Dana Schneider | Maker of the Mockingjay Pin

Dana Schneider
(Original story from risd.edu)
Like the Twilight and Harry Potter phenomena, the teen adventure film The Hunger Games has become more than a big blockbuster success. Set in a dystopian world where teenagers must fight to the death in televised combat, the movie has so far raked in a whopping $248.5 million. Its opening weekend – the third-best in North American box office history – saw millions of moviegoers queued up for midnight screenings at megaplexes nationwide.

Interestingly, Dana Schneider 82 SC was not one of them. The Ohio-based jewelry designer, who has made work for more than 50 TV shows and films like The Matrix sequels and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, painstakingly designed the mockingjay pin worn by actress Jennifer Lawrence for her lead role as Katniss Everdeen. But in an interview this week with the website Lark Crafts, the artist admits she has yet to see the film.

Given her day-to-day work schedule, it’s clear why Schneider may not actually have enough time to take in a movie – even one in which her signature sterling silver and gold pin appears much larger than life on a giant screen.

“I’ve made sacrifices others wouldn’t choose to make in their lives or their careers,” says Schneider, who also makes custom pieces for music industry celebrities like Marilyn Manson, Cher and Snoop Dogg. “I can tell you a lot of jewelers wouldn’t want to do this even if they could. Some years I might design 180 different pieces. I pull all-nighters, work 24 hours, get on a plane, fly to LA, go to the set… and then I get to sleep. But I love it.”

When she was asked to create the mockingjay pin, Schneider had already been working in Hollywood for over a decade. But the pin posed a unique challenge: the design had already been established – and prominently featured on the cover of the original novel by Suzanne Collins.

“It was an incredible challenge to replicate something that’s so clear in the minds of so many fans,” she says in the interview. “Getting it right involved months of meetings, models and plane trips.… It took a while to get that aged look right. And it took six different models to work out things such as where to solder the arrow on the pin and how to make it look delicate and yet have it still be functional.”

These days, Schneider is highly sought after for her dramatic, cutting-edge designs. But her path to jewelry design actually began with science: Her father, an engineer, taught her how to cast, solder and use basic tools like pliers. As a Sculpture major at RISD, she worked with heavy forged steel, cast bronze and aluminum. And it wasn’t until 15 years later – while at the movies – that she actually got inspired to design for the big screen.

“I was watching a trailer for The Matrix in 1998 and thought, ‘I can do that,’” Schneider says. “I moved to Los Angeles and a year later, with a lot of hard work and a lot of determination, my jewelry was appearing in films.”