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Wearable Art: Sculptural Silver Jewelry Made In Elizabeth City

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Donna Sneed is fired up. The designer creates beautiful silver jewelry that depends on what she calls “the magic of fire” — which is found in her humble home kiln in the public power community of Elizabeth City. Her pendants feature intricate designs, from mermaids and seahorses to monograms and Art Deco graphics; her earrings are dangling pieces of wearable sculpture.

Sneed is the one-woman-show behind Silabar Fine Silver. In her home studio, she works with metal clay, a medium that looks and feels much like standard modeling clay. This pliable, soft material allows Sneed to sculpt artful, delicately detailed designs. What makes metal clay different from the modeling kind is that it’s actually made of tiny particles of silver (along with water and an organic binder), so that when it hits the heat of a kiln, it transforms. Out comes a gleaming, one-of-a-kind piece of handmade jewelry. “It looks like something that comes off the shelf of a fine jeweler,” Sneed says. “It’s just beautiful.”

Sneed also teaches metal clay classes at local art centers, eager to share her love of creating. Whether it’s a new bracelet or a new hobby, there’s a silver lining to knowing Donna Sneed. Learn more about her process at www.ourstate.com/meet-the-maker-silabar-fine-silver/.

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