Turning Clay Into Silver

Growing up in Providence, R.I., where a lot of costume jewelry is produced, Gloria Kelman began designing jewelry in high school. “My father was friends with someone sold beads by the pound,” she says. “I bought some beads from him and started stringing them.” After graduating from George Washington University with a fine arts degree, Kelman, 43, traveled around the U.S., making and selling jewelry. “As I traveled, I’d stop at places to sell my stuff,” she says. “When I needed to make the jewelry, I’d go to the nearest park with all my supplies and fill my orders.”The leaf pendant (right), which is strung on silver wire with freshwater pearls, and the dog pendant (top right) are made with silver clay and worked with stamps that Kelman designed. “Silver clay is very accessible, and you can create any kind of texture you want. It doesn’t feel like silver when you’re shaping it,” she says. “But, when you’re done there’s this A-Ha! moment when you take it out of the kiln and hear that metal clink.” After Kelman’s dog pendant was shown in Bark magazine, she received a large number of custom pendant commissions. “People whose dogs had recently died sent me photos of them asking me if I could make a pendant from the picture,” she says. “I’ve made a lot of dogs.” Both the leaf and dog pendants are 1¼ inches. The cost varies according to materials and customization, but the average price of a piece is about $60. Contact jewelry deisgner Gloria Kelman by e-mail at [email protected] or via her website at Her jewelry is sold at Gilt (503-226-0629; 720 N.W. 23rd Ave.) and at Beads at Dusti Creek (503-235-4800; 4848 S.E. Division St.) in Portland.