There are some addictions that are undeniably bad for you, and then there are the addictions that add to your life, rather than detract from it. For Sarah Abramson, her addiction to jewelry-making not only gives her a natural high, but it also earns her a living. And she creates distinctive, beautiful works of wearable art by indulging in her passion.
Sarah’s repertoire of jobs recently expanded to include a position developing the new Jewelry Design: Beading and Wire Working Course for the Sheffield School, and she’s been appointed as the Course’s first instructor. Until this past spring, Sarah held a prestigious position as artist-in-residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, where she answered visitors’ questions and demonstrated her techniques in jewelry-making.
That experience, Sarah said, will come in handy as she begins teaching her first students at Sheffield.
“Not only did it help boost my confidence in myself as an artist, but it forced me to really nail down the proper language when speaking about my work. I made a lot of new work while working in the studio, and I met tons of people that I otherwise would not have crossed paths with. Overall, it was an invaluable experience for me.”
Sarah has already started working with students who want to learn about jewelry design, and she’s looking forward to taking them through the various techniques they’ll learn in the Course. She said she knows she’ll be getting students who will engage her own imagination.
“Anyone who signs up for this class is a driven, motivated person who is ready to sink their teeth into a new talent or hobby—or maybe even a new career,” she said.
Sarah’s enthusiasm for her art is infectious, and she hopes her students’ interest will catch fire as they work with her. “My lifelong love of beading will be informative and hopefully inspirational to my students, and I'll be ready to field any questions—creative, technical, or random—that may come up,” she said.
Even though Sarah was always interested in art, jewelry in particular, she started her career in the fashion industry in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. “I wanted more creativity and freedom in my work,” she said. “At the time I had been making and selling lots of beaded jewelry. I sold my work at trunk shows, at the wholesale market, and in boutiques around Atlanta.” She spent her profits buying more jewelry-making supplies: more silver, more beads, and more tools.
“Eventually I recognized that I was able to actually make part of my living from selling my jewelry. So, after a lot of debate, I quit my job and put into motion the changes that would lead me to where I am today.”
As a child, she loved making friendship bracelets and beaded jewelry, and loved knowing that her mother, sister, or friend would be wearing it. She’s always been fascinated by miniatures, and right now is inspired by the enamel miniatures at the Frick Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “These are not actually jewelry---they are liturgical pieces such as relic boxes, ceremonial goblets, and placards. However, they use some of the same techniques I am using in my current body of work,” she said.
Sarah sees her work as personal, and even though she can’t possibly meet everyone who buys a piece of hers, when she does have the opportunity to sell her work directly, she enjoys talking to the buyer. “The act of the patron getting to know me a little bit becomes part of their understanding of my piece, and hopefully that is a good thing for them—it is for me.
She says that it’s never difficult for her to let go of her pieces: “I can always make it again!” she says. “And if I make something that I really fall in love with (or something that marks a huge shift in my working style) I’ll give it to my mom or sister, that way I can always ‘visit’ the piece again.”
In addition to making her distinctive jewelry, Sarah makes ink paintings and sketches for her work. She also works in watercolors and makes her own birthday, thank-you, and other occasion cards. And she’s a dedicated contributor to the community of artists: currently, she is the curator for 10-10-10, an exhibition of ten graduates of the State University of New York.
Sarah Abramson’s excitement about jewelry-making is contagious, and we hope many students will catch the fever by working with her. If you want to see more of her work, visit her website at www.sarahabramson.us
Come learn how to make jewelry of your own at our jewelry making class here at NYIAD.