Wire wrapping jewelry artist, Larkin Hamilton sells stunning pieces of art. What's most impressive is these pieces come from a Southern Oregon teen that's just starting a lapidary career.
Q: How did you become interested in wire wrapping jewelry and beading and how did you master the techniques?
A: When I was about six, my mum got me a book on how to make little beaded critters (bees, dragonflies, skunks, etc.) and I loved it. I spent some time working through the patterns in that book and then started to want something more challenging. I found more complex patterns and techniques on YouTube. The YouTube algorithm started suggesting basic wire wrapping how-to videos. They were really interesting to watch, but it took a while to commit to buying supplies and trying it out myself. After about a year of watching other people play with wire, my uncle gave me a jeweler’s sampler pack of copper wire and I fell in love with it. By then I already knew some basic techniques, so it felt like I hit the ground running.
Q: How did you develop your style?
A: After mastering basic wire wrapping techniques, I spent a long time working on my own projects without looking at what other people were making so I could develop my own style. I spent a lot of time looking at other people’s work and thinking about how I could combine, adapt, and expand on elements of the pieces I liked. I then took a long break to give myself the space to develop a distinct style. Design work became much easier when I started to incorporate cabochons into the mix because I already felt like each stone had a pattern best suited to it. I find that the rocks I choose already have their own tiny worlds that I want to showcase and compliment. I have never been drawn to wraps into which any old stone could be dropped.
Q: I see that you first learned how to master lapidary skills at The Crater Rock Museum near Medford, Oregon. How old were you when you started to learn how to cut and cab?
A: I had been drawn to lapidary work for quite a while, but had to wait until I met the museum rock shop’s age requirement (14) and had finished their training program before I could finally get my hands on the machines. Now, being able to select my own rough and designing and cutting my own cabs has given me even more freedom to create unique pieces. I can choose exactly how any patterns in the stones are positioned and design the wire and stone portions of a finished piece at the same time.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Being homeschooled allows me to focus on learning new techniques and expanding my knowledge base. I have a pretty good handle on cabbing, but not much else when it comes to lapidary work. I would like to get a faceting machine and learn how to facet gemstones, mostly to play with setting them in rings. My parents remind me I’ve always had a penchant for tiny things so this seems like a natural progression. I would also like to spend more time playing with a wider variety of metalwork. I’ve done a tiny bit of metalsmithing and I’d love to expand my toolset and abilities there, as well as getting set up to do metal casting.
This story about a wire wrapping jewelry artist previously appeared in Rock & Gem magazine. Click here to subscribe! Story by Jim Landon.