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J. Andrew Oudin's bio

I have been designing and crafting in a variety of media for over eighteen years. My childhood education was unique and heavily focused on art, science, and philosophy and included training in woodworking, fine art, and engineering. I began making engagement jewelry when I was fifteen out of a severe curiosity which my parents were generous enough to encourage. Over the next couple of years I began making enough money on my jewelry that I could purchase more tools and equipment. I continued working in wood and metal and built many of the items of furniture, fixtures and tools I needed to pursue my projects. I attended the University of North Texas where I enjoyed studying under metalsmiths including Kaki Crowell-Hilde, Harlan Butt, Ana M. Lopez, James Thurman, and J. Shalene Henley. Each of these award-winning artists have a variety of work in museum collections around the world and it was an honor and tons of fun to learn from them. 


In 2009 while studying at UNT I began building ukuleles out of an urgent curiosity for the instrument. I would often work on ukuleles while attending metals or sculpture classes, which met with varying degrees of irritation from my professors. I persuaded my sculpture professor to count my instruments as class projects, but failed to mollify my metals prof, so in that class my luthiery endeavors had to go into stealth mode. I ultimately succeeded in completing four instruments in two years of metals class despite it all being primarily an underground operation. From the very beginning my ukuleles were incubated in a jewelrymaking environment, and I have continued to incorporate precious metals, gemstones, and diamonds into my musical instruments. 

I moved to Costa Rica in 2013 where I continued to refine my luthiery while teaching woodworking in the marginalized neighborhood of Los Guido on the south side of San José. While living in the renowned coffee region of Tarrazu, also one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, I studied the local flora and fauna with a particular eye to forestry and conservation. The plethora of wood species common to the region defies description. I found that I was able to procure all the wood I could possibly need to build ukuleles by searching among trash heaps and occasionally buying scraps destined to be burned for charcoal. 

Now I am back in the USA, where in between my travels I make all kinds of different stuff, all of which I call jewelry; ukuleles, guitars, engagement rings, small unusual containers... the list goes on. 

In addition to using sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood, I am also committed to using 100% recycled precious metal in all of my work. As my art has progressed over the last decade and a half I have been able to use a greater and greater percentage of reclaimed/ recycled/ repurposed materials, and for the last five years I have used exclusively recycled metals, diamonds and estate gemstones. I have always been passionate about combining traditional hand work with innovative design and processes, and my shop practices are intentionally low-impact. 

fun ukulele

Hiding behind my beard in Aserri, Costa Rica, March 2014

Custom ukulele
ukulele making

Sizzle Stats:

• Bachelor of Fine Arts in Metalsmithing and Jewelry with a minor in Psychology from the University of North Texas

• Joshua's art is in private collections in North and South America, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, and has been exhibited at The Bascom in Highlands, North Carolina, Hotel Quito in Quito, Ecuador,  The Mighty Tieton in Tieton, WA, Hotel Olas de la Madrugada in Bocas Town, Panama, and is permanently on display at Richland College in Dallas, TX. He has contributed as a graphic consultant to architectural projects in Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Anchorage. 

• In 2012 Joshua developed a proprietary sterling silver alloy and process by which to blow borosilicate glass into a silver armature as a vessel-forming technique, a combination that was supposed to be impossible on the basis that the flow temperature of the glass exceeds the vapor temperature of the metal. 

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