TRENDER: Jewelry Maker Mark Kaplan

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


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Still not over that election--Providence jewelry maker Mark Kaplan.

Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, jewelry maker Mark Kaplan, whose Hanging Chad Election necklace is the perfect gift on Primary Day. 

Local cred: Moved to Rhode Island "about 20 years ago." Lives and works on Benefit Street in Providence.

What brought you into this realm of the arts?
I've been interested in metalsmithing since I was a child. I've always been invested in the arts--fine details, hand skills was always something I enjoyed doing. My first merit badge from Boy Scouts was in metalsmithing.

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Never forget: Mark Kaplan's Hanging Chad Election necklace.

The piece of yours that caught our eye is your Hanging Chad Election necklace. What inspired this work?
I was outraged by the election where Al Gore was defeated. The first sentence of my listing on Etsy kind of sums it up. "You remember this election? Well, I still haven't gotten over it." The same story holds true and can happen again in the future if we are not vigilant in taking care of our own responsibilities.

You call yourself a metalsmith. How does that differ from a jeweler?
My self-identification these days is "jewelry maker" because that's basically what I do. I look cross-eyed at people who call themselves jewelry designers. Those are people who often have very little to do with the actual creation of their product. I'm proud of the fact that I have complete control, from initial design to the final polishing and packaging of the articles.

What is the most gratifying thing about working in RI?
This is a relatively small state and an insular community. It's something to be walking down the street and bump into a total stranger I've never met before and see him wearing my work. That's an electrifying feeling. When I see people I know wearing my stuff I give them a hug. There's a librarian at RISD, a demure sort of an individual. I ran into her and she was wearing my earrings; I gave her a hug and I think it scandalized her.

The most frustrating thing?

The most frustrating thing about working in RI is the standard of living has been decreasing due to our national economic environment. However, that's a plus for me because my work is not very expensive. I work in sterling silver, and so my work is affordable to the common man. I think that's why i'm doing well on that little Etsy site. It tickles me how successful it is. 

Are you voting tomorrow?
Absolutely 100%. And I urge everyone else to do the same.

To see more of Mark Kaplan's work, visit his Etsy store, here.

For more Arts coverage, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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