Because Mall is a Four Letter Word

The Handmade Market Spotlight: Shade Metals


 Sara Borey & Cesar Sertzen from Shade Metals

Shade Metals
new artist
raffle donor

Describe your style, influences, inspiration, and what you plan to bring:

We take all our inspiration from the genius of plants, and try to recreate their natural shapes, twists, patterns, and their perfect imperfections. Sometimes we mold our jewelry directly from succulents, branches and other organic material. While other pieces we sculpt or 3D print to imitate the plants.

We are as botanically accurate as possible- each piece mimics a specific species and we have over 50 in our collection. Our most popular piece is probably the Field of Clover Ring, which features a single four-leaf clover surrounded by a mosaic of three-leaved beauties. Another favorite is the Magic Dogwood pendants that are sculpted to look like a species of dogwood that’s native to Mexico. We have several succulent castings of sedums and crassula that are also gaining attention.

How did you learn your craft?:

Five years ago I was looking to buy leaf earrings and could only find generic oblong leaf shapes. I am a tree steward for the city of Richmond, and my partner Cesar is a big outdoor enthusiast. We were both surprised at this lack of botanically accurate jewelry, so we started taking metal smithing classes at our local visual arts center. After several classes and a few pieces we were proud of we invested in our own equipment and began experimenting in our garage. We mainly learn through trail and error and youtube videos, but we have also continued to take classes to improve our skills.

Which artist at The Handmade Market are you excited to see/meet?:

We have seen Topaz from Bicycle Trash at a few events, and we are always impressed with how she upcycles old bike parts. Both of us are active cyclists, so her work is even more meaningful.

What is your favorite way to put yourself in the mood for creativity?:

We are big believers in work, we work nearly everyday, and sometimes the creativity flows naturally and sometimes it doesn’t, but for us it’s through action that the ideas come. Even when we’re tired or not in the mood we try to work, and if the inspiration really isn’t there we tend to go outside for a hike or a bike ride to clear our minds. Then it’s back to work!

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out and/or what is the best advice you have received for your art & business?:

I was very shy about showing our work public when we first began. Cesar is the brazen type who has no fear or shame in front of an audience. While I was uncomfortable at first, I will say that we learned a great deal by exhibiting our work. Often times we encounter artists who feel that their work isn’t good enough to sell. While I understand the feeling, I now agree with Cesar that exhibiting your work really pushes you to improve your craft. Having strangers view your work allows you to see what is resonating and what isn’t. 

We all have those people that love you tell us what we “should” make. What’s the worst “best tip” you’ve ever gotten?:

We are casters, so we melt and pour the silver or gold into our sculptural molds. Many people who like our work tell us we should fabricate our pieces in aluminum or steel and then plate them in silver and gold. It’s true that this might lower our costs, but it would also take away from the simplicity and purity of our style.

If you have sold or attended before, what’s your favorite Handmade Market memory or purchase?:

This will be our first time at the Handmade Market, and our first show in North Carolina!

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For the full artist gallery, and all the details you’ll ever need about The Handmade Market, go here! See you November 10th!

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