The countdown to JCK Las Vegas continues, and the excitement builds for the newly revamped Design Center! In addition to emerging jewelry designers fresh from graduate school or embarking on second careers, there are some returning designers who have achieved a certain iconic status within the design world. Register to attend JCK Las Vegas today.
I have the privilege of looking at a LOT of jewelry, many of it designed by talented designers. Once in a while, I encounter someone who is not only a tremendous craftsperson, but also has somehow transcended “jewelry as art” to a wearable form—without sacrificing an accessible appeal. Looking at the work of Audrius Krulis, I can see the foundation of his education and work as a sculptor and his skill at translating that into jewelry: The hand of the artist is so apparent in each piece of his jewelry. Krulis creates dimensional work with gemstones of exceptional character framed by organic frames of fluid metal. One look, and you’ll be as intrigued as I am. Be sure to stop by and try on his jewelry.
With your origin as a sculptor, what are the challenges of working with precious metals or jewelry as your medium?
In many ways, I see an advantage in working with jewelry. Sculpture has taught me to see the final product from all perspectives: back to front, inside to outside, from 10 feet away or under a microscope. However, the difficulty is that sometimes people have expectations about jewelry, which unfortunately place art second and material first.
True. Speaking of materials, do you have a favorite gemstone or material to work with?
I love stones that have life in their shape and color. Mostly I find this in sapphires, tourmalines, and opals.
How does your process work? Do you start with a design or do you let the design unfold as you work?
The process is very dynamic as I work from drawing to carving, and back to sketching. It starts with a sketch, but as the work unfolds I already have 10 more ideas that I can’t wait to bring to life!
Your earrings, bracelets, and rings are all equally well realized. Do you have a favorite jewelry category to design?
No, I don’t have a preference, but many of my designs do start from rings, especially when I am working on a new style or line. Once I have the essential look, I can start creating the custom mechanism to suit a necklace or bracelet.
You have been making jewelry for many years, first working for others, then designing your own line. What keeps you excited about jewelry?
Every time I begin carving away at the surface, I reveal an intimate new story in its form; it can never grow old because there are infinite secrets to uncover. It charms me to see so many people fascinated with my craftsmanship and their admiration of jewelry for the sake of its beauty.
What are you most looking forward to at the JCK Las Vegas Design Center?
I look forward to seeing what everyone else has done this past year, where the trends are heading in this particular circle of jewelers, and what consumers are saying.
What would you offer as words of wisdom to a jewelry designer just starting out?
Always be yourself and enjoy what you do. Design and create with passion; jewelry should always be fresh, inspired, and happy.
I just heard Jack Ogden say, “What matters is not what inspired a jewel, but what that jewel inspires in us.” What do you hope your jewels inspire in the wearer?
I hope the wearer finds an intimate connection to the jewelry—it should inspire confidence in their personality by accentuating their character and lifestyle.
I find that many of the most original jewelry designers are rebels of a sort. When you choose the road less taken as a jewelry designer or maker, there is a renegade personality that goes along with that. Patrick Murphy of Murphy Design fits that description. His eclectic learning style and a lifelong fascination with nature—the sublime and the surreal—combined to make jewelry an appealing career on acres of farmland in Wisconsin. A number of years later, his pioneering approach makes us look at gemstones and form in a whole new way. But don’t worry—he’s still a rebel at heart and will have his new, remarkable pieces at the Design Center at JCK Las Vegas.
Are all of your pieces hand-fabricated? A combination of techniques?
Most of our work is hand-fabricated, though we cast some parts and some rings.
Do your jewelry creations take shape organically on the bench, or do you have a vision before you start?
We generally plan out our pieces before we go to the bench.
Gemstone first, or sketch/design and then find the gemstone?
Gemstones generally come first.
Are your gems cut for you?
Whenever possible we buy the gems already cut, but there are many materials or specific shapes that we must do ourselves.
You design a lot of pendants. What is it the allure of that category?
The types, cuts, and sizes of gems we like lend themselves to pendants more readily than earrings or rings. Pendants are more flexible and affordable than necklaces.
How long have you been exhibiting at JCK Design Center? What brings you back?
We exhibited at the very first JCK show and have done all the shows, except for a brief hiatus. We come back because JCK is the premiere jewelry show and draws large numbers of buyers.
How does your workshop’s woodland setting and lifelong attraction to nature affect your work?
My studio is no longer in the woods, but my love of nature continues to draw me to minerals and unique gems.
What kind of retailer or gallery is a good fit for your jewelry?
Independent retailers and designer jewelers. Shops that understand unique materials and handmade work.
Think about five years from now: What does the future hold for Patrick Murphy?
I intend to be doing the same thing.