A career aptitude test in high school ranked “jeweler” high among likely professions Matt Breunig might follow, given his skills and the kind of work he enjoyed.
“I knew I was interested in art,” Matt says, “and I thought jewelry would be a way to make art AND make money.” That was more than 25 years ago.
Backed by his parents’ support, Matt enrolled in the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, and for more than two decades he has used the skills he honed there to perfect his craft.
Matt enjoys collaborating with customers and often finds inspiration from their ideas and custom orders. “I have made many pieces I never would have thought of on my own without customers’ creative ideas,” he says.
His discovery of steampunk culture also inspires him. “My watch-part jewelry has been a great way to think and design outside of the box,” he says. As just a small part of his steampunk-inspired jewelry designs, Matt finds and buys old and broken watches – wristwatches, pocket watches, a variety of timepieces – and takes them apart to use the faces, gears or other components to create unique and eye-catching work.
Perhaps most eye-catching, and a part of his Indiana Artisan application that really caught the eye of the jury panel, is his jewelry made from castings of Indiana insects.
“That added a new dimension to my jewelry,” he says of the grasshoppers, beetles and other dead insects he finds and uses to create molds for metal jewelry work. “People really like the insect pieces, both as-is and embellished as steampunk pieces.”
The first Indiana Artisan to jury in from Wells County, Matt lives in the 3,300-person town of Ossian, about four miles south of Fort Wayne, and he often works from a home studio.
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