Heart of Texas Magazine

Dawna Gillespie: Texas Metalsmith and Jewelry Designer Extraordinaire

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With an unwavering purpose to restore and reunite: individuality, reverence to craftsmanship, and the world’s intrinsic beauty; I am connecting never-reproduced adornments and beautiful souls together, one at a time.”

Dawna appreciates the sensual progression of creating beauty for others, and she bonds with a client through her art. When a purchaser places Dawna’s handiwork on their body, or displays it in their home, Dawna feels their souls are joined together through energy, space, and time. She connects—one soul at a time. Perhaps they share different perspectives, but the two, artist and wearer, are linked.

Dawna’s ideas for her artwork come from life-story events. The sawing of metal evokes a deep, passionate response within her spirit, but designs can take an emotional toll also. She explains how the complicated shapes are like pages from her diary. For instance, marriage inspired one of her pieces. This exquisite design from metal symbolizes a private event for her.

Dawna Gillespie: Texas Metalsmith and Jewelry Designer Extraordinaire

Creating artwork is not just making jewelry. She says, “In my life, I’ve gone through hardship and joy. I turn any negative experiences into positive ones through my art, and I give back beauty.” Even though special events inspire her, she chooses not to divulge the motivation behind the designs. Dawna prefers for the wearer to connect in his/her exclusive way. What Dawna perceives as a self-portrait incident, the majority might identify in an alternative fashion. Just as a canvas evokes various emotional responses from an onlooker, Dawna hopes clients will experience a personal reaction to her metal sculptures. Perception of art depends on one’s senses. Each person sees, feels, tastes, or hears something exceptional in a painting, photograph, or sculpture. Dawna wants people to relate to her artwork in their own way, not hers.

Photos courtesy of Dawna Gillespie

Dawna orders her sheets of brass and copper from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The weight depends on the gauge of metal, but she says it’s usually 18-24 gauge. She draws a pattern on paper first and then glues the design onto metal. The time-intensive process requires cutting out the pieces with a special saw. Dawna can spend hours cutting, sawing, and hammering a necklace. The procedure can take as much as 80 hours or more, but when she’s finished, the piece is almost weightless—and it’s a gorgeous piece of wearable art. There’s something special about taking a flat sheet of metal and turning it into a dimensional piece of jewelry.