RJM II - Lancaster PA

Alyssa Woerth Ring
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RJM II - Lancaster PA

Only eight months after the first Radical Jewelry Makeover was piloted in Richmond, Virginia the second edition was held due to popular demand.

In the fall of 2007, just eight months after the pilot RJM in Virginia and fueled by the positive response and feedback, project directors, Christina Miller and Susie Ganch, teamed up with students from Millersville University (PA), where Christina was Assistant Professor in charge of the jewelry and metalsmithing program. Advanced students Juleann Benkoski and Geena Corradi had won the competitive scholarships to be the FIRST RJM student ambassadors to join the project in Richmond. When they returned to the jewelry and metals studio at Millersville, they enthusiastically convinced the program majors that Millersville University needed to host its own Makeover.

Fortunately the local community was also overwhelmingly enthusiastic resulting in an outpouring of donations, excellent press, and a beautiful opening at the Candy Factory Gallery in Lancaster, PA.  Similar to the first installment, the exhibition was designed with recycled cardboard boxes, continuing the projects’ theme of smart re-use.

Each installment of the project is always different and unique from the others. What made this project different from the first was the symposium style Kick-Off event that marked the beginning of the intensive workshop-style week of making.  The Kick-Off not only provided participants with background information about material sourcing and design strategy but also featured guest speakers, Anna Bario and Page Neal, co-founders/ owners of Bario-Neal Jewelry as well as Art Professor Ben Cunningham, known in the art jewelry community for his poignant and simply constructed pieces.

Advanced students participated in the sorting of donations, learning how to identify different materials and hallmarks while assessing people’s unwanted jewelry in order to apply the RJM coupon system. Since the project took place at Millersville University sorting has become an official part of the RJM curriculum, meaning that students now learn how to identify materials when they participate in the project.  We believe understanding what a material is and how it might be re-used is essential to the technical working vocabulary of every jeweler.

Students from Millersville University were joined by 2 former RJM participants from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Meg Roberts and Carlene Berman. Whenever possible we work to continue the student ambassador tradition in order to build a larger RJM community. So far the only edition of the project that did not include the RJM Student Ambassador program was in Brisbane, Australia. Local jewelers and alumni from both the Millersville and VCU programs joined this group of makers.

The Lancaster, PA Radical Jewelry Makeover also sprouted to two local high school editions. One Makeover took place at McCaskey High School and the other at Hempfield High School. Because Christina Miller was living in Lancaster, she was able to assist with these independently run mini-RJMs.