CANVAS: BUILDING BLOCK BLING
My childhood memories often revolve around tiny trinkets and prizes that defined my youth: a tiny ceramic dolphin from a beach trip, a plastic ring from a quarter machine, and a box full of Legos. So imagine the wave of nostalgia that hit me when I stumbled across the work of Shannon Conrad, a metalsmith who’s expansive collection of rings, necklaces and earrings incorporate some of the same childhood objects I’m so fond of. From Legos to Pacman ghosts, Shannon has given pop-culture symbols a more demure aesthetic in the form of hand-cast accessories.
Shannon’s passion for her designs grew organically from a hobby to a means to help support her family from a home studio after falling victim to downsizing at her job. The mother of two discovered metal-working at a community college class and hit the ground running.
” The first time I held the torch in my hand, I knew I had found what I wanted to do with my life,” Shannon says.
But Shannon isn’t your run-of-the-mill designer dabbling in the trade with heart shaped pendants and simple wire bending tricks. She’s developed a personal style that borrows from the familiar and transforms it into the striking and whimsical.
“I draw inspiration from everything around me. I am currently working with a group of jewelers who have committed to making a ring a day for the entire year,” she explains. “This has opened me up creatively in ways I could not have imagined. It has made me look at everything in terms of how I can use it it in my work.”
That creativity lead to Shannon’s Building Block collection, a hand-cast Lego brick set gaining a fan-base online. And everything Shannon makes is eco-friendly by principle: she remelts scrap materials herself and has switched to non-toxic chemicals wherever possible. She does not support newly mined materials. Plus every piece you buy from her store is handmade by the artist herself, ensuring it is as durable as it is original. Long live playtime.
–Johnie Emma Gall