When I first met Walnut Hills resident Dawn Grady of Junebug Jewelry Designs, she pulled off a hell of a show-and-tell. We sat down for a chat at the CAC, and one-by-one, she started pulling out funky pieces of jewelry: a beaded necklace with a large pendant of multicolored wrapped wire, a pair of dangling hoop earrings with twisting silver details, a cuff made of turquoise stones nestled in intricately twisted copper wire that would easily fit in on Game of Thrones. As we talked, I learned about her craft. She broke down the wire-wrapping technique. She explained the complex process of creating different finishes and experimenting with unexpected elements (mustard, anyone?) to get different colors and textures. She told me about jewelry-making conferences and workshops. She was so passionate about creating unique accessories, I knew I had to find out more.


You have a wonderfully distinct aesthetic. How did you get from beginning jewelry maker to where you are now?

About nine years ago, I took a two-hour bead stringing class through the University of Cincinnati’s Communiversity program. I created a simple, one-strand silver necklace with matching earrings. My classmates really loved my work and, and so did I. I was hooked. I went straight to local craft and beading stores to gather my initial tools and supplies.

I would bead while watching television. It was my favorite way to unwind after work. I created several nice pieces that I either kept or gave away as gifts. After a while, I wanted to learn more skills. I started absorbing online tutorials, and made a few trips to Philadelphia to BeadFest to take classes from master jewelry artists.

I eventually found my passion manipulating metals, weaving wire and adding color with homemade patinas. Copper and Argentium sterling silver are my metals of choice for creating timeless, boho-chic designs.

What was the inspiration for Junebug Jewelry Designs?

The name Junebug was given to me by my father when I was younger, and I was most creative back then when I heard that name all the time. So, when I decided to start my jewelry line, I couldn’t think of a better brand to really symbolize the emotion I feel when I complete a design.

As a kid, I wasn’t very good at drawing, but I liked to create my own art by doodling and coloring the design with a brilliant palette. My jewelry has that same feel of chaos coming together to create beauty. I think that’s why I’m attracted to intricate designs like wire weaving and random designs created by hammering copper.

My jewelry doesn’t begin with a sketch. The pieces just come together and evolve until I’m comfortable calling them Junebug designs.

A lot of what you do involves complicated-sounding chemistry and a lot of patience! What are your favorite techniques for creating different finishes?

Recently, I launched the Fiyah Collection, a copper jewelry collection finished with the flame of a torch. You can literally capture the brilliance of fire on copper, and I’m obsessed with the technique. I’ve also started using a mustard-based patina that delivers gorgeous blue and bronze colors that are just amazing. And, yes, I mean regular mustard you would use on a hot dog or hamburger. I’m always on the lookout for a great finishing technique.

For my silver designs, their natural color is the star. I generally just polish those pieces until they’re beaming. I only use Argentium sterling silver, which is incredibly tarnish resistant, or fine silver, which never tarnishes.

Are there any future projects or events we should look out for?

Junebug Jewelry Designs will host a Fall Preview Sale on Sunday, August 28, 2016 at Six Acres Bed & Breakfast in Northside. I’ll have lots of pieces from my Fiyah Collection, as well as other hammered copper and silver designs. I’ll also have some gemstone beaded bracelets, including my “Who Dey” bling ball bracelets for my fellow Bengals fans.

I’m also preparing for the “Summerfair Turns 50” Street Festival on September 10, 2016, on the streets of Mt. Adams. On September 24, 2016, I will be in Milford for the 11th Annual Art Affaire.

Where can people find you online and in real life?

Junebug Jewelry Designs is always open online at junebugjewelrydesigns.com. I also have a small collection available downtown at the Contemporary Arts Center in the gift shop. Follow me on Faceboook to see the latest designs and to find out about upcoming events.