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Paw Print Jewelry, Behind the Scenes with Tracy Menz Designs
One by one...that's how our silver paw print jewelry is created thanks to Tracy Menz Designs. Wanting to learn a little more about what inspires Tracy and the steps involved in making her artistic jewelry, we set up an interview with her. We learned there is a lot of work that goes into each piece of dog jewelry or cat jewelry!
Q: The jewelry you create is very organic with a nod to nature. What led you to design a line of animal-inspired jewelry?
A:My inspiration flows from how our natural surroundings create an authentic beauty that is organic and textural. I have an unbridled love for all things outdoors... the water, animals, and sunshine. I grew up in a rural setting and was exposed to horses, rabbits, dogs, cats, fish and guinea pigs at an early age. I developed a keen appreciation to love all creatures great and small . I raised my children on the water and they too have a love for nature. Because of this exposure to nature, I create pieces reflective of this love for the outdoors and the ocean.
Q:What types of materials do you use to make your one-of-a-kind pieces?
A: In keeping with my love of nature, my work is centered on reclaimed product... metals and gems. My material of choice is Pure Metal Clay (PMC). PMC is a fabulous medium I fell in love with the first time I touched it. It is made of reclaimed silver nano particles and is 99.99% pure silver. PMC is mixed with an organic binder that allows the precious metal to become malleable, so I am able to carve, mold and design products to fit a clients request. Once a charm is carved, formed and textured, the metal clay is dried slowly, then fired in a kiln, polished, and finished. To bring out textures, I use an organic oxidizer to darken areas for added depth, and then polished the piece again. I like to add local sea glass that I have found on the Eastern Shore, as well as shells and gemstones. Additionally I enjoy incorporating antique wax seals and stamps or molds I have created into my pieces.
Q: Knowing you Tracy, a lot of love goes into
each of your pieces. From start to finish how long does it take to make a charm
and what steps are involved with its creation?
A: Thank you Michelle! I definitely try to put effort and personalize artistic touch into each piece. Every piece is handmade, one at a time, so no two are ever the same. Each one will be “imperfectly perfect” as I am not perfect but diligently strive to make each piece so. It takes approximately 3-4 days to design a piece
start to finish. This includes the drawing, the PMC work, the firing and the final polishing. Some pieces can take longer, depending on the complexity and intricacy of the design. For example, my “Love Maryland Paw Charm” took several weeks to complete from preliminary design to finished product. Once I have a vision of the piece I want to create, I first render a rough drawing, and then I work out the size and shape with paper. I then move on to creating the drawing in Pure Metal Clay. The “Love Maryland Paw Charm” took several iterations in order for the state of Maryland design to lie correctly when placed on a chain. Using PMC, I am able to carve, mold and design to fit my needs as well as the client’s needs. Once the charm is carved and formed, and texture added (I like using what nature provides... a shell, pine needle, nuts, leaves etc.). The metal clay is dried slowly and then any final touches such as creating the hole or bail for the charm to hang are added. The piece is then hand-sanded, and placed in the kiln to be fired from 1290 - 1650 degrees. The finished product comes out of the kiln perfectly hardened into Fine Silver. I then hand polish and sand each piece until “charmingly” finished. There will be slight imperfections. Just like nature , not perfect but still unique and beautiful.
Q: While we love offering your line of jewelry that celebrates companion animals at Paws, you design many other types of jewelry pieces. Where can people find your jewelry?
A:I love creating my pet jewelry line exclusively for Paws Pet Boutique . You cannot find these pieces anywhere else. However, you can find my other jewelry designs locally at Whole Foods Markets in Annapolis and Columbia MD. My gemstone and luxe collections can be found at Wrabyn in West Annapolis, Meadow Hill Wellness Center in Annapolis, and if you happen to be on the West Coast, please visit Europa Boutique in Mendocino, CA for authentic Fort Bragg Sea Glass creations. In prehistoric time, the Fort Bragg, CA area was home to the Native Americans, most of whom belonged to the Pomo tribe. Glass Beach is on the edge of town, along the Pacific Ocean. The tides in the area bring old, discarded glass pieces to the beach daily. A friend collects the Fort Bragg glass and sends them to me for my uniquely California designs.
Thanks for sharing a behind-the-scenes look at your beautiful jewelry Tracy! We've always liked to call it feel-good jewelry because you can feel the love that goes into each piece. Come see Tracy's pieces at Paws pet boutique downtown Annapolis or check out her paw print jewelry and other dog jewelry and cat jewelry lines on our website.