Copper in the Arts

February 2012

MinusOne: Contemporary Copper Jewelry with a Vintage Twist

By Ashley Morris

Copper Choker Art Deco Copper Choker

Photograph courtesy of Jen Wofford

Artist Jen Wofford isn’t minus the talent or the discerning eye for picking out brass materials for her jewelry, but she should be minus the time, with all of the activities she has her hands on these days.

MinusOne, however, the jewelry line she started up on Etsy three years ago, is something she always finds time for.

“For those who like to design and don’t have time, this part-time work is perfect,” she says. “It’s what I enjoy.”

Wofford, a working wife and mother of two young children (ages 3 and 8) living outside of Ithaca, N.Y., is a study programs manager in graduate and professional studies and part-time faculty member at Ithaca College. She has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

It is her hobbies that feed her creative brain, through fabrics, knitting and sewing, as well as jewelry design. Her first Etsy shop, Blue Hair Knits, a gallery of vintage fabric pincushions, have now been moved into MinusOne.

“I’ve taken two years to knit a sweater, two weeks to sew a piece of clothing, but in two hours I can create something that changes everything about getting ready for work the next morning,” Wofford shares on her Etsy site. “I love how jewelry so simply declares your sense of fashion.”

Jen Wofford with Patina Earrings Jen Wofford with Patina Earrings

Photograph courtesy of Jen Wofford

Wofford also has a keen eye vintage fashion and often embarks on a treasure hunt/road trip for antique brass pieces, chokers, raw brass or pre-fabricated copper, and new and old chains. She then proceeds to work her magic with hand tools like wire wrappers, pliers, blocks for hammering and stamping sets to bend or shape.

“I’m a jewelry designer, not a metalsmith,” she says. “But I have the same appreciation for the dynamic elements of brass and copper – how they easily oxidize, and you can polish it, color it, buff it, brush it with steel wool to change the look. And reusing vintage pieces makes my jewelry eco-friendly.”

Grounded in academia, Wofford would love to share her love for Etsy as a computer arts educational tool for schoolchildren; she calls the program Etsy K12. Wofford has a vested interested in online craft communities and, as she describes, “broadening participation in computing, print media in virtual environments, qualitative research and assessment of K-12 computer arts education.”

For now, she’s kept busy wearing other hats, and in addition to Etsy, sells her MinusOne line at local Ithaca boutiques.

“The message I really want to pass along is that anyone can design jewelry,” says Wofford. “As long as you have some imagination, just put some pliers in your hands.”


Jen Wofford, MinusOne, Ithaca, NY

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