I get asked a lot about how I ended up making jewelry out of concrete of all things. The answer is, I was trying to find a way to avoid creating waste. I started this business making small décor pieces using pigmented concrete like planters, candle holders, and the like. I would always have a small amount left over after the casting. This makes sense, as it’s better to have a little too much than not quite enough, right? Still, it bothered me to waste even that small amount, so the mental wheels started turning about what I could do with the excess.
I found small molds for pendants, intended for casting resin jewelry. The results were interesting. Much like many of my customers, I was concerned about the weight of the concrete. It turned out that this is just an interesting psychological association. Since we always see concrete being used for big, heavy things, we assume that it is heavy by nature. Concrete is not, however, heavier than other stones. In fact, since it is mixed with air during the mixing process, it is porous and lighter than some denser stones. Once I was convinced (and I was able to convince my wife) that concrete pendants and earrings were wearable, I was ready to move on to other challenges.
With jewelry, particularly earrings, minimizing weight is important and thickness is the most obvious way to control weight. But, concrete, if made too thin, can be quite fragile. There are a few things I did to overcome this. First, I developed a concrete mix that is quite hardy. Second, I made my own molds that have enough thickness to be strong, but not so much to be weighty. Third, I mount the stones on stainless steel for reinforcement.
In answer to another frequently asked question, I do not paint the concrete; the color is in the stone itself. Each color that you see in one of my concrete stones is either a separate batch of concrete or the result of several pigments in the mix combining to create new hues. Because of the methods I have developed to pour the concrete, no two stones are alike. Each and every concrete stone is uniquely beautiful and beautifully unique. This can create challenges in making matching pairs of earrings, or even more difficult, creating an entire matched set of jewelry. I cannot go back and make a piece that matches something I made earlier. If you are trying to find a match for a piece you once purchased, it’s possible that I still have some stones from that specific pour, but I cannot guarantee it. Even so, stone poured one after the other can come out wildly different. I am at the whim of physics I cannot always control. This is part of the fun of what I make, but also part of the frustration.
Sometimes I get asked if I will use gold or silver to make my jewelry. The answer is probably not. I quite like the unexpected irony of using these industrial materials of concrete and steel to produce such lovely, delicate pieces of wearable art. I was never in this to make fine jewelry, I’m in it for the art. The jewelry is a happy side effect.
I often feel like I invented this category of concrete jewelry myself, however it turns out that there others out there making their own concrete jewelry. Some may have been inspired by my visible journey on Instagram or Facebook. Others may have had the same inspirations that I had. It’s interesting to see what else is out there. Regardless, you can certainly identify my work. The color combinations, patterns, and swirls are my uniquely Funky Designs.