Suncatcher forming rainbows from Columbus’ Sun Bent Studio (photo courtesy of Nicole Derifield West)
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Sun Bent Studio Creates Rainbows for Your Home

Columbus-based artist Nicole Derifield-West harnesses the power of light and spreads joy with her delicate crystal and metal and creations.

Columbus-based artist Nicole Derifield-West has dabbled in various artistic mediums throughout her life, from drawing and painting in high school to jewelry making in her late twenties. She eventually settled into metalsmithing to make suncatchers, which she now does professionally under the name Sun Bent Studio.

Derifield-West says her attraction to suncatchers comes from memories of window crystals at her grandmother’s home. She was mesmerized by the movement of the rainbows as they danced across the walls. Soon after, she sought a supplier for plain brass rods that she could use to make her own.

“It’s really cathartic to take something that’s straight and seems pretty rigid and move it into something new and different and one-of-a-kind,” she says.

Derifield-West acts instinctively when creating each design. She pays attention to what the highest point will be, where she needs to put the next bend or add another curve, how the crystals will balance and what type of crystals she needs to get a specific visual effect.

The resulting rainbows in the finished product are determined by the number of facets, or flat sides, each crystal has. For example, disco ball-shaped crystals create many small rainbows, while long, skinny pieces — also known as “wizard hats” — create fewer but larger rainbow projections.

“I try to combine the shapes, so you get a little bit of twinkly, baby rainbows, and you get some big, ooey-gooey rainbows,” Derifield-West says. “No matter what the sun is doing or where it’s hanging, you kind of get a little bit of everything.”

She has recently started experimenting with using sheets of brass in place of rods. This involves finishing with a patina, a chemical process used on various metals to create a range of hues. The result is more color appearing on an already vibrant piece.

“I stop in my tracks for rainbows,” Derifield-West says. “They’re just special and they’re magical and they’re fleeting. … They’re gone until they’re back again. I just think that’s kind of lovely.” 

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