About the Craftsman

Meet the Jeweler

Dennis Creaser is a native of Maine. He was born in the small coastal town of Boothbay Harbor in 1966. Early on, he was enthralled by dinosaurs and fossils and accumulated piles of books and rocks before one of his aunts introduced him to the concept of gem cutting when he was around 12 years old. She taught him how to cut basic cabochons and as quick as he could save some money (and beg the rest from his parents), he bought his own cabbing equipment and began his "career" as a gem cutter. When he became good enough, he began selling his stones through local stores.

After several years, his interest waned somewhat as he went through High School. Deciding to become a musician, he attended Jazz school upon graduating and received an Associate’s degree in 1986. At some point during his brief stint as a music student, he found himself walking through a Maine Mall one evening. A jewelry store window caught his eye for some reason and he investigated. Behind the window was an aquamarine gem set in a gold ring. The stone was from Albany, Maine of all places and the value of the piece was intriguing to say the least. He thought to himself "This gem was found right here in Maine... wouldn’t it be the absolute coolest thing to actually find something like that?" The next week, he started doing research in the college library and was totally amazed at the sheer number of gemstone types that came from his own state.

As soon as the snow was melted enough to show bear ground on the coast, he set off for the Mecca of all Maine gem mines: the Dunton Quarry, the world famous tourmaline mine located a crow’s flap from the Sunday River ski resort in Newry. He waded through hip-deep snow, climbing the small mountain in sneakers with a gym bag full of hammers and chisels, driven by the naive thought of gem crystals of all types lying in plain view on the mine dumps, ripe for the picking. At the top of the hill, small sections of the mine dump were cleared of snow and in one of these patches he found a small, ugly, shattered crystal of beryl. Not quite blue enough to call aquamarine and certainly not clean enough to cut, it nonetheless fueled an already raging passion for gem collecting and he greedily put in in his gym bag where it was further shattered by the hammers and chisels. Undaunted by its worthlessness, he scrabbled around in the dumps some more and was shortly rewarded with another nasty, ugly beryl specimen and a broken schorl tourmaline. Unknown to him, he was actually collecting in the Nevel Quarry, not the Dunton Quarry and so found no colored elbaite (gem tourmaline) that day. As it was getting late at this point, he called the day a major success and waded through the snow back down the mountain, after a short and fruitless attack on the wall of the quarry.

A week later, he was back and after an short episode with minor frostbite on one of his feet, he by chance stumbled upon the Dunton Quarry. The mine dumps faced south and so were free from snow, he was happy to see and, as he sat on a rock to rest, a glint of green caught his eye. At his feet, sparkling in the afternoon sun, was a tiny shard of bright green gemmy tourmaline. He blinked in amazement, it was breathtakingly beautiful, despite it’s minuscule size. A few inches away from it was an equally lovely, equally microscopic flake of pink tourmaline... in fact, as he got on his hands and knees and peered closely, nose practically touching the ground, he could see dozens of little slivers of gem tourmaline, the area was simply covered with them. Ecstatic, he collected a thimbleful in a short while and returned home as the light faded again. Later, drooling over his hoard of tourmaline dust like a pirate admiring his latest plunder, Dennis realized what he wanted to do with his life.

Upon Graduation from Jazz School (University of Maine at Augusta), he applied to Arizona State University. Why this school? It was located in a warm place, it was completely different than anything he had ever experienced, it had a decent geology department and the close proximity of his Grandparents added a necessary safety net. He was accepted. Geology was hard. The mathematics were brutal. Chemistry alone finished him off as a geology major and he frantically considered any and all options. Upon closer examination of the ASU course guide, he found an interesting class located in the fine art section; "Beginning Jewelry". In fact, there seemed to be an actual major in jewelry available. He went to a counselor and inquired about changing his major to Fine Art. There was no problem what so ever and the next semester he was a jewelry major.

It was here that Dennis first began to learn about the various art styles as they were developed through history. His personal favorite was the Art Nouveau style embraced by Tiffany and LaLique in the late 1800’s- early 1900’s. It’s exquisite, graceful, perfect flowing language of implied organics and suggested life motivated and inspired him, reinforcing his developing conviction that Art was meant to be beautiful and nothing more or less.

Three years later, he graduated, one of the top three students in the Jewelry School (not 3rd, but one of the top three). During the summers, he and his brother Pete had worked as wholesale gem dealers, buying rough Maine gemstones off various miners and processing them into finished goods which were then sold to retail jewelers at a fairly decent profit. Dennis had lined up a full time job with one of the mining companies and went to work for them as a gem cutter immediately upon graduation. It was here that he began to experiment with various cutting styles, developing his own gem designs for improved effect and simplicity. He also got a tantalizing taste of successful amethyst and tourmaline mining at the Saltman Amethyst prospect in Sweden, Maine and at the famous Mount Mica Quarry in Paris.

Eventually, he experienced a slight career change when a local jewelry store offered him the position as their chief jeweler. It was during this time that Dennis furthered his talents and skills at jewelry design. In order to freely continue his career, Dennis left the store to work for himself in 1996. Since then, he has been creating a line of jewelry in his personal style of Art Nouveau influenced contemporary design.

Reflections of the Artist

I have a personal creed and it is this:

I believe that Art is the tangible manifestation of Beauty, intentionally created by sentient lifeforms who do so with talent and competence. This rules out most Folk art, political art and all paintings done by elephants or monkeys.

I believe that the primary purpose of Art is to instill positive feelings in those who behold it. Art transcends culture and has multigenerational appeal. Most controversially, simply picking up a charcoal pencil and scribbling on a piece of paper does not make one an artist any more than slapping a band-aid on someone's cut makes one a doctor.

My goal as an Artist is to create Art that is cherished and enjoyed on an heirloom level. I want nothing more than for my art to be gazed upon and smiled fondly at even by the grandchildren of its original owner.

What I love most about what I do is the fact that jewelry is almost exclusively a reflection of positive emotion, gracefully and lovingly wrapped in precious metal and sealed with the crisp, clean fire of a gemstone kiss.

Each piece I create is an eternal symbol of someone caring for someone else. In this often uncaring world that we live in, what could be better than that?

--Dennis Creaser