fire Mountain. I really appreciate how supportive of jewelry artists they are! That support contributes so much towards a successful career as a jewelry artist. Thank you, Lyn Punkari.

What other hobbies do you have?
Collecting art and antiques, hiking, biking, urban archeology, gardening, painting.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Being able to roll the things I love to do into a career is probably the biggest reward. A few years ago, I had a 12 year old in my studio for a "career day," where she had to visit a number of different careers and write a report for school. Afterwards, she sent a nice thank you letter, saying "your job was my favorite because you make things that make people happy." That statement really put it in perspective for me.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have a website for my historical jewelry line I occasionally have a booth at shows. I also wholesale my work, and enter competitions. I'm currently working on second website for my more traditional and modern jewelry work.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Make what you love. Work hard, and always keep learning.

View all of Lyn's designs in the Gallery of Designs.