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Julie Beucherie: Featured Jewelspan Jeweler

Inspired by nature, Julie Beucherie sculpts exquisite jewelry out of precious metal clay

Julie Beucherie Abstract in Pink
Abstract in Pink, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Botswana Agate, Moonstones, Pink and Green Sapphires


Seattle-based jewelry artist Julie Beucherie shares her love of precious metal clay, and the inspiration behind her playful works of wearable art.
What inspired you to become a jewelry artist?
I've always been "crafty" and enjoy working with my hands. I began teaching myself to carve stone when I moved up to Seattle from California. Stone sculpting is one of my favorite art forms and I never grow tired of looking at others' creations, but it is very hard, body intensive, dusty work. My shift to jewelry making was somewhat serendipitous. I learned about Precious Metal Clay (PMC) from jewelery artist Kathy van Kleek during a little trip to Port Townsend. I purchased some books about working with PMC that day, and shortly thereafter a kiln, and have never looked back. I could make a small sculpture and complete it in much less time than the 12 to 18 months it took to complete a stone sculpture. Plus I could wear it!
What initially drew you to jewelry making and previously, stone sculpture?
I love rocks. They tell the most amazing stories and have lived such long lives. They were here long before humans ever graced this planet and they'll be here long after we're all gone. I love the permanence of stone and of jewelry. I suppose that's why I've enjoyed working in both mediums. I've never had children and that was a choice, so I think my jewelry is my way of creating something lasting that will be here long after I'm gone. Looking at jewelry that was made thousands of years ago makes me wonder who made the particular piece; it enables me to feel connected to something larger than myself.

Old Crones
Old Crones, Fine Silver, 22 Carat Gold,Sterling Silver, Black Sardonyx Cabochon, Moonstone, Black Obsidian, Fresh Water Pearls



What do you most enjoy about the process of creating PMC jewelry?

I had taken some traditional metalsmithing classes, but was not thrilled by the torch, the chemicals or the large array of tools required to craft jewelry. PMC really lends itself to organic creations, and that works well for me. You can do pretty much anything with it that you can imagine. Sometimes I'll find a wonderful twig and just paint it with numerous layers of PMC slip (watered down clay) and use that as part of a piece. You can roll out PMC and embed it into any organic material. You can't do that with metal. What I really love about PMC is that you can carve it. And, if you don't like your design, you add more water, roll it back into a ball and start all over.

Each of your pieces is incredibly unique. What has inspired your work?

Nature, nature, nature! Other inspirations include buildings, art deco, pottery, stone sculpture, iron work, furniture, cracks in sidewalks. I find that random things get the juices flowing. Chandeliers from the Art Deco and Arts and Crafts Movement lend themselves beautifully for earrings and pendants, for example.

 Elvira's Ghost
Elvira's Ghost, Fine Silver, Hand Knit Fine Silver Chain, Sterling Silver, 22 Carat Gold, Opal

 Elvira's Ghost is one of your most whimsical pieces. Is there a story behind it?

I have a lot of art books that are a never ending source of ideas, such as a wonderful book titled Art Nouveau 1890–1914 edited by Paul Greenhalgh. In this book is a black and white photograph of the facade of Hof-Atelier Elvira (Elvira Studio) a photography studio opened by two women, in Munich, Germany. There is this gorgeous fantastical sea creature created by August Endell, that covers the external wall of the studio that as I recall, was destroyed during WWII. I thought this creature needed to be resurrected and would make a beautiful pendant.

The amount of detail you put into pieces like Back to the Garden is incredible. How much time goes into making such an intricate piece?

That piece took around two months to complete. Sometimes I need time for a piece to evolve as I'm working on it. I return to it day after day to make adjustments, layer as needed, and then leave it alone for a few days. I think my days of stone sculpting eradicated all of the instant gratification impulses I had (dark chocolate actually fulfills that need). I often think of the pieces I create as little pieces of architecture, because each element needs to be fashioned independently and then joined with the other pieces. Making the brickwork is one process, and making the bird is another, while combining all the parts is another step in the process. Back to the Garden has moving parts that were cold connected, which is a traditional metal smithing technique.

Back to the Garden
Back to the Garden, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Agua Nueva Agate Cabochon, Peridot


Do you have a favorite piece?

Oh my gosh, that is difficult. I love all of my babies, particularly my pendants! I notice that the piece I wear most frequently is Ancestor II. I fell in love with the Montana Agate and wanted to build something wonderful around it for myself. That agate has gorgeous markings that feel archaic to me, and I wanted to design something that had a tribal feel to it. The large twig that serves as part of the bail helps lend an ancient look to the piece.

Medievil Rapture
Medieval Rapture

What are you currently working on?

Well, I've got a few things in progress with twigs and pods, but my plan for future work is connected to a small book I bought several months ago at my local West Seattle Nursery: Charles Harper's Birds and Words. I intend to use his work as my muse, with a bird series honoring his minimal creatures. I love birds and have made a few pieces featuring them. My most recent was a goose brooch (not inspired by Mr. Harper) titled Medieval Rapture. I used sterling silver and copper in that piece, and I would like to design more birds with these metals.

Julie Beucherie:
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