Creative Hope Jewelry Project Challenge

Sep 1, 2020 | Guest Blog

Hope by Holly Gage

It’s a beautiful thing when an International jewelry community bands together for an exhibit presenting profound images and messages of HOPE. The Creative Hope Jewelry Project Challenge and Virtual Exhibit was designed to be an uplifting expression of hope during a time of unrest due to coronavirus pandemic concerns, stay-at-home orders, and social injustice distancing. It is serving as a source of inspiration for the creators and viewers alike by allowing them to experience a positive perspective amidst the news of viral spread, frightening consequences, and even death.

It was my brain child and I was the volunteer project coordinator, and I felt if an activity such as watching the news could send you spiraling downward with anxiety, then maybe artists working on their pieces and viewers enjoying the exhibit could create the opposite: a sense of calm and feeling of hope.

Jewelry in the Time of Coronavirus

There is a historical perspective in the things we create, as I learned from my mother, an antique dealer. Jewelry has always expressed the activities, social movements, and events of the time. If you take a deeper look, you will notice there are underlying statements, cues, and messages telling us about what was happening during each period in history, such as mourning jewelry after the death of Prince Albert in the 1860’s or the resurgence of the peace symbol in 1960s during the Vietnam War.

The Creative Hope Jewelry Project Challenge asked artists to express their feelings, thoughts, and hopes during a time of sacrifice and challenge all around us.

Sara Collins

One artist depicted finding positive ways of adapting to the new normal of working from home, several depicted the warring emotions and pain we are feeling, and three artists chose a phoenix theme to show that we will all rise from the ashes of our old normal to become stronger in our new world.

Loretta Hackman

Artist Loretta Hackman submitted a piece entitled Eagles and Archangels, a two-sided pendant depicting hope and protection. The eagle protects the space between the earth and heaven. The archangel protects both those on earth and in heaven against encroaching evils and injustice.

In artist Valerie Tremelat’s piece entitled Thinking About Rings Differently Nos. 1, 2 & 3, the rings represent her thoughts and creations going into new and unexpected directions, expressing how life now feels surreal and turned inside out. Things we always knew to be unfair are being exposed and laid bare. She finds hope in each of us thinking about things differently and working to change our society to be more fair, just, and humane.

I made a piece named Hope representing the Coronavirus on one side of the pendant wreaking havoc, yet breaking though is a flower, the start of renewal. On the other side is the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, valley where I live that is quite beautiful but often hazy from pollution. It represents life regenerated, thriving as the Coronavirus is making us stop and slow down giving the world and nature a chance to renew and thrive.

Paying It Forward

Neena Shilvock

Perhaps the most humbling part of the project was that several artists chose to gift their handmade art pieces in a heartfelt gesture to someone on front line of the pandemic, such as a nurse, a first responder, a grocery clerk, or just someone who inspired them.

Nancy Heise says, “My greatest joy is giving! It is going to someone who is right in the middle of the epicenter and battling cancer!”

Toby Krell said, “I will offer my piece to our Provincial (Canadian) Minister of Health who has done a wonderful job of directing and reporting to the public.”

I gifted mine to a friend who just lost her aging mom due to Covid-19. It is such a small token, but I hope it lets her know she is supported and not alone.

About the Challenge

Nancy Heise

All levels of jewelry makers were invited to participate: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Prizes were donated by manufacturers, instructors, and other artists just to make it more fun. Classes, tools, supplies, stones (everything that makes an artist salivate) were given to 1st and 2nd place winners in each category including honorable mention.

Visit the Creative Hope Jewelry Project Challenge photo gallery to see the entries, the winner, and a series of videos created by volunteer jewelry artist and voice over artist Amy Johns. View all the entries and hear the inspiring and uplifting video presentations on Youtube.

Holly in her studio

Holly Gage is a contemporary metal clay jewelry artist, instructor, author and speaker. Her work (and articles) have appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, Belle Armoire, Bead Unique, Beadwork, Art Jewelry, Metal Clay Jewelry Artist, Metal Clay Today, and more. Find her online at, on Facebook at @Holly Ginsberg Gage, and on Instagram at #gagedesigns.