Tamra Gentry Design Studio

Tamra Gentry Design Studio

About The Artist

Tamra M. Gentry • Elgin, IL

Tamra Gentry is a contemporary studio jeweler best known for pairing simple lines and shapes with colorful, attention-grabbing materials in her jewelry. Whether using Fordite, natural minerals and gemstones, or fine silk thread, Tamra is driven by a need to balance her right-brained color-inspired hyper-creativity against a strong inclination toward left-brained order and structure. Her current work combines handcrafted silk micro-textiles with the understated metal forms she makes to compliment them.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I use a variety of traditional jewelry fabrication techniques for the metal components of my work. I hand-braid all my textiles using the ancient Japanese braiding method, kumihimo. These fascinating micro-textiles begin as spools or skeins of hand-dyed silk thread from Japan. Some of the silks are as fine as a strand of human hair. I warp the threads, then section, tension, and braid them. The warps range in thickness from five silk strands per individually weighted bobbin to two hundred strands per bobbin. The number of bobbins can vary from eight for tiny ties to thirty-two and beyond for thicker, larger, more complex textiles.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

What is something unique about you or your practice?

Sometimes when I’m trying to figure out a design idea or problem-solve my way through a fabrication issue, I’ll drop what I’m doing in the studio and go work outside in the yard. Pulling weeds, planting or trimming trees, doing general landscape work, or just feeding and watching my birds puts me in a zone where one of two things happens, depending on what my head dictates. The hands-on yardwork lets me clear my head and think about absolutely nothing--or it helps spin up my brain into idea mode. I always carry a digital voice recorder (and sometimes a small notepad) to capture my ideas and sketches on the fly.