By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
The pieces in Dee Dee’s Jewelry Box truly start as a blank slate.
Debora Degraw-Hernandez of Plantersville embosses and shapes pieces of copper, silver nickel, bronze and even aluminum before she ever starts to assemble her mixed jewelry.
“It’s a whole extra level of control,” Hernandez said.
Textured circles, squares and rectangles become the building blocks for mixed metal pendants and earrings. Long wide stripes of copper become cuffs – which are quite in vogue this fall.
“The only thing I can make, but I don’t, is the jump rings,” Hernandez said.
She doesn’t stop at textured metal. Wire is wrapped into rings or settings for beads and stone necklaces. She shapes metal into geometric pieces for bracelets.
The medical transcriptionist has always been a crafty person. She was 8 or 9 when she made her first piece of jewelry – a pin for her grandmother. As an adult, she explored painting, ceramics and macramé
“I think I’ve done every craft out there,” Hernandez said.
She picked up jewelry again as a way about two or three years ago as her late brother, Roy Sandefer of Oxford, was fighting cancer.
“I would watch TV, but I’d still think about it; I would read a book, but I would still think about it,” Hernandez remembered. “When I made jewelry, I had to concentrate.”
She started with beads, but started exploring metals when she took a local class. That led her to a more advanced workshop in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
“Metal is definitely what I like,” Hernandez said.
At first, coworkers kept her hopping with requests for pieces. Then former Gumtree Museum of Art director Tina Lutz spotted a geometric bracelet that Hernandez was wearing at an art association meeting and encouraged her to apply for a slot at the Gumtree festival, which is a juried art show.
Since May 2010, Hernandez has done about a dozen other shows. Her next stop is Merry Market in Oxford on Oct. 28-29.
“I love doing the art shows,” Hernandez said.
Her husband, Joel, has helped her by building a display with tiny magnets built in to hold the racks steady. He also helps her with cutting the bigger pieces of metal. But he leaves the jewelry making to her.
“I’ve tried to get him to help,” she said with a teasing smile.
Hernandez’ pieces also have been flying out of Devilish Mary boutique in Tupelo.
“Her earrings, bracelets and necklaces are like nothing you would see any where else,” said Robinson, noting that they are very reasonably priced. “She is my top seller as far as jewelry in my store; we sell at least 10 pieces every day here.”
Eventually, Hernandez would like to be a full time jewelry maker, but for now she’s content with splitting her time between the medical world and the jewelry world. She tries to limit her jewelry time to a couple of hours each night, but it usually ends up being three or four.
Her work which started out at the kitchen table, is now close to overflowing the previously unused living room she took over.
“I’m just about ready for a building,” she laughed. “I can’t move anything else in here.”
Where you can find it
• Devilish Mary boutique in downtown Tupelo
• Regional art and craft fairs. Next stop: Oxford’s Merry Market, Oct. 26-28