Donna Yutzy: Jewelry Designer
As a jewelry designer, I am tempted by textures and persuaded by patterns. These characteristics are inherent in every piece I produce, from a simple pin or pair of earrings to the most intricately woven chain, sculpted pendant, or paneled bracelet.
I make all of my jewelry from special clay that contains tiny particles of silver mined from recycled metal. Silver metal clay, as it is called, is a delightful and limitless medium. It can be shaped, carved, molded, stamped, and sculpted. And once it’s fired, it can be highly polished or less so, and finished with pearls, stones, glass beads, or other unusual artifacts.
Every piece is unique. Though I usually sketch out an idea ahead of time, I find that mood, materials, and the creative process often determine the final design. My most popular and best-selling pieces are usually ones that I made for myself.
The pieces in my current collection are inspired by nature — random swirls in sand, the twists and turns of a tree branch. A splash of gold and colored stones add warmth and brightness, in sharp contrast to Oregon’s dreary winter days.
An avid cyclist, I tend to thrive on forward motion. But designing and fashioning jewelry out of metal clay helps me feel calm and centered. In addition to teaching one metal clay class each month, I try to take at least one course annually from a new instructor to help generate inspiration and provide time for self-reflection.
Born in Norwalk, California, Donna Yutzy reluctantly moved to rural Oregon with her parents and two older brothers when she was 16 years old. She attended a Mennonite school with strict rules and regulations, which were not always a good fit for her restless adolescence. After graduating, Donna held a series of odd jobs, including working in food service, as a bank teller, and cleaning at an assisted living center. In 1990, Donna and one of her brothers opened a store in Salem, Oregon specializing in Southwestern-style beads used in Native American arts and crafts. While there, she ended up joining forces with a customer to create a business featuring beaded jewelry. By chance, she took a metal clay class and found that she enjoyed the freedom in, and the challenge presented by, the medium. Donna is certified in a variety of art clay techniques and teaches about a -dozen classes per year, mostly in Eugene where she lives with her husband, Gordon. In addition, she exhibits and offers her jewelry for sale at galleries and art shows throughout Oregon.