Making Jewelry, Making a Life

By Ashley Shickler,

Staff reporter

Marco Rivera, a Teaching major, designs jewelry located at the Fuse makersplace, a design community center partnered with CNM.

His favorite thing about working in the jewelry studio is the opportunities of professional development that come along with working with entrepreneurs and artists, he said.


“I really love working here,” he said.

Rivera’s goal would be to become a jewelry casting instructor for Fuse because most of his interest lies in a jewelry process called casting.

Casting is when you create a wax mold and then pour molten (liquid) metal into the mold to make a cast. This is a three-day process, he said.

Casting involves a lot of chemistry, and to master the casting process, it takes a lot of trial and error and collaboration with experienced casting jewelers, he said.

Rivera learned this process at a class that was offered on campus summer of 2018. Although Rivera has still not mastered the process, he is enjoying the practice, he said.


This semester there are five different jewelry program classes and there are people on the wait list for it so it’s becoming a bigger program, he said.

Rivera’s favorite piece that he has made is a crown ring because it is a good example of 3-D printing applications with jewelry which is another process Rivera enjoys, he said.

“I learned how to 3-D model on my own because there are so many creative and interesting people here that inspire this kind of learning,” he said.


Recently, students submitted their pieces, priced them out, and made packages for them at the Merry Marker Maker Fair. They had a whole table of just CNM students, he said.

Rivera would also like to see the PNM pavilion shipping containers outside the Fuse, be made into a jewelry gallery to be able to show the student’s work and get people excited about the program, he said.

“This is a great program and community full of collaborative people that really foster self-learning,” he said.

Two local suppliers, Rio Grande Jewelry and Turquoise skies, supply equipment and donate things to the program, provide tours and often hire people within, he said.

“I changed my degree so many times because my interests change, but now I realize I can have a lot of interests and would still like to finish something just to grow my discipline skills,” he said.

Rivera started the jewelry program in January of 2018 and began the teaching program in October of 2018.

Rivera is working twenty hours in the jewelry studio, taking 18 credits while working as a DJ with styles DJ Services, and is a caretaker through Transitional lifestyle communities for his brother, a behavioral health center, he said.

“For me a big thing in my life is finding passion and whatever makes a person passionate because that’s what makes you the happiest. I think everyone should learn that exploring their interests is what life is all about. Finding a single career and finding fulfillment in that job for one’s whole life is not sustainable for happiness. Learn to value change,” he said.

Rivera has been at CNM since 2016, and changed his degrees a few times, from chemistry to liberal arts, to teaching, he said.

Rivera plans on finishing the jewelry certificate program and graduating with a degree in teaching in 2020.

After graduating, Rivera would like to go into design work at UNM’s architect program to learn other skills that Fuse currently teaches, such as business, furniture, and design in general, he said.

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