Work by more than 100 Artisans inside new Carmel more

Metal Steampunk Jewelry
Matthew Breunig

People often look at my jewelry and say “you must have a lot of time on your hands” I like to think I spend a lot of time using my hands.

Matt Breunig has been a collaborator much longer than he has been a jeweler. A career aptitude test in high school ranked “jeweler” high among likely professions he might follow, given his skills and the kind of work he enjoyed. “I knew I was interested in art,” Matt said, “and I thought jewelry would be a way to make art AND make money.” That was more than 25 years ago.

He convinced his parents to take him to look at jewelry schools, and they supported him in his interest. He enrolled in the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, and for more than two decades he has used the skills he honed there to perfect his craft.

Collaboration, however, is a personal skill, and Matt hones it regularly with customers. Asked what inspires him, he said, “Custom orders. I often get inspiration from customer design ideas. I have made many pieces I never would have thought of on my own without customers’ creative ideas.”

He went on to say his recent discovery of steampunk culture inspires him. “My watch part jewelry has been a great way to think and design outside of the box,” he said. As just a small part of his steampunk-inspired jewelry designs, Matt finds and buys old and broken watches – wristwatches, pocket watches, a variety of timepieces – and takes them apart to use the faces, gears or other components to create unique and eye-catching work.

Perhaps most eye-catching, and a part of his Indiana Artisan application that really caught the eye of the jury panel, is his jewelry made from castings of Indiana insects. “That added a new dimension to my jewelry,” he said of the grasshoppers, beetles and other dead insects he finds and uses to create molds for metal jewelry work. “People really like the insect pieces, both as-is and embellished as steampunk pieces.”

Ever the collaborator, Matt was encouraged to become an Indiana Artisan by a fellow Artisan. And why? “I thought it would really help with networking,” he said. “It was a surprising, but welcome, honor. Being the first Indiana Artisan in my county made it extra special,” said the Wells County native who lives in the 3,300-person town of Ossian, about four miles south of Fort Wayne.

In Ossian, Matt often works from a home studio, and he sounds like many Indiana Artisans who use phrases like ‘being in the zone’ or ‘hearing the muse’ or ‘almost like meditation’ when talking about their processes. “While I am working on a project, I often feel I am really ‘into’ my mind. It is fast forwarding to the end, and I really want to see the completed piece.” Completed pieces don’t last long.

Matt’s jewelry is increasingly sought-after, largely because of his customer service and the relationship he develops with customers wanting custom work. He says many of his designs “come from my brain or the brains of my customers. I often keep odd hours, staying up late listening to music, in my own world, creating. People often look at my jewelry and say ‘you must have a lot of time on your hands.’” Says the man whose high school career aptitude test launched an exceptional jewelry-making career, “I like to think I spend a lot of time using my hands.”