Follows Traditional Path to Become Master DesignerJewelry making is an age-old, traditional art, so it was only fitting that G. Thrapp's master jewelry designer, Ellen Bower turned to the age-old, traditional "apprenticeship" process for learning the skills she needed to perfect her craft. Ellen began studying sculpture at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis.
However, it wasn't long before she
also took a part time job working for a local jeweler, where she
quickly discovered that designing and building jewelry would become her
One reason she
loved working with jewelry was her
meticulous attention to detail."At school, I was working on large paintings and sculptures that would take an eternity to complete with the amount of detail I like to put into my work," Ellen
says.Working on small-scale jewelry, she
could maintain her
perfectionism and still complete projects in a reasonable amount of time.
After Herron Ellen began her
apprenticeship with a mentor who helped her
learn the fundamentals of the trade - casting, wax carving and light fabrication.
completed 7 years in a traditional apprenticeship she
knew it was time to move on to the next step along the traditional craftsman path-the "journeyman" stage.She
fabricating skills and developed more old-world techniques by learning each step of the jewelry manufacturing process at a local manufacturer.Her
hard work paid off, because she
ability to perfect details and overall quality.She
was soon designing exclusive pieces as well as developing master models for the jewelry lines that the company was producing.
Ellen's dream of managing a design studio became a reality in 1993.Ellen
teamed up with Gary Thrapp to help expand his custom jewelry business.
"I have the opportunity to hold them, analyze how they were built and restore them when needed," Ellen
says."I've learned so much about the history & art of traditional jewelry making by being able to work with these pieces."
It's like getting the chance to work with the masters of the past."Those artists help me understand how to incorporate quality into the entire jewelry making process," Ellen
says."And I truly feel successful when our clients share this passion and can feel and see the quality in the pieces we create."
craft's connection with the past, she
has also willingly pushed design and building of jewelry into the future.For example, while jewelers in the Victorian Age never had access to a laser welder, G. Thrapp
Jewelers was the first in the city to invest in this and other technology to ensure that it has one of the most advanced, state-of-the art studios in the Midwest.As the vice president at G. Thrapp and manager of a team of six designers, Ellen has reached her professional goal-a path that has taken her from apprentice to journeyman to master craftsman.
If fact, she
is now helping to spread her
passion to another generation of artists by organizing G. Thrapp
's studio so that each custom piece is designed and built by one craftsman.That's a different approach than many shops which have specialists that focus on one aspect of every piece-building jewelry on what is basically an assembly line."A wedding ring is not a Ford pickup truck," Ellen