As Jane Lamanna settled into her chair, she adjusted her ivory crescent necklace, just one of many pieces she’s fashioned throughout her career.The jeweler constructs a variety of colorful pieces, but her favorite ones to create are earrings.
“I do make a lot of earrings; I like to wear them,” she said, gesturing to a dangly pair on her own ears. “For me, it’s fun to make two of the same — pairs are always fun to make.
“I don’t make tons of bracelets probably because I don’t like to wear them,” she added with a laugh.
Inspired by midcentury modernist jewelers, much of Lamanna’s work features clean lines and shapes that relate well to the body.
“When I’m thinking of how to make my jewelry, I like it to be clean and comfortable to wear and colorful — that’s the other thing that really inspires me,” she said. “Some of my newer pieces that feature color resin are more fun for me because I’m mixing the color myself to get just the right one.”
But long before color mixing, Lamanna starts with a sketch where she formulates her idea and scales it to a size that she would want to wear. From there, she cuts sheet metal with a tiny saw blade and forms it to create the style she wants.
“There’s soldering, sawing, filing, sanding; lots and lots of cleanup so it looks snappy,” she said.
Working with the metal is her favorite part of jewelry making, but mixing the colors to create resin is a close second. It takes her two days to tinker with the colors — blending and mixing the different hues to get just the right shade.
Sometimes while mixing, Lamanna creates a color she never intended to that works for the piece: “It’s a great surprise when that happens.”
She sells her jewelry at many art fairs and venues, including Art on the Mall, where she will be one of more than 100 exhibitors Sunday, July 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on UT’s Centennial Mall. Her work also is featured at the Toledo Museum of Art’s gift shop.
A number of her wearable works will be featured at the free, juried event.
“I’m still in the process of creating pieces for [Art on the Mall],” she said. “There’s going to be tons of earrings and some new styles of necklaces and everything. There should be new colors and styles of resin. All sorts of new things — clean and colorful.”
For Lamanna, jewelry making is a family affair that started with her grandfather in the 1940s and 1950s. He owned a jewelry shop in Manhattan, where Lamanna’s grandmother and aunts helped string pearls, she recalled. Since then, there have been many family members who owned shops or created their own pieces.
While Lamanna never got the chance to work with her grandfather because he passed away while she was very young, she feels he lives through her today. Many of his tools were passed down to her, and she uses them for her own work.
“It’s funny, I have an old design book — kind of like a reference book — of his. A couple years ago I was flipping through that and found that he had made little sketches and notes. I felt like he was talking to me through that,” she said.
When she’s not creating or selling pieces of jewelry, Lamanna can be found teaching others how to make it at the Toledo Museum of Art. She teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced fabrication classes, which guides students through the process of cutting sheet metal and wire to building something — a job she finds highly rewarding.
“I just really, really love teaching.”
Ever since taking classes in college, Lamanna said she has known jewelry making is where she belongs.