As a fan of silver jewelry, especially clean lines and designs that let the metal really shine, I’m the proud owner of more than one of Sharon Dudka’s creations. The Ladysmith, BC artist is busy keeping up with the demand for her work through her online shop, Metal Rocks.
She’s had to work hard to get where she is, however. After suffering a head injury in a car accident in 1995 Sharon’s creativity was temporarily halted, but her story is a testament to the power of creativity to help the healing process, and inspiration for anyone who is determined to live the life they were meant to.
How did you get started in designing and creating jewelry?
I was a creative kid – singing, drawing, creating from anything. I made a bit of leather and wooden jewelry as a teenager just for fun. In 1988 I got a reading from Shannon Sambells of Calgary, which said that I was doing the absolutely wrong job (at the time I was measuring natural gas for Nova, an Alberta corporation) and should be working with my hands. I was already a singer, so I was a bit baffled. However, the next week I saw an advertisement for a silver smithing course at the Southwestern Cultural Centre in Edmonton. I signed up and started making ‘real’ jewelry immediately. I still have the first ring I ever made – an amethyst on a thick silver band. I was hooked. I quit my job in 1990 and moved out to Vancouver Island to be an astrologer and silversmith.
What inspires you?
Everything! I can’t be anywhere or look at anything without seeing some shape or a feeling that inspires me. Mostly though, it’s the media itself – silver. More specifically, argentium. I made ordinary jewelry that I considered quite uninspired until I discovered argentium sterling silver in 2007. What makes argentium different from sterling silver is the germanium content, which inhibits oxidization or tarnish but it also gives the silver a smooth finish, if done correctly, instead of the dimpled look that sterling silver gets when it cools. Argentium stays smooth – like in this necklace [left]. Working with this metal is so much fun! I’m literally never at a loss for what to make… I have a book filled with ideas!
What is your most popular design?
I would say these small silver hoops. I make these from 5/8 of an inch to 2.5 inches, and they sell regularly on-line. My best-seller in person is what I call the Floating Hoop, where the ear wire is actually a take-off on the previous design. I literally sell these out and if it’s a three-day show, I’m making these into the night for the next day! I can’t make enough, not that I do shows anymore as Etsy has been so good to me, but back in the day.
What are your other creative outlets? I know you’re a singer…
Yes, I’ve always been a singer. My father was heavily into country music, having gone down to the US, and met Hank Williams at the Louisiana Hayride! He’d take me to all the travelling Grand Ole Opry shows in the ‘60s. I met every single artist in person. Kitty Wells would introduce my Dad from the audience and he had a standing invitation to her home for years. My middle name is June, after June Carter Cash, who my Dad had a fixation with! I studied music at Central Collegiate in Regina, then I moved to Edmonton because 70% of country record sales in Canada were sold in Alberta, from Red Deer north. I was a ‘pick up’ singer for many bands, weddings, and plenty of ‘O Canada’ action for hockey tournaments and rodeos. I also was the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator for the Canadian Country Music Association in Edmonton, funding raising for years and hosting on CCMA awards show in 1990. I had a blast!
I’ve always been artsy. I had been a Ukrainian dancer since the age of five, having danced for and met the Queen in 1967. I started touring at 12 and teaching at 14, and co-founded a dance troupe at. The natural progression was stage managing in theatre, as I knew how to fundraise and do just about anything that needs being done for a show. So I did that for a few years, as well as studying astrology with internationally acclaimed astrologer Chris McRae who is the current VP of International Society of Astrological Research (ISAR). I have been a professional astrologer since 1989. From 1994 to 2002 I was the Astrologer for the Cosmic Debris Musicians magazine as well as writing many music articles for them. There are still some of my articles floating around on-line. I was the Secretary for the Cowichan Folk Guild from 1999 to 2003 and Stage Managed the Chapel Venue for the Island Folks Festival for several years.
Do you listen to music while you work?
Because I’m such a performer I find it difficult to listen to music when working as I always want to ‘do’ music, so I either listen to zen music or TV. Sometimes I just like it quiet as well. I definitely like silence when I solder.
In 1994 you were in a serious car accident, which must have required a lengthy recovery time. How long was it before you were creating again?
I had the car accident at 4:45pm September 12, 1994, in which I became the victim of a head injury. I had just moved to the area and people around me didn’t realize I was different and it took several years before I gained enough insight to understand what happened to me. Jewelry and astrology went to the sidelines while I struggled to recover. It was several years before I made jewelry again as I acquired a fear of the torch with my head injury, and could no longer solder. In my need to create I started making a few pieces though they were confined to simple wire and rock.
I made my first solder joint since the accident on June 19, 2008 and feel I am finally back to being me!! I created my Etsy shop in August 2008 and the rest is history. It was a slow start but I worked hard to make the Etsy platform work for me. Today it is a thriving business for which I couldn’t be more grateful! My work is now all over the world in dozens of countries! I love my job and am thankful to all my wonderful customers who have made this shop what it is today!
One sad thing from the accident is my loss of memory and the fact that I used to have a photographic memory. I lost the color of my memories and now often dream in black and white. A real drag!! So if you see me reaching for a name and you know I know it… it’s a momentary lapse although sometimes it won’t come to me for days. I couldn’t think of the word ‘door’ for a few days once. It drove me nuts.
What are your thoughts on creativity as an aid to healing?
I think music is Nature’s healer. It can literally change energy patterns, enabling healing to occur. I have remembrances from a time when they used light and sound to heal the body, etheric and physical. But that’s a whole other story. My grandmother was a Gypsy and I started to see discarnates as a child. I have since turned it off. Life got too confusing after the accident but I’ve had wonderful experiences and visions over the years. Without my Inner World I wouldn’t be here today – music was a large part of my healing.
What achievement are you most proud of?
My daughter – she is the Light of My Life! Other than that great achievement, I LOVE life after all I have been through – much of it not touched upon here. I hope to write a book one day to tell it all. I’m always looking forward to the next experience! I have been blessed to meet some extremely inspirational people who taught me to engage in life and not just let it happen to you! I fancy I’ve done a fair bit of that! I would say that my volunteer work is very rewarding. I currently am the statistican for the local Food Bank. Being able to be of assistance to another soul is always a great achievement.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
That I can be with my daughter whenever I want or need to be. Plus I LOVE it! It’s a giggle to just walk over to my studio and start the day! I worked very hard to be in this position and there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not grateful and feel truly blessed!!
Thanks, Sharon! I hope you write that book some day too, so we can learn more of your story!
Be sure to check out Sharon’s Etsy shop (and maybe do a little shopping!)
All images courtesy of Sharon Dudka.