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Daunis Fine Jewelry
WINTER CONFETTI BRACELET of woven sterling silver set with blue topaz and iolite in fourteen karat yellow gold.
Daunis Fine Jewelry

Pushing the Design Envelope




“The bench is a place to figure out if you’re going to succeed as a jeweler.”

After nearly thirty years working together, Patricia Daunis-Dunning and her husband, William Dunning, display the kind of comfortable familiarity and creative synergy that make for a great team. Seated in the front office of their three-story walk-up studio and showroom in the heart of Portland, Maine, they tell their shared story.

Born in Maine—she inland, in Auburn, he near the coast, in Brunswick—they both attended the Rhode Island School of Design. While they overlapped a year (Bill was a senior when Patty was in her first year, in 1969), they did not meet until several years later when a match-making friend introduced them. They married on a saltwater farm in Maine during 1974.

Daunis-Dunning intended to study architecture when she got to RISD, but ended up trying several different artforms. In textile design, she learned she could render “really well,” but tying tiny threads did not suit her sensibility. She eventually discovered the metal shop, which master metalsmith Jack Prip directed (he had come to RISD in 1963 as an instructor and ended up launching the undergraduate and graduate programs in metal). Prip and three graduate students took Daunis-Dunning under their wing. She also studied with the pioneering Dutch-born jewelry designer Emmy van Leersum, a “taskmaster” who helped hone her vision.

Bill Dunning had an equally stimulating course of studies at the noted design school. Two teachers in particular stood out: sculptor John Bozarth and painter George Pappas. Dunning credits the former with teaching him how to make objects “turn the corner,” to make them truly three dimensional. Pappas taught the Albers color course, which helped his student develop an eye for arranging gemstones in remarkable combinations.  





Carl Little
Carl Little met with Patricia Daunis-Dunning and William Dunning at their studio in Portland, Maine, as the former was preparing to appear in a Pecha Kucha, the rapid-fire showcase of design ideas, hosted in this case by the Maine Center for Creativity. “I was impressed by her ability to recount, in six minutes and forty seconds, the story of an amazing commission to create a golden egg,” says Little. “Daunis-Dunning and her atelier team, including her husband, worked against the clock to create a masterwork.” Little’s latest book is Hero: The Paintings of Robert Bissell (Pomegranate). He also edited his brother David Little’s first book, Art of Katahdin (Rowman & Littlefield), a collection of images of Maine’s highest mountain.





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