Sister Jean Martin Dawson is a woman of many talents. Among her roles, she has served as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, college site manager and hospital archivist. She is a musician, cantor, photographer, producer of remembrances of deceased Sisters, and chronicler of Mother House happenings.

More recently, the Sister of Charity of Leavenworth (SCL) has added jewelry making to her skill set. She has done this in a way that is environmentally correct.

Sister Jean Martin says that she taught art in the classroom and “has done a little art” over the years. She took up jewelry making as a distraction from some back pain she was experiencing. She discovered the wonders of polymer clay when Marilyn McKibben, Helena, Mont., visited her friend Sister Marie Noel Bruch at the SCL Mother House. Marilyn makes rosaries and necklaces using this media.

Through online tutorials and trial and error, Sister Jean Martin learned techniques of working with polymer clay. She has become creative at swirling colors together for special effects and using stamps for impressions. If she doesn’t like the first product, she rolls the pliable oil-based clay into a ball and starts again.

As creative as she is working with the clay, the SCL has been even more inventive in designing her compact workspace and storage containers. She has recycled and repurposed plastic cookie and cereal containers, ice cube trays, penholders and a candy box for holding supplies. She bakes the clay in a toaster oven placed on a tall bookcase. Her display case is the surface of an old picture frame with jewelry held in place by small finishing nails.

The jewelry making has served the purpose of focusing Sister Jean Martin’s attention on the project at hand and away from any pain she might be experiencing. An added bonus is that she gets to use a part of her brain that she says wasn’t challenged as she channels her creative energies into the jewelry making.

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