Forget white, industrial-looking PVC. The pipe Casey Sheppard uses looks like bone. But don’t ask he 34-year-old to share her secrets behind how she transforms PVC. Sheppard, a self declared punk (sometimes) and biker (the pedal kind), started making jewelry nearly 10 years ago in her home state, Nebraska.
“My grandfather had a lumber yard and always had tools. I’ve always loved doing a project with tools, or putting stuff together. So that has always been a constant. That’s one of the bonuses of working with jewelry. I get to play with tools.”
How did you learn to make jewelry?
“I bought a cold connection book and just started making every project in the book. I just started going at it. It was really horrible. All the edges were so rough. I didn’t know how to do anything.”
What is the PVC supposed to look like?
“I didn’t want it to look like PVC. I really wanted it to look organic and not industrial. That’s my thing that I like. I take an industrial item and make it look organic, and then take organic things and make them look industrial. I like the blend of the two.”
I want to do one-of-a-kind work. I’m completely adamant about not doing production work.Casey Sheppard
“I get so bored. It’s not fun. My thing I’ve learned throughout my life is, yeah, you can make all the money in the world, but if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?”
“I don’t want to be like everyone else. If I see something in my work that I notice is like everyone else, I’ll change it. I want my own voice. I’ve really been trying to find my voice.”
Have you found it?
“I think I’m getting close to finding it.”
How will you know when you get there?
“I’ll know it when I see it. It’s in there in my sub-conscious. I guess my sub-conscious knows what it is, I just don’t know what it is yet. My mind’s not ready to let it out yet.”
“My bike itself is a huge influence in my work. I see the connections of a bike chain, or just the way the mechanics of the bike completely influence me.”
How many races have you competed in?
“I’ve been cycling for two years now. I’ve done national races all over. I don’t place, I just finish. I’m not fast, but I just love to mountain bike.”
“It keeps me sane and keeps me centered.”
How do you name your pieces?
“A lot of it’s based off movies and music. That’s a really big influence. Like ‘Judy Was a Punk’ is a Ramones song. I love the Ramones.”
What about these earrings?
“My dad calls me slick, and I just love those earrings. I do a lot of mountain biking and I did a race in Arkansas. It had just rained, and the rocks were just like ice. They looked like that. When I came home I made those earrings not knowing that they had influenced me. It’s a play on the nickname my dad gave me, and also how slick the rocks were.”
“Lincoln was a great place to start off my career. It’s full of entrepreneurs, big community and big local support. It really taught me the smarts of the business side and to believe in local and believe in community.”