Kentucky Tourism

Swanson, Nora — Nora Swanson Arts

Berea, KY


copper jewelry

Nora Swanson’s art career started with making jewelry with beads, and creating works in ceramics and batik at the age of seven. A progressive primary school education and two very insightful art teachers gave Nora a creative push early in life.  She went on to receive her BA degree from Metropolitan State College with an emphasis in Fine Arts Management and Fine Art. Since the 1980s Nora has worked professionally in a broad range of art mediums, with an emphasis on diverse materials.


Having worked for theatre and television, Nora learned many crafts as a scene painter and costume designer. Painting scenery gave her the chance to become adept at faux finishes and texture, a skill that she brings to her current career in metals.


Most of the copper used in her jewelry comes from repurposed scrap sheet metal from sources in Kentucky. She uses the cold patina process using various ingredients to give the unusual visual texture and color to her jewelry. She hand cuts her shapes and hammers them over forms to create surface texture. All pieces are finished with a hand sprayed clear coat acrylic sealer. Nora adds, “Copper is bio-static, which means that no bacteria will grow on it, so I use copper to create the earring wires instead of sterling.”


Works by Nora Swanson can be found at her working studio in Old Town Berea, Ky. and at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.