Christy Dutton brings recycled metal back to life in her handmade jewelry.
We all know the beach can be an inspiring place, but it’s normally a sit-back-and-relax kind of inspiration that encourages you to do less than usual. For Christy Dutton of Amelia Christopher Designs, however, a trip to the beach had the exact opposite effect: It launched her into a whole new side business.
Christy, a Hoover resident, creates one-of-a-kind jewelry incorporating genuine pearl, leather, and copper designs. “I began making jewelry when I saw a pearl necklace in a Seaside boutique and thought I could create my own,” she says. Now, she’s inspired to make new pieces every time she goes back to the Gulf coast. The result is a collection of unique, handmade jewelry that can dress an outfit up or down, and looks great layered.
Christy, a native of Starkville, Mississippi, grew up taking art lessons from students at Mississippi State University, where her dad worked as a professor. But the city of Birmingham was a big part of her childhood, too. Christy’s grandmother lived in the Magic City, and so Christy, along with her three sisters, made frequent trips to visit her. They also enjoyed the Birmingham Zoo and Vulcan on their family trips.
Something about Birmingham appealed to Christy—so much so that she chose to attend college at Birmingham-Southern College instead of staying in her hometown of Starkville. Her art classes at Birmingham-Southern added more fuel to her artistic fire, especially those taught by Bob Tucker, who created the fish installation at Children’s of Alabama before the renovation.
These days, Christy and her family live in the Green Valley area of Hoover. Christy works full-time as a physical therapist at Healthworx and prioritizes time with her family, but when she finds a spare minute, she pours her creative energy into her jewelry—specifically recycled copper jewelry. “I started copper jewelry to practice for precious metals, but I loved the texture and softness and strength of copper, and never changed to another metal,” Christy says. “Copper is antibacterial, and since I work in healthcare, that is a wonderful natural property.”
But it’s not just the copper element that Christy loves about her creations. The recycled part is important to her, too. “I love using recycled copper because it had a purpose before I had my hands on it,” Christy says. Sometimes, that purpose comes with a really cool story. Other times, she never knows where the copper came from or who had it before her.
Recently, she has been using copper pieces from someone in Michigan who recovered the pieces from their late father’s lantern workshop. The pieces were shaped into long strips, half moons and circles. Christy never knew what the pieces were originally intended for, but in her hands, they became seed pods with pearls.
The idea for the seed pods was inspired by a sermon about the prodigal son delivered by Clay Farrington, pastor at Riverchase United Methodist Church. In the sermon, Farrington related how he had ordered locust bean pods from Amazon to supplement the sermon. When he got them, he realized they smelled awful and he could not pass them around the church. If the prodigal son had been willing to eat them, Farrington said, then he must have been very desperate indeed, and his desperation drove him back to his father. This picture stuck with Christy and, thus, the seed pods were born. Each one turned out beautifully unique, thanks to the various hard spots in the copper pieces that dictated how they could be formed.
As she continues to create jewelry, Christy is in the process of picking up a new skill: soldering. She uses the Tiffany technique, which is also employed by stained glass artists. “I have learned by watching lots of YouTube videos and listening to other artists’ wisdom in Facebook artist groups,” Christy says of her new adventure. “I have been experimenting with adding texture to the solder, and have melted many things accidentally. I hope to continue to improve my skills.”
Christy’s jewelry can be found at Lou Lou’s in the Patton Creek shopping center. You’ll also find Christy’s wares at the Bluff Park Art Show. Follow her on Facebook at Amelia Christopher Designs.