The Tools that Won Sara Dudzinsky’s Heart

This jeweler’s favorite part of the design process is getting to play with fire.

At first, constructing jewelry was plain boring for Sara Dudzinsky, who makes stunning, petite pieces out of her Portland, Oregon, studio. “When I was in school, I remember taking a production class and hating it—and thinking I could never make the same thing a million times in a row,” she explains. “But that’s what I’m doing, and I love it.” Now, she finds the intensity—and the hard-core tools—tremendously alluring. These are four devices that she can’t wait to play with day in and day out.

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Pliers: “I use them for everything, even just folding bezels around a stone. I’m very adept with pliers. I use two at once a lot—one in each hand.”

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Jeweler’s Saw: “That’s used for cutting little pieces out. When I make a ring with a crystal, I form the bezel around the crystal, solder it down onto a flat sheet, and then cut out the band.”

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A stack of some of Sara’s rings, one with a dangling crystal.

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Hammers: “A lot of my necklaces have a little geometric-shape detail, and I’ve started to do some free-form bangles. For those, I take wire, bend it into a shape with pliers, solder the ends, and hammer them flat. I have some shapes that I’m going off of, but I like each one to be unique.”

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Torch and Striker: “I get the tank for my torch from a welder’s supply store, so it looks kind of like a cast-iron helium tank. It has a little regulator on it and a torch chip. So I turn it on, strike the striker, and out comes the flame. That’s probably my favorite part of doing the metal work—the fire. It’s a significant part of the process because almost everything that I do has at least one soldered joint.”

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Sara Dudzinsky Shops the Pacific Northwest

Locals know best—and this one has killer taste.

Sara Dudzinsky, the designer behind Better Late Than Never, is a Portland girl. She also makes some of the most surprising but understated jewelry we’ve ever seen—tiny, rough crystal earrings and slender hammered rings. Which makes her exactly the sort of person you want showing you around her own city and the upper left coast’s other much-loved locale, Seattle. These are the six places where she always finds the best stuff (aside from the stores that sell her own work, course).

PORTLAND

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The Golden Rule
“There are a lot of great shops in the 811 East Burnside Building. Wendy, who runs this place, always has a ton of amazing vintage clothing for sale, and she does a rotating gallery exhibition. All the people who work there are volunteers—they just really want to give as much money to the artists that they’re showing as possible.” (goldenruleportland.com)

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Sword+Fern
“On that same block as The Golden Rule, there’s a beautifully curated place called Sword+Fern. Emily Baker, the owner, has all sorts of home goods and accessories, and she also has her own jewelry line, which is awesome. It’s funny: Right now, we’re using some similar materials—crystals, seashells, stuff like that—but our work is so different.”
(swordandfern.com)

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Blackbird
“Blackbird has a location in Seattle and one in Portland. They have a little bit of womenswear but great menswear—and they also carry a lot of great body products. I’m obsessed with Malin+Goetz, and they carry all of their stuff. The guys that run it are super nice. They are really into chatting with you—it’s a very personalized shopping experience.” (blackbirdballard.com)

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Canoe
“Canoe is fantastic. We just bought Hearth ceramics for our house, and we went there and picked them all out. I have my eye on this crazy, fancy mechanical pencil for my boyfriend, and they have some really amazing wood-slice cutting boards. They have a great online store, too.” (canoeonline.net)

SEATTLE

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Totokaelo
“Totokaelo has a super clean aesthetic—very modern and white. Last time I was there, the jewelry was hung up on the wall with colored tape—literally just taped straight to the wall. It was really unique. I have a Shabd bag—a tie-dye one with a rope handle—that I bought there.” (totokaelo.com)

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Lambs Ear Shoes
“If you want some amazing shoes, this is the place to go. The owner introduced me to LD Tuttle. I haven’t thrown down for a pair yet, but I’ve been obsessed with the line for a while.” (lambsearshoes.com)

Come back tomorrow for Sara’s amaze, made-in-Portland edition! And get on our email list so you don’t miss it.

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