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This Side of Classic, Aurora

Jewelry designer Terri Hickey takes a contemporary approach to a time-honored process.

Terri Hickey still treasures the silver charm bracelet her mother gave her as a gift 48 years ago.

“Jewelry keeps special memories close by all the time,” she explains. “So I am always heavily adorned.”

That sentiment is one the Aurora-based artist seeks to instill in the silver-and-enamel pendants, earrings and bracelets she’s made since launching her business, This Side of Classic, in 2011.

Hickey, who earned her bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising and design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, worked as a design coordinator for the Spiegel catalog and a buyer for fashion retailer 5-7-9 before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

In 2008, a class in fine silver metal clay offered by the Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls caught her eye. Metal clay is made from powdered metal, an organic binder and water, which hardens when heated.

Hickey signed up, and by the time the first lesson ended, she was hooked.

“Sintered metal is very integrative,” the artist says. “I enjoy working with it because I can incorporate my drawings into my designs. I also love the idea of combining the modern medium of metal clay with the very traditional medium of glass enamel. Like a watercolorist feels about paint, glass fascinates me.”

Hickey rolls, forms and molds the metal clay into a pattern of her own creation and fires the silver in a kiln. After it is finished, she completes the piece by applying layer upon layer of translucent enamel and firing it multiple times until the desired hue is achieved. She draws inspiration from nature and her family.

“I’m a horrible gardener,” she says. “But I love flowers. So I enjoy the challenge of taking such a traditional subject and giving it a little bit of a contemporary look.” 

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