New Jersey is home to countless artists that find inspiration in their home state. Our I HeART New Jersey series celebrates these amazing artists and their designs; giving them the opportunity to not only share their craft, but share their story. Each creator offers their unique take on a different style of art. This month, we’re featuring some of the best metal makers in NJ.
These artists create a variety of items, from handcrafted pieces of jewelry to life-sized nature pieces for the home. But what we enjoy most is that these artists are sharing their stories and love of their craft with us.
Christina Rea of Crea Designs
Christina Rea spent the early 2000s in the fine jewelry industry, learning the ins and outs of jewelry making. Before long, she began designing and making her own jewelry. Now, Rea has her own business, showcasing chic and modern jewelry designs that are characterized by simplicity and minimalism. Her shop is simply known as Crea Designs.
Primarily self-taught, Rea’s skills continue to grow, focusing on a “never stop learning approach to both business and life.” Her mastery of metal-smithing comes from a mix of practice and her studies in Florence, Italy. She specializes in accessories that shine, but don’t outshine you!
From her studio in Neptune, Rea hand fabricates settings for gemstones that range from stackable rings to necklaces and earrings. Designs are simple, yet extraordinary, turning pieces of metal into multi-dimensional art. This process includes the “peaceful” (according to Rea) acts of sawing, sanding, melting solder, polishing, and more. She also enjoys making one-of-a-kind pieces using repurposed materials from her bench. In addition, she incorporates a mindful approach to her business, utilizing scraps and recycling.
Rea hopes to offer small in-studio classes starting in early 2020. In the meantime, you can find Crea Designs online via her website. Otherwise, you can make an appointment through email or follow @CreaDesigns on Instagram and Facebook.
David M. Cafone of CopperDave LLC
Being a maker is in David M. Cafone’s blood. A second-generation sheet metal worker, much of his knowledge comes from his father. His business, Copperdave LLC (open since 1985), creates copper roofing, leaders and gutters, and zinc copperwork. But beyond his traditional work, Cafone makes a name for himself designing something a bit more fun.
For example, Cafone makes wildlife pieces (horses, fish, roosters, & more) using sheet metal and absolutely no power tools. Specifically, he uses vintage sheet metal tools like hand crank tools, sandbags, lead blocks, and a hand hammer. In short, his metal artwork is a true labor of love.
Though he currently works out of his garage, Cafone is moving to an existing 100-year-old original Tinsmith Shop. The location in Montclair originally closed in the 1950s, and comes complete with old tools. He can’t wait to put these classic tools to use in his upcoming work.
Anthony Niglio of Dream Trader Jewelry Design
Anthony Niglio was once a pipe fitter. Now, he turns his passion for metal into jewelry built by hand. Niglio enjoys learning through trial and error, fixing mistakes and coming up with solutions. He also loves to meet other artists in his field. Through running his own business, he has ample opportunity to do both.
Dream Trader Jewelry Design offers truly unique works of art. Moreover, many of the pieces include gold, silver, stone, and other rare minerals. Niglio works mainly with silver, particularly Argentium Silver, which he finds easier to fuse and more resistant to tarnish. But he also works with copper, gold, and bronze. He can even cut minerals when creating jewelry, giving him near limitless options for his creativity.
Seeing a customer’s face light up when they purchase a piece is what inspires Niglio to create something from nothing.
To see more of the best artists in New Jersey, visit I HeART New Jersey: The Complete Series.
Feature (Top) Image: © Crea Designs / Instagram
Additional Photos (in Order) Courtesy:
Christina Rea / Crea Designs
David M. Cafone / CopperDave LLC
Anthony Niglio / Dream Trader Jewelry Design