Thomas Dailing

Why did you choose jewelry as your profession?

I had no option. It called me. My first career was gourmet dining; I worked the front of the room. I grew up being the kid who never stopped drawing. Since my family moved a lot, my mother would always set me up with a desk and I would draw every day. I never went to the same school two years in a row. During high school I discovered I liked working in three dimensions. I was making objects with stones and rocks and shells and anything I could find. It was during this time that I carved a piece of wax my brother, Jim Dailing, sent to me. It was magic.

What is your training/academic background in jewelry-making?

I was an art major at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. I basically took their system and formed it around my interests. At that time, I was taking two jewelry courses every semester. I didn’t follow any normal university requirements. I lived in the metals room. I outgrew my teacher quickly and started my business two and a half years after starting college. I got a job doing jewelry repair with my brother Jimmy.

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What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your business?

It was making the switch from jewelry repairs to making custom work. The biggest challenge for any designer is being limited by your imagination and the willingness to keep trying. I have habitually changed.

Tell us about your piece “Aberration.”

"Aberration" is defined as an extreme deviation from the norm. It is a departure from what is usual or expected. I have a very unique friendship with the stonecutter Richard Homer. He was the first to do concave gemstone cutting. Because of him the Creative Cutting Award in the AGTA Spectrum competition became a reality. My inspiration was the stone he cut.

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What metals, gemstones and processes do you enjoy most?

18k gold and the platinum family metals are my favorite. Platinum for my lighter weight pieces. Palladium for my heavier pieces. Sapphires for gemstones. I am a sculptor who makes jewelry and I love the process.

Do you follow trends?

I don’t follow trends. I am solely self-directed and have my own vision. I try to put my hand on my soul and pull out my inspiration and creative thoughts. This is the sum of everything.

What is your definition of success?

There is no such thing as success. You habitually grow.

In partnership with Rio Grande. For your bench. At your side.

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