Good design never goes out of style

By Shea Stanfield
Foothills Focus Contributing Writer

There is a saying that says: “Good design and quality construction never go out of fashion.” Valley jewelry artist Kay Cummins grasped that concept early in life.

Growing up on an apple orchard in Central Wisconsin, Cummins appreciates natures and the beauty of changing seasons. She attributes her “can-do” attitude to her mother, a great nature enthusiast, and a handy father, who would build anything from log cabins to experimental airplanes.

“I grew up among hardworking perfectionists,” says Cummins, who graduated with a degree in business and fashion from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

In the Phoenix art community, she recognizes many instructors and peers who influenced her work. She is especially grateful for master goldsmith, Chris Nelson, who developed the technique of fusing hi-karat gold to iron and steel.

Cummins studied with Nelson for two years before he unexpectedly died in 2017. Grateful for the knowledge she gained from Nelson, she continued on to work in steel and hi-karat gold incorporating vitreous enamel into her work. Cummins continued to take master-level classes in goldsmithing, enamel and stone setting as her personal design abilities took on new forms. 

After leaving the corporate world, in 2000, Cummins reinvented herself and pushed her art. She established herself in the Phoenix arts community and was encouraged to sell her work.

Today, Cummins works from her home studio and is an active member of The Enamellist Society, the Arizona Designer Craftsmen and the Sonoran Arts League. Her whimsical “Out and About Girls” line is bright, happy and uses unexpected found objects. Cummins’ steel and gold work is edgier and has a sculptural feel with sophisticated enamel and stones. Both lines draw from a lifetime of experience with nature and living in an urban center, playful to confident individualist.

Cummins’ work is represented by the Blink Gallery and Studio in Old Town Scottsdale, for information visit 

Each November, Cummins exhibits in the annual Hidden In the Hills Art Studio Tour and Sale, sponsored by the Sonoran Arts League.

Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield