Nicole Henry ‘18 mentions a ‘70s sitcom in describing a former job on an assembly line in a pharmaceutical plant, and hopes the person she’s speaking with understands the reference.
“I basically sat in front of a giant magnifying glass and checked every vial that came down, like that Laverne & Shirley thing,” she said. “It makes me happy that I can make that reference and you get it, because all of my classmates are 20.”
Henry became a student at Moore after being out in the working world and getting married. She’s a Fine Arts major, and last semester received the Penny Fox Internship Fellowship. Being picky about details at the pharmaceutical job helped this nontraditional student at her summer internship at Bario Neal Jewelry in Philadelphia.
“If somebody gives you an heirloom ring and says, ‘I want these stones to be redesigned into something new and lovely so my partner and I can have this wonderful thing that’s gonna be super special to us,’ you want to make sure you get all of that right,” she said.
A RESPONSIBLE COMPANY
Bario Neal is known for its handmade jewelry for any gender using ethically sourced materials. The company purchases from small-scale miners, uses reclaimed metal, traceable gemstones and responsible labor. Henry’s job there was to clean up and rework some of the company’s pieces.
“It’s collection pieces that have been discontinued and some things they’ve experimented with and decided not to release,” she said. “I rework it into something a little bit different, and then they’ll have it as a sale.”
Manuela Jimenez, studio coordinator and jewelry designer at Bario Neal, was Henry’s supervisor.
“She was a very well-prepared student, so she was able to do everything pretty easily, but at the same time the idea was to provide her with not only design suggestions and for her to understand the Bario Neal aesthetic, but for her to learn new techniques in jewelry, which we apply every day here at the studio,” Jimenez said.
Tools Henry used included things as simple as a Scotch-Brite pad, “because that’s actually a good way to get a matte finish on something.”
“Other times I might need to anneal the metal to soften it and then hammer it to reshape it, and then pickle it, clean it and put it in a tumbler,” she said.
Henry appreciates the company’s commitment to being environmentally and socially responsible.
“It’s not just the idea of marriage equality, and it’s not just the idea of anybody can wear jewelry if they want to, it’s also ‘Where does our metal come from? Has it been sourced from a recyclable source?’” she said.
THE NONTRADITIONAL STUDENT
Henry’s path to Moore was untraditional. She met her husband-to-be, Craig, at the pharmaceutical plant in Grand Island, New York. He decided he’d had enough of that and wanted to go to graduate school to study pharmacy. The couple moved to Philadelphia, he got his degree from Temple University and got a job. Then it was her turn to go to school. She had been interested in creating jewelry since she was in high school.
“I felt, ‘Well, art school is good and there’s no shortage of great art schools to pick from in Philadelphia,’” she said. She looked at a couple of other institutions, but then saw Moore’s small metals studio.
“I felt like this is where I should be,” she said. “It felt right to me.”
She found that she kept gravitating toward working on a small scale.
“I like the idea of craft and function, and something that can be held,” she said. “I have a pin that I made at Moore that I really liked. I was happy how it turned out visually, but my favorite part was when I picked it up, because the finish and how it felt, that’s what got the reaction from my classmates.”
The fellowship allowed Henry to concentrate on the internship.
"I got to see much more than I would have had I only been able to do it one or two days a week," she said. "I could have missed out on seeing direct interactions with customers. I could get a better idea of how things worked, seeing some projects progress through the process from initial order to delivery."
"I love working with these people," she said. "They've been really helpful with teaching me."
Her goal is to become a jeweler.
“I do want to make my own stuff and see what I can get with that, and if it ends up that I can make a full-on career out of that, awesome,” she said.