kelly jean conroy

kelly jean conroy

About The Artist

Kelly Jean Conroy • Holliston, MA

I see my art jewelry as layered paintings- collages with dimensional elements that allude to a story. The stories are about loss, something that touches us all eventually, but also about the beauty of life. If I can make death and the subsequent feeling of loss something beautiful, I can soothe my fear of future loss. We all carry these experiences of life and loss within the inner layers of our being, and I see my necklaces as a way to wear these moments on one’s outer layer. In my wearable work - I have been searching for ways to bring out the storylines of how I used to paint. Imagery- color- layers- are all constant pursuits of mine. I combine gemstones and mother of pearl with the laser, etching either actual flower silhouettes from my walks outside in nature or imagery from vintage botanical illustrations. All symbolic of the cyclical nature of life and death, beauty, growth and the connections we hold dear and precious to us.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I begin my process with a drawing from my sketchbook, or a photograph that I've taken, or perhaps a vintage botanical illustration. I then digitize and collage the images and print them with a laser cutter in my studio. Often creating my own unique gemstones with my chosen symbolism etched within the surface. I use actual gemstones, recon gemstone (which utilizes and recycles the waste from the industry) mother of pearl, and other natural materials. Then I create a unique setting, often with oxidized sterling silver and perhaps with hints of 18k yellow gold.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

My "day job" is teaching high school metalsmithing at a public high school outside of Boston, so my entire day is spent in the metals studio, sharing the love I have for this particular craft. Especially as a young person, I thought that being an artist was someone who could draw and paint realistically, and often my students begin my course thinking in that way too. I am so passionate about sharing the craft of making with ones hands, and the skills to learn how to make jewelry. My students are so lucky to have this course in high school, and I am so lucky to teach them, as I am always continually learning from them. I spend my evenings in my own studio creating work, and finding new ways to express my thoughts and love for nature and the medium of jewelry. Currently my own production and studio work has been with gemstones and pearl, but I really have a love for working with enamel as well, and often its a course I teach to adults in the area as well.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

Discovering the laser cutter during a summer session at Haystack in the summer of 2015 has been a transformative pivot in my making practice. As someone who loves imagery, I've always been looking for ways to combine my drawings into my designs... either through etching, or decals, or painting on the metal, and the laser crisp execution really satisfies the itch. I feel that some folks are hesitant to allow technology seep into the world of craft, but I think there are wonderful ways to incorporate it, and find new and exciting ways to make work that hasn't been done before.