Class gets bold with jewelry


POSTED: Thursday, January 22, 2009

While the long-established public-school system struggles with budget cuts, imagine how difficult it must be to maintain a new program started on a shoestring.





        Creations by Kapiolani Community College students

Place: elle Couture Jewellers, 909 Kapiolani Blvd.


Open: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Monday to Thursday


Call: 591-8080



That's the dilemma of a small-scale sculpture and jewelry class being offered at Kapiolani Community College to introduce students to three-dimensional sculpture. The class started in the fall of 2006, with a handful of tools donated by Sean Browne in the memory of his mother, Miki Browne, who loved the art of jewelry making.

With only one torch, copper and a lot of creative spirit, the students are turning out intriguing, bold sculptural pieces, which instructor Carol Sakihara believed needed to be seen. But finding a space was tough. In exchange for showing pieces, commercial galleries reasonably expect that pieces will be made available for sale, with a portion of the price going to the gallery. This goes against nature for the students, who often want to hold on to their class projects.

Sakihara found a space in elle Couture Jewellers, a new jewelry gallery that opened at the 909 Kapiolani complex last month. The student exhibition will be displayed Saturday through Jan. 29, and a percentage of sales of Roberto Coin jewelry and some students' works will benefit the KCC program.

  "I thought it could work because we carry designers like Roberto Coin, who's very creative," elle Couture creative director Lance Ishibashi said. "It would be great if we could encourage students from Hawaii and show them that they could work for companies like Roberto Coin, Tiffany or Harry Winston if they apply themselves."

What's surprising is that few of the students are art majors. As a basic elective course, the work is coming out of students in KCC's cooking or language programs.

Working outside their disciplines and being new to the art form seems to have a liberating effect, which is exciting to Sakihara, an award-winning artist and jewelry designer, who notes that "contemporary jewelry functions not only as adornment but also as an expression of ideas, whether social, political or personal."

"I'm really impressed by the students because they have a sense of risk-taking," she said. "They're really interested in experimenting. They're not working with a formula."