Flashback Friday: Metal Jewelry Archive Edition – Spheres and Coils

I guess this could just as easily have been “Throwback Thursday,” but it’s Friday, so “Flashback” it is! [Quite honestly, I’ve never understood the difference between the two.]

I’m going to add a small grouping of pieces to form a Metal Jewelry Archive soon, and I wanted to drop a few of my favorites here in advance of that–like this pair of earrings.

As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, I LOVE to make jewelry, but I’m not a big jewelry wearer. I never have been. I’m a former classical pianist, and rings are…inconvenient. They get in the way at a minimum, and at a maximum, they get lost because you have to take them off to practice. [Rings were one thing, but you should have seen my piano teacher’s face one year I came home for a break during college with long fake fingernails–he was NOT happy, and neither was I, for that matter. Clicking nails on the piano is not cool. I knew better, but I’d JUST gotten them done before leaving Florida, and I did not want to take them off just for an hour’s practice session. They were an impulse thing I did (because, color)–nails were never my cup of tea because I have my grandmother’s knuckles. ::chortle::]

Small silver and gold dangling sphere earrings

14K rose gold, sterling silver

In any case, I love this pair of earrings, and I wish I hadn’t sold them. I absolutely LOVED my dangling hand-formed spheres. I made several mokume gane pairs as well. I don’t know what it is about the coil element in my earrings, but I guess it’s something I was really into at the time.

I’ve knee-deep in new work, but I’ll try my best to get the metalwork gallery up soon.

Interesting Fordite Finds: Volume I

One of the things I love about Fordite is its versatility. Lapidarists who work with the material all have their own special way of cutting it. The unfortunate thing is, Fordite is such a niche material that once your source disappears, you’re lucky to find a similar style of cutting. That’s the case with my my faceted Fordite.

Image credit for the items below: Arthur of Freaking Cat Gems

This particular source already had a limited number of these types of pieces, so they were, quite literally, “rare.” Upon doing a recent search, my vendor no longer seems be in business (the same is true of my Dagenham Fordite supplier).

I LOVED these pieces and I hung on to them for a really long time, trying to figure out what to do with them. Then, I went on a creative sabbatical. Because I needed to clear my palate and come back to (jewelry) design with a fresh perspective, I sold all of the remaining gemstones and Fordite that I had at the time, including most of my collection of faceted “stones.” I held on to an INCREDIBLY amazing piece of faceted dinosaur bone that I purchased from this same lapidarist—I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it or make something to sell.

Although the purge was necessary, I did keep a few of these special pieces. Three, to be exact. When I saw how many I originally had it made me sick to my stomach that I let them all go. But, sometimes these kinds of purges are necessary for the sake of moving forward.

In the meantime, I’ll figure out what I want to do with my remaining faceted Fordite pieces, and when I do, I’ll drop a blog post, so stay tuned.

Celebrating Nichelle Nichols (and That Fabulous Turquoise Ring)

I’m sad that Nichelle Nichols made her transition back into The Universe. Although her declining health was a big issue over the past few years of her life, I’m happy she doesn’t have to suffer anymore.

I almost went to a Star Trek convention one year to see her, but my inner-INTJ got the better of me, and I just couldn’t do it (because, crowds). Do I wish I’d done it? Still not sure. Crowds. I would love to have thanked her in person for being such a huge role model for folks in STEM fields who look like me, and I would love to have gotten my hands on an autographed photo to hang in my studio for visual inspiration. But, crowds.

In my “tribute” to her, I can only say that The Nichelle Nichols Effect is real.

I’m a die-hard Trekkie, period, full-stop. I’ve never met a Trek franchise that I did not like. Yes, I even loved Enterprise AND its theme song for the first couple of seasons—Dianne Warren wrote it—I mean, c’mon man.

I can’t pick a favorite franchise, but the most recent three have me way up in my Trek feelings (their theme songs and opening sequences are AMAZING). I am in love with Picard because, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Discovery brought the fire with two female Starfleet captains–one of Asian descent, and the other Black–who cries *all the bloody time* but, I’ll live. And then it gave us that onion-chopping surprise appearance by Stacey Abrams as President of United Earth for the Season Four finale (my jaw is still on the floor because who saw that coming?).

Of the three new franchises, Strange New Worlds is pulling at me for the designation of all-time fave. The storytelling is spectacular, and Anson Mount is killing it as Captain Pike. —And the young Uhura’s character as portrayed by the incredible Celia Gooding? It’s hard to verbally express how much I appreciate the deep dive into Uhura’s background and her evolution into THE Lieutenant COMMANDER Uhura. Yes–that’s LIEUTENANT COMMANDER, bitches. –Actually, Uhura retired from Starfleet with Captain status, but that’s some Star Trek Universe-level storystuff. It’s so inspiring to be a fan-observer along for her ride as a cadet.

