Sea and Sky Challenge Winner – Non Jewelry

Oct 30, 2019 | Challenges, News

Brett Apthorp
Winner, Non-Jewelry Category

Brett Apthorp says always been inspired by the sea.  “I live on the small island of Nantucket, 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, so the ocean has a big impact on my everyday life,” explains Brett. “This challenge fits right in with who I am aesthetically, and gave me the opportunity to make something non-jewelry, which I have not tried before.”

Brett Apthorp Artist, dancing anemone candle holder

Dancing Anemone – candle holder

“I came across a photo of a beautiful and graceful sea anemone and started to create a file of anemone images, as I knew they had become my muse.  I love candles, and a tealight holder seemed to fit the images floating in my head, but I didn’t realize when I was designing this piece how amazingly difficult it was going to be to make.

“The Dancing Sea Anemone is made of fine silver, with some of the legs accented with 22 kt gold. It was mostly created upside down, and yet had to be flipped right side up to check the balance.  That couldn’t be done until each leg was individually applied and dried (by hand with a hairdryer).  I was constantly reinforcing the legs so that they didn’t break off in the process!”

Brett has been working in metal clay for four years.  “My sister told me what metal clay is, and when my youngest went off to college, I thought I’d give it a try.  I don’t live very close to anyone who works in metal clay so most of what I have learned has been through the online community, and I try to take classes from master artists when I am able to;  everyone has been so helpful in my learning process.”

“I feel the magic in metal clay.  The transformation from powder to clay to metal never ceases to amaze me; it truly excites me and in turn creates interest in others when I explain the process to customers. It’s allowed me to express myself artistically more than I ever could before.  I like to make my own molds and textures;  whenever I travel, I have my mold kit with me at the ready.”

Brett Apthorp Artist, dancing anemone candle holder

Dancing Anemone – candle holder upside down

“I don’t make a conscious effort to decide what to make next. It has to float to me all on its own. What I find helps are walks in nature & being conscious of twilight dreams.

Brett works primarily in fine silver, which she prefers to other silver clays.  She also makes jewelry in copper and bronze, but mostly as an accent to silver as she likes the look of mixed metals.  “I’ve experimented with resin, dichroic extract, alcohol inks and other mediums but now try to rein myself in and perfect my silver work. As I learn more, I am beginning to understand the benefits of discipline and resist the urge (as best I can) to indulge my fancies in trying other things.”

Her favorite piece? “The best piece I ever made was the first one because it started this wonderful journey,” says Brett, “and the project that stands above all others is my Margate necklace (which she is wearing in the photo).  I made it when I had only been doing metal clay for eight months, and I don’t know how I ever thought I could make something like it.  I think it was pure ignorance that allowed me to proceed, plus encouragement from my mentor Ellen Cole!”

Find more of Brett’s work at, or at the Sustainable Nantucket Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market every Saturday from June to October.