Tell us how you got started doing what you do. Did you gain formal training? If not, how did you develop your art?
I started metalsmithing as a hobby approximately 20 years ago. After taking a couple of start-up classes at the Edmonton Cultural Centre, I continued to learn and refine my craft over the years by reading how-to books and articles and watching how-to videos, but mostly learning by trial and error so I consider myself to be self taught.
In the mid-90’s, I left a full time position as an instructor in the Paramedic Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton to pursue metalsmithing full time and have since developed my hobby into a successful small business.
Where do you produce your work?
I relocated from Edmonton to Gabriola Island, BC in 1998 where I produced and sold my jewelry from my home-based studio/gallery and became an active member of the community Arts Council. In 2006, I relocated to Chemainus on Vancouver Island and continue to produce my jewelry to date from my home-based studio/workshop there as well as participate in local artist events.
What types of materials do you use? Why?
I work with various metals but primarily focus on creating copper jewelry. I used to work primarily in sterling silver, but it simply got too expensive. I will still make a piece in silver if specifically requested; however, working in copper allows me to keep my work priced affordably for my customers.
What are three items in your shop that you are particularly proud of?
Many of my handcrafted jewelry designs are inspired by the nature of West Coast living as showcased in my heron and crow pieces of which I am most proud. (Click on photos to view in Kent's Etsy shop and to read descriptions of process involved in making these pieces.)
What goals do you have?
I am constantly aspiring to learn new methods and techniques including my most recent venture of flame painting on copper.
What are the tools of your trade?
The tools of my trade consist of a variety of jewelry-making supplies, findings, hammers, saw blades and so forth as well as a propane oxygen torch and a small kiln.
What challenges do you face in your work and what ways have you addressed them?
July 2013, I joined Etsy.com and set up an on-line shop called Images By Kent Olinger. Being a seller on Etsy has offered me the opportunity to showcase my work on the World Wide Web and has helped me overcome my biggest challenge as an artist which was simply getting my work out there. Etsy has offered me the perfect platform to do so. My exposure on Etsy has also led to an opportunity to display and promote my work through the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, Washington, as well as a feature in the upcoming fall/winter edition of Amazing Canadian FashionMagazine.
Have you been in the news or featured elsewhere?
Past Honors include: Alberta Government - Commissioned brooch given to Canadian Premiers’ wives at the 17th Premier's Conference - Jasper Alberta, 1996. World Figure Skating Championship, 1996 - Commissioned limited edition brooch. The National Gallery of Canada Gift Shop - Commissioned brooch "Stormy Weather" from Group of Seven painter F.A. Varley, for "Canadian Museums Selections" catalogue, 1997. Designed and produced lapel pin for Nanaimo, BC Chamber of Commerce annual Business awards 2000-2005. Designed and produced "Year of Service Award Pins" for Coastal Community Credit Union 2001-2006.
I also display and sell my work at the weekly local Chemainus Farmers’ Market, May through September, and participate in the annual Ladysmith Arts on the Avenue each August. My work is sold in retail shops in Nanaimo, Victoria and Canmore, as well as the National Gallery of Canada Gift Shop.