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When Ricky Lee sits at his jewelry bench, he’s focused on one thing – the piece he’s working on.
“I’m concentrating on the weaves and coils, thinking about the design, in my head, as everything else melts into the background,” says the Prince Edward Island resident who creates fashion jewelry out of recycled materials.
In a nearby display case there are copper wire-wrapped necklaces he has made using sea glass. In another, there are rings and pendants he has fashioned from silver plate knives, forks and spoons.
At the bench, his current project involves a china plate.
“I’m recycling a piece of porcelain, turning it into a pendant. Often people will have one cup or one plate that someone has left in the family. And, if it’s a large family they don’t have to fight over the large plate anymore. Bring it to me and I can make jewelry out of it. So, everyone can have an heirloom piece.”
His work here on P.E.I. had already attracted fans, including Alycia McGuire.
“He’s a neat guy and he makes neat things,” says the Charlottetown resident, who purchased a pair of earrings and a necklace made from hematite from the artisan.
“He’s a wonderful guy, very obliging, so if I don’t like that chain, he’d change it to another one.”
Making sure his customers are happy is one of Lee's main concerns.
He also puts a lot of emphasis on the process of creating each piece of jewelry.
For example, as he shows a dragon’s eye pendant he has just completed, he explains that it started out as a cabochon, an oval of clear glass, which is cut and polished.
“You start out by painting a pupil in the back of the glass. Then you apply paint and you remove paint. By adding several layers of paint, you can create a sense of depth in the final piece.”
Lee is always mindful of the materials he uses.
“I hand-paint dragon eyes using recycled nail polish. Even the wire I use (to decorate it) has been stripped out of old machinery.”
Lee also transforms the seashells he finds washed up on the shore.
“I’ve fallen in love with lighthouses and P.E.I. beach scenes, so I’ve started painting them, incorporating them into signed pieces of jewelry art.”
Recycling is a policy that’s important to him.
“We’ve become such a throw-away society. And that grieves me. Most things are made to break and be replaced. And I believe that so much of it is greed. That’s because we have the technology to make cars to last longer. We have the technology to make more fuel-efficient automobiles.”
It's a policy that Lee has followed faithfully since moving to Marshfield, P.E.I., from Texas two and a half years ago.
“When I discovered sea glass, that’s what led me into wire wrapping because each piece of sea glass is like a jewel. Then I thought I could have more fun by making things a little more unique by adding some different weaves.”
Making his home on P.E.I. has made him happy.
“The people on P.E.I. have welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I’m one of them. I understand I’ll always be from away but, as long as you let me stay that’s OK, because this place is paradise.”
Ricky Lee fast facts
-Originally from Lamesa, Texas, he’s happy to call Prince Edward Island home.
- An exhibit of his jewelry and stained-glass is ongoing at the Manse at 14155 St. Peters Rd. Admission is free. For information call 902-213-2861 as space is limited.
- Check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Magical-Memories-Jewelry-Stained-Glass-Gallery-Gifts-by-Ricky-Lee-103843794367704 or website at https://lostntexas2423.wixsite.com/mysite?fbclid=IwAR3WG8lQQeLbIVBj1VXj7xr2vA7-ZIrwTnaXv0Fl6R925-GFThMI1aqw3BI.
- He’s the partner of P.E.I. singer-songwriter Tim Archer and together they host concerts at the Manse, a restored 1830s former church manse.