Pandemic turned part-time jewelry maker into a full-time machine

  • Becky Sawyer assists potential customers at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair on Tuesday.

  • Becky Sawyer with one of her earrings at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair at Mt. Sunapee on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Morgan Farrell, 5, of Brookline, Massachusetts picks out an necklace as her grandmother, Nancy Farrell puts it on her at the Becky Sawyer booth at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair at Mt. Sunapee on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Some of the earrings in the Becky Sawyer collection at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair at Mt. Sunapee on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Morgan Farrell, 5, of Brookline, Massachusetts, looks over jewelry at Becky Sawyer’s booth at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair at Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Some of the earrings in the Becky Sawyer collection at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair at Mt. Sunapee on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Morgan Farrell, 5, of Brookline, Massachusetts looks over items with her mother and grandmother at the Becky Sawyer booth at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair at Mt. Sunapee on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Becky Sawyer shows one of her earrings to customers at the 88th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair at Mt. Sunapee Resort in Newbury on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Compliments of her Monarch butterfly earrings was the impetus needed for Becky Sawyer to begin her enterprise.

Published: 8/13/2021 4:47:57 PM

After losing her part-time job at the start of the pandemic, Becky Sawyer dove headfirst into making her jewelry business a full-time career.

This week she is among the dozens of juried League of New Hampshire Craftsmen artists who will be selling their creations and showing off their skills at a live nine-day fair held in the shadow of Mount Sunapee, a year after the fair went virtual.

Sawyer, of Hillsborough, makes an unusual style of jewelry: earrings and charms made of delicate shrink plastic illustrations drawn in colored pencils.

She began selling her crafts only a few years ago. She had made earrings of a Monarch butterfly and wore them to the Common Man restaurant where she worked as a bartender. After receiving many compliments on the earrings, she decided to create more to sell at the Concord Arts Market.

It was a success.

“It was very lucrative that one time,” Sawyer said, “Then I kind of got addicted to trying all different kinds of different butterflies and flowers and everything, dragonflies, and when I brought all those new designs, those all sold.”

While the butterfly was the nudge that Sawyer needed to get started, she now offers many styles and designs.

“I just kind of see things in nature and take a picture of it, and I’ll go home and I’ll draw something from it or even like somebody’s pattern on their shirt and I get inspired by that,” she said. “Microbiology is wicked inspirational to me; anything under a microscope is wicked interesting.”

After roughing the surface of the shrink plastic, she draws on it with Prismacolor colored pencils, at that point the art could be four inches in diameter.

Then the plastic is baked, causing it to shrink. It also makes the flat plastic malleable so that Sawyer can contour pieces to add dimension.

When the set of earrings is cooled, Sawyer drills holes in each and adds oxidized sterling silver hooks she makes by hand to complete them.

While selling at Market Days with the Concord Arts Market, Sawyer said she encountered members of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen who encouraged her to become a juried member.

“At that time, I didn’t really think I was prepared, so I gave it a little more time,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer left her full-time job at the Common Man to have more time to work on her jewelry business while working a handful of part-time jobs.

In 2019, in the midst of those part-time jobs, she got juried into the League.

“Then, I got laid off because of COVID,” she said. “That’s when I decided to say, ‘Okay, if I want to make a living as a full-time artist, this is my chance to do it.’ ”

For the last year and a half, she’s focused all her energy on making earrings and more earrings.

“Even if I was wicked tired, I’m just gonna make two more pairs of earrings,” Sawyer said.

During the pandemic, much of her sales were fueled by social media. Sawyer said she would post on her Facebook and Instagram accounts and people would message her looking to buy them. She’s also participated in other craft shows.

Sometimes though, people offer to buy earrings right out of her own ears. Sawyer on several occasions says she’s taken out earrings, sanitized them and handed them over to new owners.

And there’s usually another pair waiting in her purse.

“The silver lining of COVID was, unfortunately, I have to say it was a total benefit for me. Because I got laid off,” Sawyer said. “It propelled me into a machine. A machine.”

The fair will continue daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Sunday at Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nhcrafts.org.




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