The Bronze Jewelers started with the induvidual artistry of Dennis Blankenheim back in the 60's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dennis followed a wide range of creative arts including glass blowing, stained glass work, and leatherwork before finally opening his own leatherworking studio in Milwaukee.
There he was known for his fringed jackets and hand bags that could double as wall art.
Once he was on the road doing one of the first Renaissance Festivals in the area, he learned to use an oxy-acetylene torch to flow bronze into shapes of rings and buckles for his belts. He worked for several years with other like-minded artists before moving to Key West, Florida in 1976. Part artist and part engineer, he continues to produce both the product and the tools for our business.
In 1980 his partner, Fran Doll, moved to Key West, from Wisconsin, where she had earned a Master's Degree in Psychiatric Social Work. She had followed this career for 8 years in Milwaukee, Australia, and Wausau, Wisconsin. Finding that her creative self was not being honored in that profession, she used her people skills to help Dennis sell at numerous art shows in Florida. Finally, in 1983, Dennis taught her to torch as well. He was overheard to say that "Fran was an artist waiting to happen!"
As a partnership, they have been working at art shows and Renaissance Festivals across the country ever since. Notable among these have been 13 years at the Texas Renaissance Festival north of Houston, Tx, and
they continue to do the Minnesota Renaissance Festival after 29 years. They also participate in the Carolina Renaissance Festival since the 2nd year of its existence 21 years ago.
We also can be found during the winter season at local Florida keys art shows and at the famous Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square in Key West.
It was here we connected with our apprentice Kara Balarezo. Kara started with her mom as a valued customer in her teenage years and began selling with us in her 20's. Then, of course, the timing was right and the stars aligned, and she became our apprentice. Each year her participation in the business and craft has expanded. At this point, she is doing her own art shows in the Carolina area and helping us at Minnesota and Charlotte. She is also taking care of our ETSY.COM website.
We love to make jewelry of all kinds. We mostly use bronze, nickel silver, and copper. We have also used sterling silver in rings, bracelets and earrings.
We currently produce hair combs, barrettes, bun covers(snoods) and hair sticks. These come in many colors designs and sizes.
If you have an idea for a design, let us know and we can discuss it. Not many artists want to expend the time and energy and frustration to do this. If your idea is not feasible, we will let you know. All custom work will be more expensive than our usual production, but let's talk about it.