a chat with Tawny Reynolds of Sundrop Jewelry

I recently chatted over email with Tawny Reynolds, owner and designer of Sundrop Jewelry. Her unique eco-friendly business creates sunshine in a drop of glass. Let’s jump straight in.

little acorn:
What gave you the idea to use a fresnel lens to create melted glass droplets?
Our process of melting glass with sunshine and a giant magnifying glass was first developed by a friend. Back when he was a teenager in Alaska, he received a reward for returning a lost wallet, and bought himself the ultimate geek gift – a two and a half foot magnifying glass. Then, of course, he went around burning everything he could find! From melting lines in beach sand, he started making the earliest versions of Sundrop Jewelry as a hobby. We turned it into a real business in 2005, and I am now the sole maker, designer, manager, and… well, everything, for Sundrop Jewelry.

The fresnel lens I use is a type of magnifying glass originally invented for lighthouses. Turn that lighthouse lens around, and instead of dispersing light, it concentrates the light. It reaches up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit on a clear sunny day! Since it is so hot, most glass starts to melt very quickly. However, since the heat all comes from light, there has to be enough color there to absorb the light – the light passes right through clear glass, and white reflects the light, so they don’t melt at all, while black glass immediately starts to boil.

[youtube https://youtu.be/mOI1ERdZgMg]

Melting glass with direct solar energy is eco-friendly, of course, but I try to keep the entire business eco-friendly as well. I use sustainable and recycled materials as much as possible, including 100% recycled sterling silver, and many recycled glass bottles (some colors come from stained glass, as there just aren’t many pink or purple glass bottles around). I use packaging made from 100% recycled paper for cards, jewelry boxes, and padded envelopes. I recently discovered “tree-free” paper, made from waste fiber from sugar cane processing!

little acorn:
I love so much about everything about what you make. I smile at all your designs, the sunshine really is in every drop! When someone steps up to your booth at a show, what do you wish for?
I have so many colors (more than 20!) and jewelry designs that I simply can’t show them all in a fair booth – or even on my website!
Colorcard of Sundrop Jewelry Birthstones.

Color Card of Birthstones.

It simply creates paralysis of choice for most people. So I trim down what I have on display – but when someone has something specific they’re looking for, I wish they’d ask! I love pulling out all my colors, and always have stock ready to quickly whip up the simpler jewelry designs, the drops already in pairs and ready to go. The glass drops range quite a bit in size, and I usually have shorter and longer pieces as well as what is on display. I also adore working on custom designs – I’ve made clustered colors of the family’s birthstones, expanded existing designs, and worked with customers on entirely new ideas. Helping people find or create the perfect piece is the best part of my job!
little acorn:
What do you do on cloudy days?
Everything else involved in making my jewelry and running a small business! From wire wrapping the glass drops and finding pairs for earrings, to photography, packing and shipping, developing new designs, accounting, customer service and writing newsletters – as a one-person show I get to do it all. There’s more than enough to fill up any cloudy days – especially in California, where the cloudy days are relatively few. Sundrops have been made in Seattle, Colorado, one of the rainiest parts of Alaska, and Minnesota (where I always tried to stock up well in summer so I wouldn’t have to spend the winter sitting outside making drops in snow pants and a parka).
Sundrop Jewelry
little acorn:
What drives your creative process?

Dusty Orchid Kite Lariat

I get inspired by my customers and by the glass colors themselves. A new bottle color I see in someone’s recycling bin, a sheet of multicolored stained glass, new millefiori rods in the glass shop – I want to try them all! I love the way translucent glass glows in the light, and it is really fun to find new glass colors and patterns to experiment with. I frequently look at my current palette of colors, and browse glass shops for something new to fill the holes. For example, for years I’ve been trying to find a pink glass that doesn’t change color when melted and doesn’t contain lead. I’ve finally found one, and recently added it to my birthstone collection for October – watermelon tourmaline!

This year has seen a veritable Cambrian Explosion of designs (sorry, my paleontology background is showing). Many of these new designs were either custom design requests or were inspired by a customer’s original idea. The designing is definitely the fun part for me. Agonizing over naming the new pieces, writing descriptions and listing, doing all the marketing and promotion for a launch – not so much.

little acorn:
Kitten or Puppy snuggles?
Kitty snuggles, although I don’t get them very often – we’ve sadly become a highly allergic family 🙁
little acorn:
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me!

Learn more about Sundrop Jewelry:

sundrop-trio-neclackesYou can find Sundrop Jewelry at www.sundropjewelry.com and at many local stores near you.

You can also follow Sundrop Jewelry on Facebook and Pinterest.

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One Reply to “a chat with Tawny Reynolds of Sundrop Jewelry”

  1. Thank you so much Penny! I love the pictures you chose to go along with the interview!


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