Funnily, the series I like the least is the original—mostly because of my impatience with the cheesiness, and because my lack of tolerance for the objectification of women and cliche gender roles is low. I know it was the times, but it’s still grating. That aside, it was groundbreaking—especially because of the empowering inclusion of Nichelle Nichols.

After her short-lived time on Star Trek, Nichols promoted programs at NASA—something else for which I am very grateful. I had no idea that my undergraduate alma mater was a stop on her astronaut recruitment tour for NASA in the 80s. Unbeknownst to most, I interned at JPL throughout my undergraduate years in the early nineties, and so did my husband. As a scientist-in-training (me) and engineer-in-training (him), we were part of the Minorities in Science in Engineering Initiative. I worked on the Software Product Assurance team for a Deep Space Network project, and he worked on the TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter mission. We both had INCREDIBLE mentors. I actually had two, and they were minority women—one was Asian, and the other was Black. It gives me chills thinking about the importance of that all these years later—and about the role Ms. Nichols played in recruiting folks who look like me into the organization as astronauts, scientists, and engineers.

On a different note, one of the non-science/sci-fi things I loved about Ms. Nichols is that she always wore a massive, gorgeous turquoise ring off-screen. She (and beloved folksinger, Richie Havens) sparked my love for Native American-made turquoise and silver jewelry. Because I try to respect other’s copyrights, I won’t post a photo of Ms. Nichols and her ring here, however, the LA Times has a lovely photo of her in a post-death write-up sporting that ring loudly and proudly.

The ring I made below was 100% inspired by Ms. Nichols. I made it for myself, but someone literally bought it off of my hand one year (in a restaurant, during lunch, in Downtown Chicago). I didn’t feel too bad at first because I’d never been a ring person. As a long-time classical pianist, rings were inconvenient—that, and I had a knack for cracking opals. I’m an October-baby, and I love my stone, but I am hella rough on hand opals.

On my birthday a couple years ago, I purchased several stunning Sleeping Beauty Turquoise cabochons—and a stunning old-stock Owyhee jasper—for ME, because I’m still trying to do Ms. Nichols (and Mr. Havens) with my turquoise look.

Although I love making jewelry more than I love wearing it, I’m kind of feeling like you’re not going to be able to get me out of my turquoise (and Owyhee jasper) rings when I’m finished. All of them. —And lordie, I do have some ideas. I have to figure out how to make what I’d like to make with them, but I am in love with the ideas. I regret selling my big turquoise ring because that was a gorgeous piece of Chinese turquoise. The day I find a large piece like that again—it is MINE. And I will wear all the damned turquoise rings in Ms. Nichols’ honor.

RIP, Ms. Nichols.

What’s in a name, and what’s this site all about? Part Two

Continued from What’s In a Name and What’s This Site All About? Part One

It was shocking and disturbing to see all of this in the beginning. It made me feel that, for reasons beyond my control, I couldn’t use my name for any future business ventures if I wanted to. Although I’d already moved forward with a new and entirely different business identity, the situation really pissed me off. I had new design work, new business cards, new stationery, a new website, and all of the accompanying accoutrements, but this forced me backward, or so I thought.

Me being me, I decided I couldn’t let the cybersquatting go unaddressed. So I exhaled and took a step back, did some research, and figured out how I wanted to proceed.

Part of “figuring out how I wanted to proceed” included remaining open to the opportunity to learn from anything—my approach to this situation was no different than the way I usually approach things. Sure, it sucked that it happened to me, but in a way I’m glad it did because I learned quite a bit. At a minimum it forced me to re-evaluate who I was at the time and who I really wanted to become as a designer-maker.

Though frustrating at times, the situation was also one of a couple of catalysts that launched my deep dive into the world of fine silk micro textiles that I make to this day—and for that, I am incredibly grateful. I can’t imagine this would have happened had Tamra Gentry Design Studio not been cybersquatted upon. Side-note: Can you tell that I have a whole-arsed-thing for color? Fordite? Minerals? Silk thread? —It’s kind of a theme throughout my work at this point.

[Image: Fine silk necklace with ties–all textiles handmade. Argentium sterling silver, 18K gold, Japanese fine silk thread. Image credit: Cole Rodger. You can see more of my textile work at TamraGentryDesignStudio.net.]

Another thing that came out of this is that I decided to resurrect Tamra Gentry Design Studio as my business identity. I already had a plan in the works for what I hoped would be a final-ish business name change, and it did not include going back to Tamra Gentry Design Studio. However, the timing of this happening was such that it felt right to change course and snatch it the hell back. I decided to reclaim old references to my work as well, hence REDUX, which means “to bring back.” Fordite is quite a niche-y thing and is not a part of my new design direction, but I do love the work that I did with it in the past and I choose to highlight it on this archive website.


