Much like the jewelry she creates, Judith Sterling’s life as an artist continues to evolve.
The 64-year-old East Canton native began as a painter, dedicating about 20 years of her life to the craft before she began to see art in a more three-dimensional form. She then immersed herself in ceramics and sculpture for a decade, along the way obtaining a degree in fine and professional arts at Kent State University in 2005 and studying marble sculpture and classical high relief clay sculpture at the Lorenzo de’ Medici School in Italy in 2007.
Sterling turned to jewelry making roughly eight years ago. It first began as a side hobby, but she soon found herself seeking opportunities to learn more about metalsmithing.
“I like that I can hammer out my frustrations,” Sterling said with a laugh. “… What I like about the jewelry is that it becomes an heirloom, something treasured, a remembrance of an event. Jewelry becomes timeless. You don’t have to think about where you are going to put it on the wall.”
Since returning from a two-week intensive training at the prestigious Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina in late August, Sterling has been busy designing and hammering new jewelry pieces in her Jackson Township home studio for her latest collection titled “Darkness Among the Light.”
She said the collection is inspired by nature, and the pieces incorporate the twists and turns of a vine with leaf accents.
“Nature should be held close and cherished,” said Sterling, who also teaches jewelry making for beginners and intermediate learners at the Canton Museum of Art. “It is the light that guides us when darkness looms.”
Sterling is using the new silversmithing techniques she learned from the Penland workshop in the new collection. She starts with a flat piece of sterling silver, then hammers it until the sheet curves and eventually takes the shape of a round tube. From there, Sterling continues to shape the metal into a loop or circle, depending on whether she’s creating a necklace, bracelet, ring, earring or other piece of eye-catching jewelry.
The new collection also includes edgier variations of the vines and leaves with pieces featuring industrialized designs and textures created by a hydraulic press as well as touches of deep black colors that contrast with the polished silver for a modern feel.
“A lot of jewelry now is going industrial, and I wanted to have that modern edgy look to it to be current but also stay true to myself,” she said.
Sterling says her collection will continue to evolve. The mother of three grown children who enjoys biking, scuba diving and a good book club plans to incorporate gold pieces that she believes will give the collection an added touch of elegance. She hopes to eventually see her lifetime of art come full circle.
“At some point, it will be cool to incorporate the ceramics into the jewelry,” she said. “It would be great to incorporate all these things I’ve done and can do. I think it can make it more exciting.”
You can find Sterling’s jewelry at the Christkindl Markt from November 10 through 12 at the Canton Museum of Art, at the Canton Museum of Art’s store and online at judithsterling.com.