Copper in the Arts

December 2014

C. Olivard Designs: Leaving a Lasting Impression Through Copper

By Paul David

Artist Colleen Olivard of Wyomissing, PA started stamping jewelry in brass and copper about two years ago as a way to celebrate the special milestones of her growing family. Now, as a mom of four kids under nine working part time as a physical therapist, capturing treasured moments through her growing jewelry design business helps fulfill her need for creative expression.

Brass NecklaceC. Olivard Handstamped Brass Necklace

She started C. Olivard Designs in 2012 shortly after her third child was born.

“I wanted a mother’s necklace with my children’s names on it and I had a friend who wore a stamped necklace that I admired,” she recalls. “I grew up in a family that valued the art of handcrafting so I decided to try my hand at stamping metals myself. That Christmas, I had nine gifts to buy for my girls’ preschool teachers and thought that I would try making something special that would be more personal for them.”

She started by searching Google for online handstamping tutorials, and shortly after went to her local hardware store to buy her first set of letter stamps and brass and copper washers to start practicing. The first piece she created was a keychain stamped with love, inspire, teach and the teacher’s name. She was soon hooked on creating these namesake pieces for other family and friends, and began expanding her business. Although she works in mixed metals, she likes how copper adds an earthy feel to her jewelry, especially as the metal ages and develops a patina. She has also expanded to create other signature pieces in her collection, including her popular bird nest ring.

“Two of my favorite pieces that I make with copper are a wire wrapped bird ring with turquoise beads and a nest locket,” she says. “I use a copper disc and stamp it with dots and lines to make it look like a nest and then cup it into a nest shape with my dapping block.”

Olivard has found that some of the most effective ways to create her jewelry are often untraditional.

“I do not have a true workshop set up in my home--There it just no room!” she says. “I have found that I get the best impressions when I put my bench blocks on my tile floor and use a two pound hammer. I use liver of sulphur to oxidize the metal and pro polish pads to finish the metal.

She purchases many of her blanks from Beaducation, and has a disc cutter on her future wish list. She currently sells online, at local art shows, and at a few local shops. Olivard has been perfecting her craft since she started 2 years ago, and is excited to experiment with other tools, methods and styles.

“My jewelry has definitely improved since the first necklace and key chain over four years ago,” she says. “I am much more comfortable with the process and have become more creative with the designs and layout of the piece, including swirling words around a disc. My assortment of tools has grown and improved over time, including a dapping block and texturing hammer to create different finishes on the metal.”

Olivard continues to be inspired by her customers, and the joy her work brings to their lives.

“I love making something for someone and having them come back and tell me how much the personalized piece meant to their friend fighting cancer, or a grandmother or mother who loves to wear their children’s names close to their heart,” she says. “I would love to focus more time and effort on marketing my work, and will one day do that, but for now it’s perfect as it is. As the mother of four children ages eight, six, four, and two, and a part time physical therapist, my cottage industry gives me joy and a sense of creative accomplishment in my very full and hectic life!”

Resources:

C. Olivard Designs, Wyomissing, PA

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