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Artisan Highlight: TFKIA Creative Studio owner, Shanaya Dungey


Shanaya Dungey, owner of TFKIA

The act of creating can be an exploration of identity, expression, and the desire to make an aspect of the present moment last into the future. Wearing these creations is also part of that experience. In this article I am presenting to you the wearable art of Shanaya Dungey, owner and founder of TFKIA Creative Studio. She makes jewelry, which is the focus here, but Shanaya is a multifaceted creative who also writes and organizes community projects among other passions.

What does TFKIA stand for?

Shanaya described this name as an ode to her younger self, signifying “The Foolish Know It All.” For her this name is about continual discovery, lifelong learning and being multifaceted. The brand name is about all that Shanaya does, whether it is jewelry, writing or research and remains open to any future endeavor.

Why polymer clay?

The choice of materials for her jewelry came from her memory as a child of loving clay. Her eyes lit up when talking with me about the idea of making something from nothing, of opening possibilities by making what you don’t have or what doesn’t exist, a love she’s leaned into since childhood. And clay specifically to her feels approachable and inclusive. She believes in art for everyone to counter a feeling some have that fine art is for “other people.”

Earring made by TFKIA in neutral tones and round beads

What is the inspiration for the design?

Shanaya employs heishi beads, which are flat, disc-shaped beads. She loves how they feel and how they roll on your skin. The idea of building something up architecturally is appealing to her. She has been researching her African roots, and heishi beads have a long tradition in parts of Africa.

Despite her desire to use many colors, she limits to a limited palette. The colors are chosen based on researching current trends and keeping an eye on design for long-term use. I am a fan of that philosophy myself! Shanaya is very practical and wants people to be able to wear her jewelry for many years based on color, durability, and design beyond trends.

I also noticed while photographing her with her earrings that she incorporated a unique feature. The backings on the earrings are part of the design, making little earlobe sandwiches. What this does is keep the large earrings hanging in a balanced way, without tipping. Besides -- I like how that looks!

Large hand-sculpted earrings made by TFKIA in periwinkle

Ok- loving it… where can I buy TFKIA Creative Studio jewelry?

Shanaya is currently participating in the American Craft Made online market. Use this link to visit her American Craft Made shop.

If you are local to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, you can visit her NE Minneapolis studio most Saturdays, including during Art-A-Whirl® on May 22, 2022.

Northrup King Building, 3rd floor
1500 Jackson St NE, Suite 301
Minneapolis, MN 55413

You can follow TFKIA Creative Studio on Instagram @tfkia_artstudio and sign up at Thefoolishknowitall.com to be alerted when new collections drop. 

Portrait of Shanaya Dungey

Tips for short girls?

You know I have to address that angle, right? I love that the necklaces have simple lines and can easily be worn by a person of any height, including us petites. The long ones that you wear by doubling around give you flexibility in how long you wear them. The earrings are large and bold, but even on me, at 5’0”, the hoop-style earrings would not dust my shoulders. Bold earrings draw the eye to your head, which I like for petite women. Just allow the earrings to be the focal point of your look. That means a solid color top or dress and stick to clean lines, nothing fussy. Try pairing with the EcoPetites Simple Jersey Knit Dress. Also pay attention to the number of colors, head to toe, and try to limit to three or less. This clean coordinated look will allow you to rock big bold earrings with elegance and style, with no apologies for being short.

Give it a try!