Allegro Arts

Gary of Allegro Arts creates a wide range of jewelry, bracelets, necklaces and earrings, specializing in silver origami. He folds silver clay into complex origami patterns to make animals, flowers, and anything else that strikes his fancy. After firing in a kiln, his creations become pure silver.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Gary.
I know its odd for guys to make jewelry. I kind of stumbled into it.
I was a classically trained musician, and played professionally for a while. As part of this, I took some courses on musical instrument repair, and did that as a side job. A lot of the tools and techniques are the same as jewelry repair - working with silver and brass, plating, soldering, brazing. One day a friend asked me to fix their watch, so I gave it a try. Word got out, and soon I was repairing bracelets and necklaces. So I figured there might be something to the jewelry business.
I found metal clay about a year ago, after reading a magazine article on it. I bought a cheap kiln with my tax return money and gave it a try, and LOVED it.
Origami is another hobby I've had for a long time, and it seemed a natural fit to match that up with the metal clay. I've been trying to push the boundaries of what can be done with metal clay and origami, beyond the classic paper cranes that everyone knows. Origami is incredibly versatile, you can make nearly anything you can think of by folding paper correctly. The challenge is to adapt that to the silver clay, which is less forgiving than paper.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Besides make stuff?
Running is way up there, so is biking, so is making beer. Tough choice.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your shop?
Just finding the time to make stuff!
I work full time, have a family, run a girl scout troop, and my daughter always has some school activity going on. I get a couple hours every Saturday and Sunday morning to make jewelry before everyone else wakes up. So during the week, I'll try to make a list of what items I want to make, or photograph and list.
I may not be able to make and list as much as I'd like, but I never intended for this to be a full time job. As long as I'm having fun and making enough money to keep going, I'll be here.

What item in your shop would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
That's kind of tricky, because I don't wear jewelry.
Probably the dragonfly ring, I might actually wear that.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a classical musician. I started playing bassoon when I was 9, and loved it. I followed that as far as it would take me, and played with the US Army Band for 13 years. Got to travel the world and play music, and had a great time. Now that's over and I've settled down to a more "normal" office job, but I'm glad I can say I followed and lived my dream for a while.

What other shops out there do you love?

What does your future hold?
I wish I knew!
I tend to find new hobbies and mediums all the time. Right now, I'm trying out the new bronze clay to see where that takes me. But a year from now, I might be trying out glass or ceramics or anything else that catches my attention. I try not to plan too far ahead, and just go where the ideas take me.

Visit Allegro Arts on Etsy to see more of this innovative work or visit Gary on his blog