James resurrects skills from high school class for her Silver & Stones jewelry

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Joy James shows off one of the silver disks—a key component of many of her earrings—that she recently formed with special tools. Her jewelry is available at The Left Bank Shop and Gallery, in McGregor. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Joy fashions her jewelry in her McGregor apartment.

Each of her tools helps her do something different when creating jewelry, Joy said.

Joy makes a bit of everything—earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings—typically using silver. Earrings are her favorite.

When making jewelry, James said she has a variety of stones, beads and pieces of silver from which to choose.

“I try to never make two of the same thing,” Joy noted. “If someone buys something, there’s not another one like it.”

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Joy James was first exposed to jewelry-making in high school, when she learned how to solder (joining metal) jewelry in a class. Like many people, though, she left the skill behind, going on to pursue other interests.

“After high school, I didn’t do it again for many years,” said Joy, a mental health specialist for 25 years who moved to McGregor from Seattle in November, to live with her boyfriend, Dan.

The skill was always in the back of her mind, however. When Joy began beading 15 years ago, she thought, “I wonder if I can still solder?”

“It was like riding a bicycle,” she remarked. “So I started up again.”

Joy makes a bit of everything—earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings—typically using silver. Earrings are her favorite.

Notable for their hanging silver disks, which Joy forms with special tools, her earrings often feature a colorful stone(s) or bead(s) at the disk’s center. Other beads sometimes hang from the bottom of the earring.

“I have a variety of things to choose from,” she said, “a gazillion beads and all kinds of silver.”

She’s also recently started experimenting with copper.

Having that variety, said Joy, makes her more creative.

“I’ll have an idea in my head,” she explained. “I’ll know what I want it to be before I start.”

Joy said beading jewelry can be fairly simple, whereas soldering is a bit more time consuming. With the help of oxygen and acetylene, she uses a torch to heat up the silver—and thus bind all the components in place—once she’s lovingly formed a piece of jewelry. Creating a pair of earrings can take up to three hours to complete.

“It’s relaxing to me,” noted Joy of the time she spends customizing her own jewelry. “I like being creative.”

Originally, Joy gave all her jewelry away, as gifts to family or friends. Now, though, with prompting from her friend, Sandy Stevens, who’s president of the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts, Joy has begun selling her jewelry at The Left Bank Shop and Gallery, under the name Silver & Stones.

“I just love the shop,” she said. “I love that it’s all local artists, all handmade.”

Joy relishes the opportunity to share her creativity with others.

“I’m proud to be able to give people something that makes them feel good,” she said. 

Joy also custom makes jewelry, so people with a specific piece in mind can contact her at (425) 772-8606 or SilverNStonesByJoy@gmail.com to set up a consultation.

“I try to never make two of the same thing,” she noted. “If someone buys something, there’s not another one like it.”

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