Being an artisan requires a deep understanding of one's craft. Barbara is a top jewelry artisan and shares her knowledge with those who aspire to be one. In the '70s, an era where automation was gaining more traction, Barbara discovered her goal - to become an artisan of metal and create lasting jewelry pieces with her hands.
Barbara Kennedy is the owner of Artisans of Metal and Thread, a metalsmithing studio that focuses on educating individuals on the fundamentals of goldsmithing and silversmithing. This approach allows students to be more independent and creative with their pieces. From the necessary skills that Barbara shares, many of her students have further developed their passion for jewelry and established their businesses.
Just like her students, Barbara’s passion for jewelry enabled her to become an entrepreneur. After discovering her passion in junior high, Barbara decided to apprentice in an all-women silversmithing studio in Chicago. She continued learning the trade and later decided that the joy of jewelry making should be shared with others.
“People get so excited to make jewelry themselves. It gives students confidence and pride to make a piece of jewelry.”
Sharing this joy comes with challenges that make the experience even more memorable. For Barbara, working with the torch is one of the more challenging lessons to teach. She states that most students have never used a torch, and some are afraid of fire.
“I approach working with the torch with caution - you are in control. You turn it on and off. If you ever feel things aren’t working on a piece turn off the torch.”
In Barbara’s years of teaching, she has seen how students’ preferences differ. Students make jewelry in different colors and sizes. Memorable pieces that she has seen include plus-size bangles. Being an artisan gives one the freedom to modify and create according to one’s likes.
For Barbara, nature fuels creativity. Her first line of jewelry pieces drew inspiration from floral, pansies, dogwood, and iris. She also appreciates natural Turquoise stones for each stone has its depth of color and beautiful details. Her love for Turquoise stems from it being her birthstone and its connection to Native American jewelry and the Southwest. To ensure that her work is top quality, Barbara only uses genuine stones.
“I want my jewelry to be natural and hold up for generations to come.”
Further sharing the joy of creating jewelry, Barbara gives her number one tip for rising creators:
“Jewelry making is fun. I worked after hours to hone my skills. Make a few of something to get good at that skill. Try things and find what you love and make it. Others will be drawn to your work. Stay true to yourself.“
Check out Barbara's website to learn more about her classes:
I am currently taking private classes with Barbara Kennedy – not only is she a truly wonderful person and a joy to be around, she is amazingly talented at not only her craft but teaching it. She allows a wonderful balance of instruction while encouraging you to create and decide what you want to accomplish. I have learned so much in a relatively short amount of time and am honing my skills week by week. Her space is inviting and spacious, providing all the tools one needs to create and plenty of inspiration with her completed work all around. I consider myself very fortunate to have found Barbara. Thank you -