Wubbers University Instructor Spotlight: Jeff Fulkerson

This the first in a series of interviews with Wubbers University instructors.  Our teachers are masters of jewelry making techniques, and exhibit endless vision in creating new jewelry pieces.  We are so pleased to be able to offer their classes to you.  


Lexi Erickson: How long have you been making jewelry?

Jeff Fulkerson: I started making jewelry when I was 16.

Tell us about your jewelry hero, and why do they inspire you?

My jewelry heroes are the old Navajo silver smiths that created such incredible jewelry under the most primitive conditions.  Modern day heroes would be Jesse Monongya and Richard Tsosie.

What’s your favorite studio snack?

I don’t snack when I’m working on jewelry.  The most I would have would be something to drink, probably iced tea.

Do you have a favorite quote?

My favorite quote goes something like this; “You’ll never be an artist until you lose the fear of being wrong.”  I don’t know who said it, but it’s so true.

If you weren’t a jeweler, what would you be doing?

Building houses.

What are your top three favorite tools?

My three favorite tools in no particular order are my torch, flex shaft, and my jeweler’s saw.  And my rolling mill.  And my disc cutter.  And there’s this one little needle file that I REALLY like…

Do you listen to music while you are designing, and if so, what’s playing in your studio now?

I listen to 60’s rock when I’m in the studio.  Of course, I can’t hear it whenever I’m using a loud tool or soldering, but it’s just nice background noise.

What was the first piece you made?

I got a book that showed you how to make a silver ring set with a cabochon, so I read the book, and 4 hours later I had a ring!

What was “the one that got away,” jewelry-wise?

I don’t know that I’ve had something ‘get away’.  I just know that there’s way too many things that I haven’t had the time to make.

Do you have one single piece you made that is your favorite?  If so, please show us or describe it.

It’s called “Across the Universe” and it won first place in its class at the San Diego County Fair about 6 years ago, as well as the Coordinator’s Cup, Best Single Jewelry Piece and the Courtney McGowen Design Award.

What’s your color palette?

Colors, colors, colors.  I love earth tones, like fossilized dinosaur bone and petrified wood.  I also love blues and greens and purples.

What’s your favorite gemstone? 

My favorite gemstone is turquoise.  Nothing even comes close.

What do you do for relaxation?

I make chains.  Usually in the winter, sitting watching TV at night.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received from your mentor? 

There is a point of no return.  Sometimes you have to admit you just made a piece of scrap metal and you need to start over.  And it’s OK.

Is that at the same advice you would pass on to a student?

I would certainly pass that along to all who would listen because let’s face it, some of us jewelers are a little perfectionistic and maybe even a little competitive, and we hate to “give up” on a piece.

What gives you the greatest joy in making jewelry?

The best feeling in the world is when you make a

piece for someone and they see it for the first time and they’re blown away.  I had one customer tell me that the necklace was “just me.”  That’s about as validating as you can get.

I hope my jewelry speaks to the person who’s wearing it.  If it moves them, I’m happy.

What gives you the greatest joy in making jewelry?

Keep making jewelry!

Got any funny jewelry story to share?

After all these years it’s funny, but it wasn’t funny to me then.  I was a college student teaching silver smithing classes at the San Diego Museum of Man during the summer and had just scraped my pennies together to buy a big mill file for taking off large amounts of material fast.  This one student had a river rock she wanted to make into a bracelet, so she took the file and started ‘filing’ the bottom of the stone to flatten it out.  Both sides of the file.  Needless to say, the file was completely ruined!  As I said, it wasn’t funny then…


Jeff Fulkerson online:




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