Firefly Handmade Fall Market 2017 Artisan Profile - Finer Edge Studio

This classically trained environmental geologist and former fine jewelry teacher has set her passion ablaze by making silversmithing her full time vocation. Karen Edgerly of Finer Edge Studio brings a plethora of knowledge to her craft. Her work is a fascinating combination of brilliant gemstones mixed with her ceaseless curiosity. This artisan truly understands that fine jewelry purchases represent the powerful moments behind each piece she creates. She cherishes these interactions with her clientele, especially apparent in her bridal line. But most importantly, Karen brings a buoyancy and playful nature to each piece she creates.

Like many jewelry designers, Karen doesn't like to boast or brag about her collections. Her organic shapes and raw materials bring a sophisticated, yet casual sensibility that makes it easy to see why she doesn’t need to say much. Her work speaks for itself. Still, we had to know more about what motivates this master to construct her varied compositions. Read on!

You studied metalsmithing in San Francisco. Are you from the west coast? What motivated you to move to Colorado?

I am originally from San Francisco. I moved to Boulder to go to college at CU and took jewelry making/silversmithing classes all through college. I double majored in science (geology major) and art.

You pursued a career as an environmental geologist. Could you elaborate more on what that job entails? How does that knowledge influence your gemstone buying decisions today?

I originally pursued a job after graduate school as an environmental geologist working on Lake Champlain in Vermont. I wanted to work outside and help protect nature as a young adult. My geology background helps me today to understand rocks and gems on the macroscopic and microscopic level. And also helps me understand and explain processes used in different techniques in silversmithing.

What is your favorite gemstone right now? Why?

Natural diamonds and blue/green tourmaline are my favorite gemstones right now. The natural diamonds because they have both the sparkle of a being a diamond with a transparent rich earthy look. And blue/green tourmalines because they are the color of a clear blue volcanic lake, reminding me of my childhood camping trips to these lakes.

Could you tell us more about your design process? Do you sketch out your designs first or do you dive straight into metal? Do you carve any of your items in wax first? Do you cast your own pieces or do you strictly manipulate metal sheet/wire with your torch?

I sketch out my designs first, I have sketch books when I travel, in my studio, and with me in my pursue. I will see something that catches my eye and draw it then back in the studio revise the sketch until I take the metal and make the piece. I do some wax carving, but mostly manipulate metal. Most of my cast pieces are cast dried grasses and plants then I create jewelry from these in bronze and silver.

Your collection names are really fascinating. Can you please tell us more about Rust and Western Wedding? How did they get their names?

The rust pieces were inspired from collected rusted parts of old mining machinery. I first made a necklace with the washers and set red sapphires and gold around them. The next piece I made was a belt buckle out of a large rectangular rusted piece with a hole in it. I collect rusted pieces and mostly make belt buckles set in silver with different stones. Finding the perfect rusted piece is not so easy – they need to be really rusted to retain the look I am going for. I very much enjoy the design process for the belt buckles. I make one rusted belt buckle a year since they take awhile to make, but it also takes time to find the perfect rusted piece. Two of belt buckles and several necklaces have sold at Firefly Handmade Markets.

The Western Wedding collection name came from a wedding in Allen’s Park and the bride who was wearing cowboy boots. I designed his and her wedding rings with silver, gold, turquoise, and diamonds.The bride just loved turquoise. I then made her earrings with upside down hearts, silver, gold, turquoise, and pearls. Since, the rings had more of a casual western flare I came up with the name.

What inspires your designs?

My daily life inspires my designs. I have spent my whole life wanting to be a full-time silversmith and the floodgates opened when I moved away from teaching to being a silversmith full-time. I look around not only at nature, but also at lines in small objects, fragments of found objects and try to see what makes them interesting to the eye and try mimic that in my jewelry.

What is your favorite piece right now? Why?

My favorite piece right now is a Greek sea glass necklace. Greek sea glass can have texture on it, which is fascinating. I set the glass fragment with gold, and different faceted stones (diamonds, sapphires, tourmaline, etc.). My favorite one was set with a diamond, and a blue/green tourmaline and the chain had some kyanite stones that matched the color of the tourmaline.

How do you want your audience to feel when they interact with your art?

I want them to be excited to own a piece of my art. I want them to know the story behind the design. I love telling the story when I am at a Firefly Handmade Market.

Why are you proud to be a Firefly Handmade Market artisan?

I am proud to be a Firefly Handmade Market artisan because the people that stop by and talk and look at my jewelry always are interested in knowing more about a piece and the technique I used to make it. I am proud because it is a market that attracts a great clientele and fun people.

Finer Edge Studio joins us on Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17 at the Firefly Handmade Fall Market which is central to the Downtown Boulder Fall Fest! Be sure to stop by her booth to ogle at all the stunning jewels in person! In the meantime you can connect with her here:

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