I “met” Nora, of Ahki Design Jewelry, on Instagram. She is a metalsmith. It’s a more esoteric pursuit among jewelry artisans. Totally fascinating. I became a regular follower. Today, I am honored to showcase Nora and her work.
1. Tell us about your art.
I work in sheet metal–bronze, brass, copper and sterling silver–plus, I source cabachons from the US and Indonesia to create original, one-of-a-kind jewelry. Right now I’ve limited myself to making rings and pendants as those forms are easier for me to envision when I’m designing.
2. How long have you been making jewelry?
I started taking classes for metalsmithing from April-August 2018.
3. How did you get started?
When I was 9, my grandmother took me to London to see the Crown Jewels…. I blame her for setting me down the road of collecting vintage jewelry. In 2017 I decided that it was ridiculous to hold onto everything and started to take it all apart to use as components. This resulted in assemblage style necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Once I felt that I had taken that as far as I could, I began taking metalsmithing classes.
4. Is it your main gig?
Yes. I left the corporate design world, where I had a very long career, behind. It got extremely tiring explaining design decisions to people who didn’t understand design. I particularly enjoyed when people would criticize my font choices but couldn’t tell me why.
5. Do others participate in the jewelry making process?
It’s just me and my big girl Hawker who is an American Bulldog/St. Bernard mix.
6. What inspires you?
Medieval art especially weaponry. It’s the perfect mix of religious iconic imagery and amazing metal forging and design. Fortunately the Art Institute here in Chicago has several galleries that are devoted to medieval art and weapons from the 1100s to the 1500s. Whenever I’m feeling stale I just go over there and me and the tourists just soak it in.
7. What do you love most in regard to your art?
It’s the perfect blend of process and freedom. I now know that when a piece starts to go sideways, it can result in something fantastic. Then I have to figure out how to get that “accident” to happen again! Every time I successfully complete a piece it’s the best feeling in the world and if it’s actually how I designed it, I’m always amazed.
8. What is your biggest challenge?
It’s definitely becoming much more proficient with what I learned from taking classes and what I’ve read in metalsmithing books. I’ve just scratched the surface in terms of what’s possible and it’s only by continually doing, making mistakes, understanding what I can and can’t get metal to do that I can even begin to realize my designs. I refer to myself as a fledgling because I encounter my lack of knowledge and skill every single day. There are a lot of things I design on paper and then have no idea how to translate to metalsmithing. Right now I want to teach myself how to do hollow form and in theory I think I understand the process. Whether I can actually do it is the challenge.
9. Do you have a favorite quote?
“Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” –Yoda
10. Do you have a website (or social media sites) where people can connect with you?
Instagram – which I adore, and encourage people to engage with me there. Eventually you will see everything I create…, even if it’s a failure. I have an Etsy shop. And I have a gallery space that I use for applying to shows and markets.
I urge you to take a look at Nora’s Etsy shop and her portfolio pages. Her style is bold and beautiful. And if you are looking for a truly unique jewelry piece, consider Nora’s work.