MADE ON ISLAND
Captures Beauty in Titanium and Fire
By Tessa Permar
Jeweler Kenneth Pillsworth’s meticulous technique and elegant geometric styles have captured local and national interest for years. His pieces feature a range of techniques and materials, yet each is distinct to Kenneth. Signature styles include oval pendant necklaces evoking Vineyard landscapes in patterned teal and earth-tone metals. His hinge bracelets feature layers of mixed-metal shapes that interlock like the inner workings of a clock. And his “flame-paintings” that capture sky-scapes in vivid sunset color are created using only a tiny flame on sheets of titanium.
Whether it’s a cuff, pair of earrings or necklace, custom wedding band, or even a flame-painting, all his work displays a delicacy and Island Jeweler intricacy that belies the Kenneth Pillsworth strength of their materials.
Growing up in Kingston, NY, Kenneth didn’t find much inspiration in his schoolwork, but he loved to paint. Through a chance meeting, his dad connected Kenneth with a jeweler in need of an apprentice, where he was introduced to jewelry-making. Kenneth moved to New Paltz to continue his painting studies, but after a stay on the Vineyard with a friend, he decided to pursue jewelry on-Island full time.
He landed two impactful apprenticeships, first with Paul D’Olympia and then Richard Hamilton at Claudia Jewelry in Edgartown. During the day Kenneth worked for Richard, who introduced him to new techniques and metals like niobium. In the evening, with his favorite music on rotation, Kenneth honed and developed his signature styles. He shares, it was “one of the best things that happened and I’m still thankful for it today.”
His jewelry can be found at the Artisans Festival shows and at the Field Gallery in West Tisbury as well as galleries in Iowa, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Despite having honed many popular signature styles, Kenneth continues to explore and push the boundaries of what’s familiar. A couple of early cubist paintings in shades of silver-gray and black hang on his studio wall, framed in rigid zinc. These early works transitioned naturally to the sharp yet delicate geometry of his jewelry. Kenneth now harnesses fire to create his vivid flame paintings and their stark wood frames, blackened in the Japanese technique of shou sugi ban. “I’m always thinking ahead about what I’m going to be doing next,” he shares.
You can see more of Kenneth’s work at the Field Gallery in West Tisbury, seasonally at the Artisans Festivals, and on the web at: kennethpillsworth.com.