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Land O'Lakes High senior chooses jewelry over 'normal job'

Devin Arrabito, 17, looks through a bug magnifier while taking a break from creating a blue cross for his father’s friend on Tuesday. “I don’t want a normal job,” Arrabito says. “Working with glass is fun. It’s creative.” At top, Arrabito lines up three blue crosses before choosing the one to give his father’s friend.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Devin Arrabito, 17, looks through a bug magnifier while taking a break from creating a blue cross for his father’s friend on Tuesday. “I don’t want a normal job,” Arrabito says. “Working with glass is fun. It’s creative.” At top, Arrabito lines up three blue crosses before choosing the one to give his father’s friend.

Like many teenagers, Devin Arrabito's mind wanders while he's in class.

But unlike most of his peers, Arrabito is thinking about jewelry.

Specifically, what he'll design next for his new line of jewelry called Yippee Wear, which is a collection of pendants and earrings made from blown glass.

Three times a week for the past eight weeks, Arrabito has been working as an apprentice for local jewelry artist Michele Palenik.

"I had been interested in working with glass before meeting Michele," says Arrabito, 17. "I thought glass was glass, but I was wrong."

Palenik spent their first meeting teaching Arrabito about the different kinds of glass, as well as technique and the melding process.

"I liked it right away," says Arrabito, a senior at Land O'Lakes High.

Arrabito knew Palenik from working at the clubhouse in Palenik's neighborhood, a job he says he hated.

"I didn't want a normal job," says Arrabito, who is hoping to make a living as an artist.

Arrabito says he had tried painting and drawing before, but wasn't very good at it.

"I had a lot of ideas in my head, but it didn't translate," he says. "It seems to work with glass."

Arrabito says that, at first, he wasn't sure what he would end up making.

"You can make bowls, too, but jewelry is fun," he says. "I like the craftiness of it. I like that people can wear it."

Arrabito says that he rarely gets frustrated when making jewelry. The biggest challenge so far has been getting it sold.

But his expectations were exceeded Nov. 23 when Palenik held her annual open house where she sells her wares. And this year, she introduced Arrabito and his new line of jewelry.

"I sold a couple of necklaces and a bunch of earrings," Arrabito says. "I wasn't expecting to sell as much as I did. It was really cool."

Arrabito says he would eventually like to open his own consignment store featuring work from local artists. He cites Palenik as being influential in his plans.

"She's taught me everything about being successful," he says. "She's my mentor."

Palenik, who often teaches jewelry classes but hadn't had an apprentice before Arrabito, says that she's teaching him life skills.

"He's creating, manufacturing, marketing, and starting his own business," she says. "He'll be self-sufficient."

Arrabito is hoping to sell some of his pieces at the Rapscallions gift shop, and is planning to do his senior project on his jewelrymaking experience.

"I have to write a paper, make a product and present in front of a panel of judges," Arrabito says. He says that he's not sure exactly what he'll make for the project, although he and Palenik have discussed making glass cups.

"Michele hasn't made those yet," he says. "I think it would be fun for both of us."

After high school, Arrabito plans to continue making blown glass jewelry and working toward opening his own shop.

"I want a job where I don't have to look like everyone else," he says.

"I feel like I'm different, and I want to stay that way."

Fast Facts

Go online

For information about Devin Arrabito's jewelry, visit www.purplecloud

studio.com.

Land O'Lakes High senior chooses jewelry over 'normal job' 11/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 7:46pm]
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