Growing up in Long Island, New York, Owner, Debra, is well-accustomed to a fast-paced society. Debra, her older brother Dennis and her younger sister Teri, all agree that Long Island was a fun place to grow up! Mom (AKA Blossom) was a “stay at home mom” and did a wonderful job bringing up three kids.
Dad (AKA Don) owned three gas stations — two Shell and a Sinclair Station with the dinosaur out front. No, the dinosaur was not real!
Due to that “Ozzie and Harriet” type scenario, Debra believes that she and her siblings were really lucky having their mom at home. A fun day out to see Dad, meant getting all decked out to go to the gas station. Now, visualize this… In those days, a full service gas station was quite competitive. Believe it or not, Dennis and Debra would actually wash the cars front and back windows themselves. Teri was too little at the time. The siblings stood to the side of each vehicle with their goofy looking grins!
“What were we thinking?, asked Debra. “What the heck did we look like?” Well, long story short, the siblings worked hard for the $.25 cent tips they got back then. Back in the day, gas was a mere $39.9 cents a gallon! When the gas crisis came along, owning three stations became very stressful for our Dad.
On Sunday mornings the family would all sit down after a great breakfast and copy the comics, and judge who did the best job. Copy talent is truly the gateway to image transfer. When your brain sees an image, it sends a signal toward the pencil. The ultimate result is a carbon copy of the comic itself, if you should be so lucky!
After Debra’s family moved to Florida, with the exception of Dennis, who was of age and stayed in NY, Debra began to create jewelry from feathers and wire. As a young teen, Debra supplied multiple stores with her creations.
All of a sudden feather jewelry was seen in Gayfers, Maas Bros and Burdines department stores. Debra thought she was so totally unique and no one else in the entire universe had ever created these items. Hence her creativity was a bit stifled. In the mid 80’s and early 90’s Debra’s fascination with clay really evolved. Her training at Crealdi in Winter Park, Winter Park Jewelry Fabrication and UCF, helped Debra evolve into the artisan she is today.
Debra’s happiness transformed the clay, along with the human element. Debra created clay butterflies smiling, the banana man in his chariot plus many clay sculptures including wheel-thrown vases. Turquoise and different cabochons were pressed in to the clay, while it was still wet. They were then glued in after glaze firing.
For several years Debra apprenticed with the late great Judaic Sculptor and Metal Smith, Estelle Tasman. She assisted her with mold making, creation of ceramic glazes, the soldering metal sculptures and sketching to scale. Debra was able to help Estelle with many fabrication techniques.
While Estelle Tasman passed in 1995, her Judaic sculptures and metal work can still be admired in fine art galleries in New York, Colorado and Arizona. Estelle Tasman will always be missed. Estelle’s magnetizing personality and love for Judaism lives on in her sculptures.
During a wonderful trip to the wine country in Napa Valley with her handsome husband Bruce, a large bucket of turquoise stones took Debra’s interest. She brought back with her, fond memories of a relaxing vacation with her honey and a large amount of turquoise stones. Debra couldn’t wait to cut, shape and polish the stones.
Her husband mentioned that, “At some point you might need to make the choice between working with clay or jewelry.” Once again, he was right. Many years of classes, work shops and tons of fabrication evolved into a wonderful transition regarding a love for metal and stones.
Debra’s clay expertise is now a real asset, and today she transforms wax models into mini sculptures caste in silver and gold. She works diligently on jewelry repairs and custom orders, while increasing inventory in her North Tampa studio.
First and foremost, Debra firmly believes it’s important to be the best friend that she can be to her wonderful husband. As a proud mother of only son Chad, and a grandmother of five, Debra still finds time for jewelry fabrication!