When artist and jewelrymaker Elyse Bunkers discovered metal, she knew she’d found her medium. “It’s nice to work with such a stable material,” she says. “But I also like that I can manipulate it.”
Bunkers, a Michigan native, grew up in a creative family and always planned on becoming an artist. “We have an interior designer, a potter and a carpenter in the family,“ she says. “Growing up, we always had our arts-and-crafts time.”
She graduated from the Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, where her studies and projects led her to metalwork. “I got into bead-making, and then I got into pottery,” she says. “When I wanted to do sculptures, I realized that some of them couldn’t be made out of clay.”
In her studio under the Hawthorne Bridge, Bunkers creates pieces that are practical, yet have a bit of whimsy. “I make a lot of jewelry,” she says. “I made a ring that has a miniature boxing ring, complete with boxers and a bell, on top of it. But I also like to make things that are functional.”
The silver teapot (pictured) isn’t just for display. It can also serve as the centerpiece for a proper tea party. “It actually pours great!” says Bunkers. “I designed it for an assignment while I was still at OCAC. The guidelines were that it had to pour and it had to be made of metal. It’s hollow-form and made with flat sheets of silver. I always try to mix the organic with the geometric. I like to mix spherical shapes with the angular.” The teapot costs $5,000. Bunkers’ jewelry starts at $25.
Contact metalsmith Elyse Bunkers via elysebunkers.com. Her work can also be seen at OCAC’s Hoffman Gallery (8245 S.W. Barnes Rd., 503-297-5544) and at Radish Underground (414 S.W. 10th Ave., 503-928-6435) in Portland.