Instructor Spotlight: Meet Jill Hurant

by Metalwerx on February 4, 2013

Sometimes the smallest things are the biggest beauties. For Jill Hurant, the tiny grains of gold that decorated ancient Greek and Roman jewelry steered her direction in jewelry making. “lt’s so amazing. I have a rolling mill, a draw plate, but what they made in those times when they didn’t have the equipment we have, is so mindbogglingly beautiful,” she said.

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Star brooch with Druzy; 22k gold, pearls, druzy, by Jill Hurant

Jill is referring to granulation, the age-old process of fusing minuscule balls of metal to sheet. There is evidence it was practiced in Mesopotamia three thousand years BC, but the Etruscans finessed the technique and made it famous. A discovery near Rome in the early 1800s sparked interest in the process, stumping goldsmiths and scientists as to its fabrication. A hundred years later, it was determined that Etruscans practiced colloidal soldering, using a combination of traganth gum and copper salts to create a metallic bond at a near-melting temperature.

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Cuff Bracelet; oxidized silver, 22k gold, diamonds, by Jill Hurant

Granulation was one of the first techniques Jill learned as a student at the Jewelry Arts Institute in Manhattan. At the time she was there, she said, granulation was one of the more popular classes at the school. “I would never consider myself a traditional metalsmith, but I do know the basics,” she said. “So I stuck to what I learned there (JAI). I love this method, and I loved working in fine silver.”

Today, Jill works exclusively in 22K gold, which she alloys, rolls, and draws into wire herself. She knows that when she alloys her own recipe of gold, copper, and fine silver, that it will fuse just the way she wants it to.

Jill moved from Ohio to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology and for a while, operated a bathing suit cover-up business. Although her hand painted pieces were sold in boutiques across the nation, it didn’t always provide the greatest satisfaction–especially when merchandise was returned, and often not in the condition when it left her workshop.

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Domed Ring; 22k gold, diamonds, by Jill Hurant

She had never considered herself an artist, although she made a lot of her own clothes, some handbags and belts, and was the daughter of a prominent enamellist. Jill thought her FIT education would lead to work as a buyer or fashion coordinator for a department store. But she yearned to do something with an artistic edge. A friend of hers told her she would be good at metalsmithing, and took her to visit a jewelry making student.

Jill was impressed but skeptical, since she wasn’t “a jewelry person” and hardly ever wore any. A year later, she reluctantly signed up to take a class. “From day one, I thought this is the most amazing thing I’d ever done,” she said. “The first thing I ever did was a cloisonné enamel, and I had to make the setting. I was literally hooked on metalsmithing the minute I started.”

Jill will teach “Fine Silver Granulation” at Metalwerx, April 5-7. The workshop will show the entire granulation process, including how to make granules, the proper preparation of metal, setting up a design, fusing fine silver, and clean-up.

Hurrant Pendant

Pendant; 22k gold, diamond, pearl, by Jill Hurant

The end product may look intricate and challenging, but the process itself is not that difficult, she says. “It is a bit labor intensive, and you sometimes have to do it two or three times because you don’t want to melt anything.” Those little balls of metal will try to get away from you, she said. “You can’t ensure that you don’t lose a single granule.”

Jill is enjoying being a new grandmother, and when not making jewelry, finds time to knit and crochet. But teaching the process she loves so much is still one of her greatest joys.  “When I teach a class, everyone likes to make a project and go home with something. But my classes are technique oriented, so if you walk out of here knowing how the technique works, I feel as if I’ve done my job.”

–by Yleana Martinez

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Metalwerx February 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Hi, Leeza, we’d love to have you take a class at Metalwerx, too! However, we currently don’t have any plans to have Jill return to teach a second class on granulation, but it’s still pretty early in the year and will certainly keep you in mind when we do. If you are not yet on our mailing list, please sign up at http://www.metalwerx.com to keep on top of new offerings. May we also suggest you look up Jill online and see if any of her future workshops fit into your schedule. Thanks for writing!

Leeza Khoury February 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I also do granulation work but am positive I don’t do the correct technique. I would love to take this class, but this time frame might be difficult for me. Will she be teaching this course at another time during the year? I would really love the the opportunity to take this class. Please let me know if you are planning of having her teach again sometime this year, if not I need to try and get into this class! Thank you.

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