Hail to the Rad Kids

The undulating flow of jewelry by teen designer Ilianna Kahn

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 10:15am

    CAMDEN — Math, metalsmithing and art all meld in one rippling form when it comes to the work of apprenticing jeweler, Ilianna Kahn, soon-to-be-a-senior at Camden Hills Regional High School.

    Ilianna has been making jewelry for three years since her freshman year, when she took a Jewelry One class for one semester and found she enjoyed it so much, she continued to come into the art room after school and continue making jewelry on her own. 

    Her first design was a pair of copper wire earrings and found that she really liked the process.

    “My Jewelry One teacher encouraged me to contact jeweler Michael Good and ask if I could apprentice under him,” she said. “I was extremely nervous; I rewrote the email to him a few times, I remember.”

    Good, who has encouraged student apprenticeships in the past, was happy to take Ilianna on and since then, she has continued to work with him at his studio on her off-hours, learning how to craft fine jewelry.

    “He’s just been super open with all of his designs and to teaching people if they want to learn,” she said.

    Good’s signature style involves Anticlastic Raising, a style that has been widely used by many metalsmiths. The technique takes a single sheet of metal and transforms it into an undulating shape using a hammer on a sinusodial (snake-like) stake.”

    “The first thing I learned from Michael is how to make a hyperbolic parabloid,” said Ilianna.

    For everyone who has blissfully left geometry behind them in their high school days, the shape looks a bit like a Manta Ray swimming in the ocean and translates beautifully to metal jewelry.

    The way Ilianna describes it: “You start with a square sheet of metal and then you start hammering at it kind of inwards and you end up with this folding piece.”

    Building on her skills, Ilianna has begun to experiment with additional techniques, adding in ruffles to her silver earrings. She has also been experimenting with wrapping copper wire around certain creations such as earrings and rings.

    “I saw this wire-wrapping technique on Instagram and I wanted to try it,” she said.

    At the CHRHS Fine Arts Night in June, Ilianna displayed all of her prototypes on several podiums, including a pair of copper-wrapped earrings using that wire-tapping technique.

    “These were the first pair I made completely of my own design,” she said.

    People often ask if she’s selling her jewelry yet, but Ilianna said, “I still have a lot to learn in terms of different ways to fold the metal.” There’s still more she said she needs to master, plus with the full-time load of school, finals and now a summer job, she has had no time to make a website much less any iterations of her prototype jewelry. Still, it’s in the future plan. Ilianna plans on going to art school when she graduates and dreams of having her own jewelry studio someday, just like Michael Good.

    “I love creating something in 3-D that’s small and intricate and I also love making something that people enjoy—they love how it looks and they love on it looks on them,” she said.

    Hail To The Rad Kids is an ongoing feature highlighting teens in the Midcoast with special talent. 

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com