Copper in the Arts

February 2010

Kindred Spirit Designs: Creating Rainbows on Copper

By Melania Votaw

Copper Patina Horse Weather Vane Horse pin

Photograph courtesy of Dona L. Jones

Dona L. Jones, owner of Kindred Spirit Designs developed an interest in jewelry-making at a young age.

"I remember when I was in junior high school, I made these little wire rings," she says. As a child entrepreneur, she sold her creations to other kids. Today, Jones makes her living as a designer of copper pins, earrings, and ornaments and is a member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.

She creates a line of more than 100 designs depicting animal, celestial, oceanic, and natural forms, as well as peace signs. "I find that I have a wide variety of images, and there seem to be customers for almost everything," she says.

While she studied metalsmithing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, she developed her own torching techniques in order to create varied colors on the surface of the copper.

"When my business was only a few years old," she says, "I was working with mixed metals mostly - silver and brass, nickel silver and copper - and I was trying to get an effect on the metal. And I kept getting all this color." At first, she saw the color as a mistake but eventually decided to go with it.

Copper Piece by Dona Jones Mermaid, Handmade Torched Copper

Photograph courtesy of Dona L. Jones

When she began attending craft shows, she discovered that people asked for the colorful torched pieces, so as a result of this "mistake," she found her niche as a jewelry artist. Besides the torching process, many of Jones' pieces are etched to create texture.

Once she has settled on a particular design, she sends a prototype to Lancaster Metals in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they cut and etch the pieces using machines. The torching process is still all done by Jones by hand, which means that no two pieces are exactly the same.

Jones prefers not to work with semi-precious stones and more expensive metals. "People ask me why I work with copper when I could make more if I were working with a finer metal and gemstones," she says. "I can't picture myself there for one, and I really like being able to have contact with more people because my work is accessible."

Jones takes pride in the fact that her handmade jewelry is affordable. "I believe art is for everybody and that everybody should be able to have a piece of artwork that is handmade and within their price range. So, I feel very good about my pins selling at $22, and people who want something completely handmade and unusual and different have access to that."

Jones uses a great deal of recycled copper, which she collects from recycling centers, and she purchases sheet copper from Lancaster Metals. She has a special affinity for copper. "It's a soft metal, so it can be hand-worked more," she says. "And it has the ability to change its surface - texture, color. I also make patinas that I put the copper in, and depending on the mixture, I can get different results - a blue patina or a green patina." Jones especially appreciates this variety that copper offers her compared to other metals. "Copper has so much personality and depth," she says.

Resources:

Kindred Spirit Designs, Kempton, PA, (610) 987-0936

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