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Maker Stories

Andrea Panico: 3D Printing and Reinventing the I.D. Necklace

June 24, 2016

Puppy wheelchairs, prosthetics, and pizza in space. What do these things have in common? They’ve all been 3D printed. Once the stuff of science fiction (think the replicators of Star Trek’s Enterprise), 3D printing is rapidly becoming familiar technology for artists, inventors, and industrial designers. Although 3D printing is associated with creating a wide variety of things, it’s not necessarily associated with making beautiful things. One artist who’s working on changing that is Andrea Panico, maker of our Common Edge 3D Printed Initial Necklace.

Panico Common Edge 2
“I think when 3D printing technology started gaining momentum, we all looked at it like ‘What can I do with this that I couldn’t do via traditional methods?’,” says Andrea, reflecting on makers’ embrace of the cutting edge potential. But instead of embarking on flights of 3D-printed fancy, her approach was relatively pragmatic: “I’ve always been more interested in how I could use 3D printing to help me do what I was already doing—as opposed to creating something aesthetically different, just because I could. I’m a lover of tools, whether they’re manual or technological in nature, and started looking at 3D printing as just another tool in my kit.”

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Andrea’s drawings for the Common Edge necklace

The Common Edge necklace design is an extension of Andrea’s architectural approach to jewelry design. “I’m always looking at systems and modularity and always thinking about how to minimize production time and maximize beauty and uniqueness,” she says. Part of Andrea’s challenge as a jewelry designer was to reconcile the digital, automatic nature of 3D printing with the cachet of custom, handmade jewelry. Prototyping potential is part of the key to striking such a balance.

“The work I do is precise by nature and I spend quite a bit of time planning and designing so that I can maintain that precision in production,” she explains. “It’s similar to me using a mold to cast a piece for production. I need that tool to help me ensure the design is accurate and true to my intent, time after time.”

Further making the connection between traditional casting techniques and 3D printing, she adds, “I still spend quite a bit of time finishing the piece by hand. With 3D printing, the time and effort are spent up front, doing the work to plan and execute in the 3D software. So while I’m not hand finishing the design per se, it still involves quite a bit of decision-making and design intent.”

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Digital schematics for the Common Edge necklace

Technology and tools aside, concepts of universality inspire her design. “I wanted to underscore the theme that we all share this common human denominator; that we’re all different in so many ways, but there’s a foundation of basic needs that brings people together,” she asserts. “I started looking at the alphabet and realized that almost all the letters could be created by building simple gestures on top of either a common straight line or a common curved line. This piece reminds us we are unique, but also that we are not alone.” For Andrea, the geometric framework of the alphabet provided a ready metaphor for the ties of human experience.

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Digital rendering of the Common Edge necklace

Andrea’s inspiration also stems from existing traditions of I.D. jewelry—specifically, a bit of bling from her own collection: “I have an I.D. necklace I got in the ‘80s that had this delicate and elaborate ‘Andrea’ with a tiny diamond in it,” she reflects. “Those are back in style as an ironic statement now, but I wanted to make a piece for the woman who likes pieces that are a little stronger and less precious. This is why the necklace includes the two pieces—the common edge piece and a more gestural overlay that together creates her initial.”

A creative continuation of the I.D. jewelry tradition, the Common Edge necklace can be worn every day to work, at home (it’s strong enough to withstand curious kids’ hands), or out and about. Plus, its 3D printed forms will help you feel connected to a fascinating piece of the future. blogcta-letternecklace

Maker Stories

A Throne For Your Trinkets: Tracy Shea’s Pedestal Jewelry Holder

April 22, 2016

Tracy Shea | Pedestal Jewelry Stand | UncommonGoods

Tracy Shea remembers her first time. As a sophomore at Ohio’s Mentor High School she took a ceramics course and was instantly hooked. “From the minute I touched clay, it’s always been something I wanted to do,” she recalls.

