Paula MacDowell
Metal, Jewelry

Lafayette, LA

I am a jewelry artist. I create jewelry objects that echo nature’s textures, forms and movements. Years ago, when my creativity was longing to be expressed, I started investigating jewelry techniques. None satisfied my need, or let me express myself, until I found metal clay.

Metal Clays contain microscopic particles of metal carried in a clay-like binder. This allows the artist the ability to work with the material in its wet state much like a potter works with pottery clays. In its dry state, the material can be carved, drilled, cut and re-assembled into new objects, somewhat like a woodworker. And once the object is subjected to a firing cycle in a kiln, the result is an object of metal in which traditional metalsmithing techniques used by bench jewelers can be applied to continue to manipulate the object. I am fascinated both by the technological details of how this happens, but also with the ability to continue to affect the object as it progresses through its various states.

I generally make one-of-a-kind items, or related items in a series. Since each piece is hand sculpted, even items that are similar will have artistic variations in texture, pattern and shape. I also have a strong need to communicate my love of the material to others, and I offer classes in these materials at several locations around the state. While I focus on the technical use of the materials, I allow my students creative freedom to explore their emerging skills. This has created a community in which ideas are shared and support is generously given.