VALPARAISO — Ask Sara Tamez to describe what she does, and she says, simply, “I’m a maker.”
The 29-year-old Hammond native said she’s been “making stuff” as a do-it-your-selfer since she was in sixth grade.
“I was mixing lip glosses using a halogen lamp to melt it down ... even before DIY was a big deal and everyone freaked out about it,” Tamez said.
“I’ve always just been drawn to it before I realized I was passionate about it.”
Now Tamez is being considered as a contestant for the second season of the NBC show, "Making It," which first aired in July 2018 and is co-hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, stars of the NBC sitcom, "Parks and Recreation."
In the reality competition show, “maker” contestants are tasked with creating handmade projects employing their own unique vibe.
As the competition progresses, the challenges become more difficult, and one maker is eliminated weekly. The show ends in a final “craft-off” between the remaining two makers, one of whom wins a $100,000 prize.
Tamez had heard the show “was a thing,” and applied by sending photos of her creations.
“They emailed me a few weeks ago, asking for more pictures,” Tamez said. “They’re in the final weeks of casting, and I’m freaking out.”
Tamez said the show’s producers asked to see the range of what she can do.
“They said, ‘We want to see you are a maker through and through — not just one single thing,’ ” Tamez said. “Who I am as a person is a maker, so this should work out well.”
Tamez believes she is perfect for the show, because she has made “so many different things.”
“I do anything I can get my hands on,” Tamez said.
To name just a few examples, Tamez has sewn her own clothes, embellished vintage clothing, repurposed furniture, designed and constructed Christmas window displays, fabricated life-sized Lego Halloween costumes, and built wooden chandeliers, wine racks, and custom wall art for friends.
Tamez named her “making” business No Kitchen Sink, because her creations include everything — but the kitchen sink — as the saying goes.
Her latest endeavor is crafting semi-precious jewelry in sterling silver and 14k gold.
Not your everyday jewelry
The designs are quirky and unique, and Tamez — who has a degree in environmental science from Purdue University and works as a full-time environmental consultant in Chicago — does it all, from design, to securing the raw materials, to casting, stamping, tumbling, finishing, and polishing.
“People don’t realize the handmade aspect of it,” Tamez said.
“I’m not just assembling a prefabricated product. I’m soldering it all, I’m hand-forming it, I’m hand-finishing it. I’m doing everything.”
Tamez said her jewelry collections, which often feature “thick, bold lines,” appeal to “unapologetic, bold women,” the kind of women who are “not afraid to say what they feel.”
Her pierced earring studs that “involve expletives” are her biggest sellers.
“I’m an expressive person. I use the full range of the English language,” Tamez said. “Why not?”
Tamez is proud to weave her rigorous sensitivity to “social justice” into her creations. Her pendants and earrings often spout empowering words like “resist,” “feminist AF,” “slay all day,” and “nasty woman.”
“A lot of people want to separate social awareness from their business, but I don’t believe in that, so it is always intertwined in what I do,” Tamez said. “It’s all in line with the brand of No Kitchen Sink. It’s just me.”
Tamez said she is a self-taught maker, after starting with a basic metalsmithing class her freshman year at Purdue.
“I’m an obsessive researcher. I Google and read and learn any way I can,” Tamez said. “I also have other jeweler friends and often consult with them.”
Tamez said she has a few uses for the television show’s $100,000 prize, like paying off her student loan, her boyfriend’s debt, and her car, and giving her mom and sister money for a shopping spree. She is the sister of Times employee Sabrina Tamez.
“With the remaining $60 I’d get a manicure or something,” she joked.