BY LENNIE BENNETT
Times Art Critic
Erin Zisser is doing her part to turn swords into ploughshares in a contemporary way. The jewelry designer is taking used shell casings and repurposing them into jewelry, "taking something that makes you think of war and destruction and turning them into necklaces and bracelets," she says.
"War of Art" debuts Saturday at an opening reception at the Dysfunctional Grace Art Co. in the Crislip Arcade, 645 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, from 6 to 9 p.m. The line is a new part of her larger jewelry collection, which she describes as having a punk sensibility — spikes and skulls, for example, artfully incorporated into accessories — and uses the tagline, "When you need some grit with your glamour." She sells her wearable art online at diamondsandcoaljewelry.com, and in art galleries such as Dysfunctional Grace.
She enlisted about 20 artists to make line drawings on some of the casings, which she then etched into the metal. The decorated casings were incorporated into finished pieces.
Zisser, 30, a professional Web designer and a self-taught craftswoman, says, "I've been designing jewelry since I was six. I started Diamonds and Coal about a year ago because people wanted to know where the jewelry I made for myself could be bought."
She got the idea of bullet-based jewelry from bullet belts worn by people on the punk scene. Plus, she says, "My uncle shoots," which is how she gets most of the shell casings. This collection is priced between $25 and $75 with limited edition pieces a bit more. She also creates custom designs, which she says account for about 40 percent of her business.
The evening will include raffles and a Battle of the Bullets in which guests can cast their ballots — in this case, casings — for their favorite artists' designs. The event is free.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8293.