Bonnie Blandford, Jeweler

Bonnie Blandford, Jeweler in Grand Rapids, Michigan, designs and fabricates jewelry using a mixture of sterling silver and high karat gold to contrast light and dark, textures and smooth, movement and stillness. The results are elegant, understated pieces designed for contemporary women.

Bonnie Blandford

As a child I loved poking through the rock shop near my house. All those bins of interesting rocks fed my love of stones and my collection grew large. In high school I developed a love of both handmade and Scandinavian jewelry and started another collection. Then I bought a length of sterling wire from the rock shop, twisted it and that bracelet stayed on my wrist for years. Who knew that was all leading me to what I was meant to do with my life…

After high school graduation, I went to college to be a dental assistant. The lab classes where I carved wax teeth and made crowns for teeth were my favorite. Out of college and working in the dental profession, I had a great idea for a ring but couldn’t find anyone to make it for me.  I decided to use the lost wax casting method and try making it myself.

I found a community education class where I could use their casting equipment and a new love was born. I owe a lot to the instructor of that class, a high school pottery and jewelry teacher named Marty Hale. He encouraged me to take the early jewelry I made into a local gallery and in 1976, a new career was born. I continued to work both in the dental profession and jewelry creation until 1987 when I decided to put all my effort into my jewelry and signed up for a class with Harold O’Connor in Taos, New Mexico.

Harold taught me to fuse 24k gold (pure gold) to sterling silver using a mouth-held blowtorch.  This enabled me to move from the lost wax casting method to becoming a metalsmith with a whole new world of possibilities at my fingertips.  Since that time I’ve continued to fabricate my jewelry, currently using 22k or 18k gold fused to sterling. I’ve taken classes and workshops around the country from amazing people which have continued to add to my end result. My work continues to change and grow. Right now with the world seemingly so chaotic, I’m finding the need for calmer, simpler designs. Not as fussy. Quieter, more peaceful. I think I’ve accomplished that…