Since “I’m baa-aaack,” this site will serve as a visual representation of the fun work I used to do with Fordite. I had so many old photos that it felt negligent to let them stay hidden away in some obscure cyber storage bin on my external hard drive, never seeing the light of day. In going through my photos, I was reminded of how much fun it was to work with Fordite. In the years since, I acquired several pieces I kept for myself that I’m willing to make available for new designs and/or custom orders on a limited basis. –Because, free the magpie. If I make anything out of them, I will announce it via my social media channels and on this site’s blog.


First, if you’re even thinking about using a particular business name, buy the domain. And if it is your given name or your name is incorporated into it somehow, hold on to the domain. Forever.

Second (my “I am not an IP attorney” disclaimer applies here), apply for a trademark for your business name especially if it contains your given name. It doesn’t matter what it is. Too many bad actors out there don’t care how right you try to keep your karma. Weird ish happens. A trademarked name gives you much more leverage should you ever decide to sue for infringement. I know for a fact this name theft and resulting confusion has poisoned the search for both me and my business.

The funny thing is that it crossed my mind years ago to apply for a trademark for Tamra Gentry Design Studio–long before The Googles grew and revealed that I wasn’t a unicorn after all. I made the horrible mistake of thinking, “I don’t need to trademark THAT—who else would want to use THAT? —It’s *my* name.” At the time, I was the only Tamra Gentry showing up in search results for jewelry. [Long before this situation, I hired an IP attorney to trademark a business name and logo for me, and I wish I hadn’t because it’s a name that, looking back, was kind of stupid to try to trademark even though it was ultimately awarded to me. From that experience I learned that you don’t have to register everything–just register the right thing(s).]

Third, if you are a business owner, GOOGLE YOURSELF. Do it regularly. Use all of the tools available to you to help maintain an accurate, up-to-date online presence.

So, yeah, that happened.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about me or my work, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What’s in a name, and what’s this site all about? Part One

[Image: This was my original, post-Etsy website for Tamra Gentry Design Studio circa 2009. (Peep the Internet Explorer browser!) It was designed by the lovely Cococello, and it featured both my Fordite collection and my favorite color at the time–lime green. I really loved this website.]

In 2015, long after I’d retired my old business name Tamra Gentry Design Studio, a Google search revealed that someone else had purchased my old domain name the same year—just a few short months after I let it expire. I’d chosen to let it go because, as many businesses are wont to do, I’d gone through a very productive period of growth, change, and evolution. I was on to the next thing. I didn’t need the domain anymore, so I didn’t think twice about letting it expire.

Well, skid and halt. To my surprise, not only had a cybersquatter purchased the expired domain name, they’d set up an entire website spoofing my old business and my work with Fordite. This individual even tried to mimic my writing style.

I sold my work, but it wasn’t a gangbusters operation, so the notion of “monetizing” search results off of my business name didn’t make sense. For whatever reason, this person’s actions implied a certain degree of maliciousness. [Who has the time or mental space to do this? —Aren’t there more more pressing things happening in the world to focus one’s attention on (oh, like, say, climate change, hunger, human rights, etc.) rather than sitting around expending energy (and apparently money year after year since 2015 on domain renewals) trying to mimic me and hurt my business?]

Because there’s some disinformation being perpetrated using my old domain name, Tamra Gentry Design Studio [dot COM], let’s stop for a minute and clear up some really crazy stuff:

  • NO. I do not make jewelry out of, nor am I inspired by casinos, casino chips, dried plants, rusty widgets, or railroad ties. Now, I DO make forming stakes out of railroad spikes, because, metalsmith. [Definitely not jewelry, though.]
  • NO. I do not run a production shop with a “team of professionals” or “experts.” I am an independent contemporary studio jeweler, which means that it’s just Tamra-the-Hyprecreative-ControlFreak-Hermit-INTJ-Solopreneur-Workaholic all day, every damned day. I design and make my own stuff. ALL OF IT. [Oh, and the INTJ + hermit parts are essential.]
  • “Four different offices…” Nah, not yet. Goals, tho. [Well, not goals really, because I’m not about that life. Plus, I’m an INTJ—we like to work alone, and one studio is more than enough.]
  • NO. I am not sponsored by some rando casino magnate, and,

So just, no.

You get the point by now. If it looks and sounds shady or crazy, it’s a bloody duck. The spoofed site meets those criteria.

As weird as this situation was and still is, it was the catalyst for my current jewelry work using textiles. My studies of the larger body of culturally-significant Japanese and South American micro-textiles also came as a result of all of this.

This post is continued in What’s In a Name Part Two. [End Part One.]

Go to What’s In a Name, and What’s This Site All About: Part Two

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