She scored a partial scholarship to the Cleveland Institute of the Arts, but ended up accepting a full-ride to a different college. “My parents refused to pay for an art education,” she explains. “They were like, ‘You’ll never make it as an artist.’”

Fast forward three decades and the Garrettsville, Ohio mom of two spends her days making her popular Pedestal Jewelry Holder. The lace-imprinted ceramic stand — fitted with 50 holes to hang earrings — was born from a desire to display heirloom pieces passed down to her from her aunt. Eyeing her collection “drove me to think, people have stuff that they don’t necessarily want to throw in a drawer,” she says. “People collect stuff for a reason — there are emotional ties. So this is a special place to put things that are really special.” She puts her process — and her life as an artist — on display.

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Maker Stories

Precious Gem Chakra Balancing Necklace:
Rocking the Chakras With Erwin List Sanchez and Deborah Stotzky

March 30, 2016

Erwin List Sanchez and Deborah Stotzky

Jewelry artists and devoted yogis Erwin List Sanchez and Deborah Stotzky, makers of our new Precious Gem Chakra Balancing Necklace, believe in beautiful stones – and not just because they’re pretty. They keep carefully-chosen pieces of quartz crystals around their studio because of the power they hold.

In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, the term “chakra” (Sanskrit for wheel) refers to human energy centers. There are seven main chakras in the human body. It was probably inevitable that Erwin and Deborah would create a necklace that beautifully visualizes these powerful, invisible forces.


Precious Gem Chakra Balancing Necklace | UncommonGoods

Precious Gem Chakra Balancing Necklace | UncommonGoods
Gems, from top to bottom: Amethyst, Indigo Sapphire, Topaz, Emerald, Citrine, Orange Sapphire, Ruby. (Note: Image is highly magnified. See below for actual size image of pendant on model.)

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5 Ways to Attract Retail Buyers to Your Brand

March 16, 2016

attract retail buyers

*Editor’s note: For many artists, the idea of approaching retail buyers can seem intimidating. We’ve tapped Emilie Shapiro, jewelry designer, instructor and author of the new book, How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line, to share some ideas that budding entrepreneurs can use to attract retail buyers to their brand. 


1. Design a Marketable Collection

Whether you are starting from scratch or have created hundreds of pieces, making a collection is very different from designing just one piece. Designing a collection is about translating one design into many different forms. For example, when creating a jewelry collection, you should be able to translate a design for a ring into a necklace, earrings and a bracelet. Every customer will gravitate toward a certain type of piece. Some customers love rings and that is all they buy while other customers want pieces that go together. Retail buyers for a wholesale account will typically want to present the full collection so there is something for everyone.

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Maker Stories

Beach Glass Beauties: Jeanne Kollecker’s Marvelous Marble Pendants

February 11, 2016

It was a magazine article that drew Jeanne Kollecker to the arts. “About five years ago, I read an article on beach glass in Lake Erie Living,” she explains. Intrigued, the Chardon, Ohio resident decided to search for some herself on the shores of Lake Erie near her house. “I started hunting and it became an addiction. I knew right away I wanted to turn it into jewelry. You can find a piece and just say, ‘Wow, this would make a great pendant, or an earring,’” she says. She took classes on silversmithing at the local community college, and kept looking for beach glass (so named when it comes from fresh water; sea glass comes from salt water). “Then,” she says, “I found my first marble.”

The beach marble, to the uninitiated, is more or less the holy grail of lakeside treasures — made all the more desirable by the many legends of the object’s origins (more on that below). “They’re such a rare find that when you find one, you do a happy dance,” says Jeanne, who manages a veterinary office by day. “The mystery of them is so much fun.”

As a proud member of The North American Sea Glass Association, she never alters the state of the marbles she finds. “I just wash them with warm soap and water.” The various colors, sizes and finishes of the baubles make each of her pieces unique. “Everything is one-of-a-kind” she says. “No one else in the world is wearing the same piece.”

She takes us through her process — and behind the mystery of the marbles.

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