Denny Machette Pizarro poses with some of the jewelry she makes at her home. Machette Pizarro has been making jewelry for 19 years and sells her jewelry under the name D. Machette Jewelry. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
Jewelry maker plays with fire to craft unique creations
Denny Machette Pizarro has always loved jewelry – she especially enjoys wearing big statement necklaces, dangling earrings, chunky bracelets and bold rings.
When she took her first jewelry-making class some 20 years ago, she discovered that wielding a torch, using a burnisher and working with the precision tools to create something beautiful was the perfect way to use her artistic talent.
“It’s been a passion,” Pizarro said. “I was always artistic – drawing… watercolors… I had a pottery phase.”
Once she found metalsmithing, however, that became her obsession.
Creating jewelry, she said, is her therapy.
“When I was working, this was what I did to get sane,” she said with a laugh.
Since retiring to Florida five years ago, she’s had more time to spend in her studio, a meticulously organized spare bedroom in her home.
While she relies on her Etsy shop to sell most of her D Machette Jewelry designs, she also participates in First Friday Art Walks in downtown Ocala.
Many of her one-of-a-kind pieces begin with a gemstone selected from her “rock stash” – shallow drawers, each lined with dozens of stones in every shape, size and color. She purchases them individually whenever she’s captivated by the pink and purple bands of a laguna agate or intrigued by the multicolored hues of ocean jasper. When inspiration strikes, she sketches her ideas, sometimes 15 or 20 times, before she’s satisfied with the design.
Creating a setting for the stone usually includes playing with fire.
Some of her favorite techniques include fusing or melding metals together with the heat of a torch and flame painting copper to elicit shades of blue, red or green.
With the ancient Korean technique of Keum Boo, Pizarro bonds 24 karat gold to fine silver to create intricate patterns. Part of the fun, she said, is there’s always something new to learn, and she takes online classes taught by instructors from as far away as Malaysia.
Here in Ocala, Pizarro enjoys the chance to share her craft with others. She will start a monthly series beginning on May 15 at the Brick City Center for the Arts. She will teach a cold-connected jewelry-making class showing how to make items using metal, glass and beads without a torch. The techniques will focus on wrapping, riveting and drilling, as well as the use of a jewelers’ saw to cut designs in copper.
“I am a teacher at heart,” Pizarro said, adding that she is a retired speech pathologist who worked for many years with special education students.
“I loved working with kids – to see that spark when they get it or to see them master something,” she said. “I love to see that in students of all kinds. If I can teach somebody what makes me happy and see that it makes them happy, it’s everything.”