Jeweler Helmcken has a bead on design
Amanda Helmcken, jeweler and owner of Silverwear Design, enjoys displaying her handmade works at Artique, because people can see her jewelry with their own eyes before they decide to buy it.
“I do sell my work on Etsy, and that’s challenging because it’s hard also to sell something with a picture,” Helmcken said. “That’s why I so appreciate the opportunity to be at Artique, because I’m more comfortable when people touch and feel what I make before they buy it.”
The public will get a chance to see Helmcken’s works and meet the artist from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, at Artique, 283 N. Main St. in Kamas.
The event is free and open to the public.
Helmcken plans to show her knitted bracelets, leather jewelry and works she makes from precious metal clay.
“Precious metal clay was developed by Mitsubishi in the 1990s, and they started making it to find a way to use up silver dust that was left over from manufacturing their products,” Helmcken said.
The clay is made with an organic binder that holds the dust together, she said.
“It comes in a little tiny piece of clay, and I took a course at the Kimball Art Center and learned how to use it,” Helmcken said. “I create things with it and then I fire each one individually with a blowtorch. And when you fire it, the binder burns away and you’re left with this fine .999 [grade] silver.”
Helmcken began working with precious metal clay because she couldn’t always find the beads she wanted to turn into jewelry.
“I thought if I worked with the precious metal clay, then I could make whatever I wanted,” she said.
The artist will also show off some leather jewelry as well as some of her knitted wire works.
“The leather jewelery started when a friend came to me with a leather necklace that needed to be repaired,” Helmcken said. “And I began doing wire jewelry because I wanted to find use to the massive stockpile of beads I had. So I started making simple beaded bracelets and things like that.
A few years ago, Helmcken heard about Viking knit, which is weaving wire on a dowel.
“That process makes a thick woven metal chain that can be turned into necklaces and bracelets,” she said.
Still, the overall theme of her work is beads.
“I always try to find different ways of using them,” she said.
Helmcken’s mother was her earliest creative influence.
“She taught me how to knit when I was in high school,” Helmcken said. “She was also a prolific needle pointer for many years and created beautiful pillows, chair seats and Christmas stockings for all of her grandchildren.”
Another influence was Helmcken’s great-aunt.
“We would go out and collect acorns and sticks,” Helmcken said. “She had a hot glue gun and we would make little scenes. And I think that’s what started me.”
Helmcken found her way into jewelry through knitting.
“I was in a jewelry store and they had a cool looking knit necklace, and I thought, ‘Well, I know how to knit, so I’ll try that,’” she said. “I did and it was really fun.”
The biggest challenge for Helmcken these days if finding the space to create her jewelry.
“My ‘studio’ is our dining room,” she said. “My family is very supportive and tolerant of the constant chaos, especially since our dining area is a central space in our great room.”
Helmcken began showing her works at Artique five years ago.
“I actually first met Katie when my daughter Anna (Tillman) was in the Kimball Art Center’s Young Artist Academy, six or seven years ago,” Helmcken said. “Katie did an artist opening for the YAA kids, and I started showing my works at Artique shortly after that. Before that, I sold my works at Paisley Pomegranate at Kimball Junction.”
The February First Friday Artist Opening will feature jeweler Amanda Helmcken from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, at Artique, 283 Main St. in Kamas. Helmcken, owner of Silverwear Design, is known for her beads, weaves and precious metal clay works. For information, visit https://www.facebook.com/artiqueartandgifts.
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