by Kristin Arzt

Sheri Jurnecka has been experimenting with a variety of art forms since she was a kid. While “normal kids” were out playing, she would camp out at her kitchen table playing with clay or enamels. Today, Sheri is an expert corset maker, jewelry designer, and Jewelry and Enameling instructor at The Crucible. She worked her way up, starting as a student, then volunteering for nine years before joining our Faculty last year.

If you have been in our Enameling studio, you have seen the sample board that Sheri put together – a technicolor quilt of enameled copper tiles, reflecting Sheri’s colorful personality and infectious enthusiasm. We sat down with Sheri to learn more about her nine years at The Crucible and her unending passion for the possibilities of color.

How did you get involved at The Crucible?

I started taking classes here about nine years ago when I was practicing law. When my position as a lawyer got outsourced, I decided I was done practicing – 27 years was enough! After that, I had a lot less money and a lot more time, so I started volunteering here as a tool room monitor and tour guide.

What’s your favorite position you’ve had at The Crucible?  

Teaching the introductory classes. I especially enjoy teaching people when it is their very first exposure to the medium. It’s fun for me to share that with them and see how excited they get when their eyes are opened to something new.

“Fortunately as time has gone on, I have explored other techniques and  gotten more patient in my work. This cloisonné pendant had at least 20 firings. It’s a zen practice.” Sheri originally made this cloisonné piece for her sister, then liked it so much, she had to make herself one to match!

What is your favorite art form at the moment?

Enameled jewelry. You can get really, really beautiful results. The alchemy and metamorphosis of going from these dull matte powders to something that is radiant, luminous, and shiny can really bring a piece to life. I like the magic of using material that doesn’t look particularly attractive to start, then through this process you get something that is filled with life and vibrancy.

Over the years you’ve taken everything from Neon to Leather, Fire Eating to Glass Flameworking, and just about every Enameling class. What do you want to try next?

We won’t talk about my attempts to do flaming hula hoops in the fire hula hoop class, although I want to try Poi one of these days! I would like to try TIG welding. In the past I’ve dabbled in steampunk stuff, and the idea of putting mixed metals together to make something a little more sturdy than toxic adhesives is appealing.

What do you see as the community at The Crucible?

The people here are hugely creative, supportive, and innovative. There is a true sense of comradery and support, and clearly a strong dedication to the mission, which is why I have stayed involved all this time. (quote for poster)

It’s incredible that we are exposing kids and teenagers to art since they don’t have the opportunity to do this in school anymore. I was lucky that I grew up doing art because my mom was an art teacher. I love seeing kids come in and get sparked like I did when I was a kid.

Do you have a single word to describe The Crucible?

It’s. . .  flammable! Inspiring . . . and flammable.

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