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ME Designs / Elisabeth Mahnken

Necklaces by Lis Mahnken, ME Designs.

Necklaces by Lis Mahnken, ME Designs. Photo © Elisabeth Mahnken

My jewelry designs are predominately fine silver. I create my pieces using metal clay, which is a finely ground silver mixed with an organic binder and water. It starts out in a clay form that allows for complete freedom of design through shaping, carving, molding and texturing. I combine my metal clay work with dichroic glass that I make as well. I also use natural stones, gold, enamels, resins, pearls and more to complement my designs.

Once I have created the piece I dry the clay and fire it in a kiln between 1110 degrees and 1650 degrees. This burns off the binder and sinters the silver particles leaving virtually pure silver (99.9%). I then polish to a bright silver finish and add a patina if I feel it will enhance the mood of the piece.

Many of my designs are inspired by nature. I create garden pieces using real leaves and my own renditions of insects and garden sprites. Likewise, the ocean offers a vast array of design elements, such as shells, starfish, water and sea life. My collection includes necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, pins, and men’s jewelry. This year I have started a new line, “The Charm Bar,” which features a large variety of hand-soldered charms. The customer experiences the fun of choosing the charms that will create their custom piece of jewelry. Once they make their selections we assemble their pieces at the show.

I began working with metal clay in the year 2000. Since that time I have earned a “Rio Rewards” Certification, “PMC Connection” Certification and an “Art Clay World” Certification. Working with metal clay has brought me such freedom of design that I developed an absolute passion for making jewelry. When I am not doing shows I use my certification credentials to teach Metal Clay at “Just Bead It” in Concord, at the Pinole Art Center and in my studio.

In 2013 I plan to begin teaching classes at The Village Shops & Galleries in El Cerrito. I previously served as President and Board Member of the El Sobrante Art Guild. I also am a member of the Pinole Art Center and the San Francisco Bay Area Silver Clay Guild. I sell my jewelry on my website, at my Etsy shop, at many shows throughout the year, galleries and shops.

Some of the shows I will be doing this year include several of The Harvest Festivals, Tempe Festival of the Arts and The 4th Avenue Street Fair in Arizona, Horizon Casino/McCollum Studios Shows at South Lake Tahoe, The Gilroy Garlic Festival, Bodega Bay Art, Wine & Seafood Festival, Danville Art and Wine and many more. I keep a current list of my show schedule posted on my website.