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5 Questions with Pam "PJ" Leitner

Modern take on the Bracelet of Submission by PJ Leitner
Pam PJ Leitner
Pam "PJ" Leitner of Los Angeles, CA, was the one of two winners of the READER'S CHOICE AWARD for our May Design Challenge theme of HEROES & VILLAINS. It was our first tie! PJ sent us this MODERN TAKE ON THE BRACELET OF SUBMISSION. 

This textured copper cuff with a bezel-set fossil of coral will give the wearer superpowers of strength and love.

Pam identifies herself as a "jewelry artist, lapidary enthusiast, rock hound, student,  and teacher."  When not working with rocks and making jewelry, she is treating patients in her orthopedic physical therapy practice near Venice Beach, California. Pam took some time out to answer a few of our questions.
Pam PJ Leitner workspace
I set up a little makeshift studio on the balcony of my condo.  It has everything I need except a polishing wheel, so I use a dremel with polishing attachments.  If I need to polish a larger piece, I go to the club shop.
Pam PJ Leitner broomstick casting
Pendant made using broomstick casting.
ARE YOU A PROFESSIONAL JEWELRY-MAKER, OR IS THIS A HOBBY? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CREATING?

I am a hobbyist, but I do sell my pieces.  I first learned to make silver jewelry in a high school art class in 1975.  I graduated college with my degree in Physical Therapy, but I still loved going to craft fairs and gem shows.  I attended a local gem and mineral club show about 10 years ago,  I learned that if I became a club member I would have access to their lapidary and jewelry shop.  My passion was reignited and there I found many likeminded friends who shared my enthusiasm for rocks and jewelry making.  

HOW DID YOU LEARN JEWELRY-MAKING?

As I mentioned, I first learned to make jewelry in high school.  We learned basic soldering and bezel setting techniques for rings, pendants and bracelets.  I was pretty good at it, so my dad set up a little space on his work bench complete with basic tools for me to create and do my jewelry making at home.  I got a weekend job in a local rock store in 1976 where I was a sales person and learned basic lapidary skills like slabbing and cabbing.  I mostly gave my pieces away as gifts for family and friends, but I did sell many pieces back then.  I went off to college and my hobby took a 30-year hiatus.
Pam PJ Leitner ebony and fossil mammoth tusk
Ebony and fossil mammoth tusk bracelet.
Pam Leitner gloves
Pam's gloves
Pam PJ Leitner rough diamond
Rough diamond ring

For the past 10 years I have rekindled my love of jewelry making through my local gem and mineral club.  I have taken some classes through the club and from a local adult education school to learn new techniques and expand my designs.  In addition, I have set up a make shift studio in my home using YouTube videos and online tutorials and subscribing to jewelry making magazines to further my knowledge base and gain inspiration. 

WHAT’S THE GOOFIEST/MOST EMBARRASSING MISTAKE THAT YOU EVER MADE? 

I bought a pair of leather gloves thinking I could pick up a hot piece of silver and burned a hole through the fingertip right through to my skin.. Ouch, yeah it hurt!

WHAT STYLE OF JEWELRY DO YOU MAKE? HAVE YOU EVER WORKED IN DIFFERENT STYLES/MEDIUMS?
I mostly fabricate from sheet, tubes and wires. I also like direct pouring methods like broomstick casting and Delft clay casting.  I like organic textures, with lots of depth and abstraction to accent the stones I am setting. I tend to work with silver sheet, rolling mills, hammers and stamps, tubes, hinges, various gauges and shapes of wires. I am currently working on a hollow-link knuckle-hinge bracelet with a dino-bone fossil focal point which is quite ambitious for me.

WHERE CAN PEOPLE SEE MORE OF YOUR WORK?

Find PJ on Instagram at @rockrage_lapidary or on her www.rockragelapidary.com.
FIND MORE: metal , bracelets , stone , stone setting

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