Art Spotlight: Earrings and self-expression


What started as a hobby for senior English major Michelle Ciacchella turned into a creative outlet when she did a project with plaster for her 3D design class. Using leftover materials to make wall decorations, she hoped to sell those art pieces, but it didn’t go quite as planned.

“My major is so time-consuming, and I love it. I wouldn’t be doing any other major, but it engages a very different part of my brain. I needed something to balance out all the logic and arguing that I’m doing on a daily basis,” Ciacchella said.

Then after seeing holiday-themed clay earring designs on Instagram, she thought that she could transfer her abilities to make some herself since she had already made art pieces with clay and other similar materials before. 

Ciacchella drew inspiration for her earring designs from the Baroque and Neo-Classical eras along with florals and Bernini sculptures. Recently, she made a set of earrings inspired by one of her favorite movies “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

She said that she thinks of the earrings as “small representations of you and of what you love [that you can wear].”

For Ciacchella, making art with her hands is a form of self-expression that is different from the art of writing.

When speaking about art as an outlet, she said, “It’s a way for me to express myself outside of writing, which I love, but sometimes I need to do something with my hands in order to keep myself active and to keep my brain engaged in a completely different way.”

At a school like UD, it can be easy to get swept up in all the books we read and the endless pile of essays to write, but Ciachella said that that’s the very reason she had to find something that would serve as a way to balance out her life.

“I needed something where I could just be free and not worry about due dates or managing my time in order to get it done. That really helped me find [a balance] where I could work on my English stuff and have this other outlet where I don’t have to worry about grades or anyone judging it,” she said.

The materials that she works with also have a special kind of meaning to her as a perfectionist. Since clay is so malleable, it’s easy to buff out small mistakes or smoothe it over and then move on.

“There’s a forgiveness in the clay that I really appreciate and that it is something you can hold and cherish. I can see a painting on a wall and say I like it but it’s not something that I can take with me, so having a little memento of something that you’ve created or something that’s important to you is such an important thing to me,” Ciacchella said.

Ciacchella hopes to find an editing job after she graduates while also making and selling earrings part-time, but most importantly she hopes to never lose the joy and fun that comes from hand-making her creations.


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