Copper in the Arts

March 2011

Sweet Freedom Designs: Reborn through Copper

By Ashley Morris

Freeform Blue, Green, and Copper Beaded Metal Necklace Freeform Blue, Green, and Copper Beaded
Metal Necklace.

Photograph courtesy of Lesley Garrison

With a unique line of copper rings and earrings, bracelets, pendants and necklaces, Sweet Freedom Designs is a reflection of Lesley Garrison's reincarnated happiness.

"I had a formal life--a pre-jewelry life," says Garrison. "I mean, I bought jewelry all the time, but I had a corporate job, working for the government in the medical field, and it was sucking the life out of me. I was looking for alternative things to do."

She found the answer while on vacation at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, taking several of the beading classes they offered at the all-inclusive resort.

"All of a sudden, I realized that I could do this," says Garrison. "I came home, all excited, and within six months I quit my job with an early out pension opportunity. Hence, the name of my company, Sweet Freedom."

Based out of Aiken, S.C., Garrison soon fell upon another opportunity in June 2007 to increase profits in her newfound career when a studio opened up just about 20 miles away in Augusta, Georgia. The space has been perfect, serving Garrison not only a fully stocked studio, but also a place where she can create her own beading supplies, showcase her completed designs, and even hold workshops to teach other jewelry lovers in the area.

Garrison's handcrafted expressions are a fusion of silversmithing, copper work, bead weaving, wire wrapping and glass-fusing. Sometimes a few of those techniques are combined into one piece, leaving her free to experiment with new designs.

Etched Copper Pendant with Azurite-Malachite and Swarovski Crystals Etched Copper Pendant with Azurite-Malachite
and Swarovski Crystals.

Photograph courtesy of Lesley Garrison

"I love taking raw copper mixed with bead weaving and working with this organic process," she says. "I'll etch the metal, texturize it and hammer the copper. A group of interested customers get together here once a month to set up the acid and chemical process because it's very involved. We brainstorm, teach, learn, and feed off each other's creativity."

Garrison attends the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts in Georgia four times a year to fine-tune her jewelry-making skills.

"Copper is so forgiving to work with," she continues. "If I hammer a mark or a hole in the wrong place, I can just rework it into the design. And it's an affordable medium. I get a lot of comments about the unique and affordability about my pendants and bracelets. My line appeals to different people."

Especially unique is Garrison's tribute to the South Carolina state flag, with her palmetto and moon copper-and-silver enameled pendant.

"My creativity was stifled in my pre-jewelry life, but now I have my hands in everything like this," she says.

Resources:

Sweet Freedom Designs, August, GA, (706) 651-1147

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