[Please connect with Lark Jewelry & Beading on Facebook.]

Dana Schneider's 22-karat gold-plated sterling silver mockingjay pin for The Hunger Games movie


Today we talk with Dana Schneider, the jewelry designer who made the mockingjay pin that actress Jennifer Lawrence wears in the movie The Hunger Games. As you know if you’ve read the books or seen the movie, this pin (worn by main character Katniss Everdeen) is an especially important part of the story—a symbol of rebellion in a post-apocalyptic world.

When I found out I was going to interview Dana Schneider, the jewelry designer who made the mockingjay pin for The Hunger Games movie, I was excited. But I was also not sure what to expect from a woman who has made jewelry for more than 50 films and television shows (including Planet of the Apes, The Matrix sequels, and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), designed what Cher has described as “her favorite ring,” and is friends with Marilyn Manson.

Within moments on the phone, I realized I was talking to one of the most engaged, confident, and also humble and generous artists I’ve ever met. She loves what she does and at the same time is very clear about just how hard her work is.

She is equally passionate discussing the magic of movie making, heavy metal music, women with charm bracelets jangling beside her at the symphony, and her own work in her studio and her Etsy jewelry shop.

Can you tell me a little about how you got started designing jewelry?

Dana Schneider

Jewelry artist Dana Schneider with a necklace she made for The Matrix Reloaded and a solid sterling silver piece she made for a Marilyn Manson video (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)

I learned basic jewelry-making skills as a child from my father, who was an engineer: how to cast, how to solder, how to use a pair of pliers. I’ve always just naturally been a craftsperson. I’ve also always been a movie fan.

When I attended the Rhode Island School of Design, I planned to focus on animation, but in my freshman year I decided to do sculpture instead—foundry work with heavy forged steel, cast bronze, and aluminum. Then when I graduated, I decided I didn’t want to have a career as a fine artist.

Why not?

I felt art was about communicating, and I knew that I was young and didn’t have a lot to say yet.

I got a job in the repair department at Tiffany & Co. in New York City. But I didn’t actually repair the jewelry—I did public relations for the repair department. And I learned how people use and abuse their jewelry, how they don’t want to think about chains breaking and pearls needing to be restrung—especially on pieces from Tiffany.

I realized that when people buy something, they want it to last, and I could understand that. I started my own jewelry business as soon as I left Tiffany, and I’ve been making jewelry ever since.

So how did you start designing jewelry for movies?

I was watching a trailer for The Matrix in 1998 and thought “I could do that.” If all these other people were doing it, I figured I could, too, and do just as good a job. So 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.

The first one was The Planet of the Apes. Eventually I made pieces for both The Matrix sequels. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve made sacrifices others wouldn’t choose to make in their lives or their careers.

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 L.A., go the set, and THEN I get to sleep. But I love it.

Tell me about making the mockingjay pin for The Hunger Games.

Well, with The Hunger Games, the design was already established. The pin is on the cover of the first book. So it was an incredible challenge to replicate something that’s so clear in the minds of so many fans. Getting it right involved months of meetings, models, and plane trips. [Dana now lives in her hometown of Canton, Ohio, and “commutes” to her film work.]

I carved the original by hand using lost-wax casting. It is sterling silver plated with 22-karat gold and with an antique finish applied. 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.

When working on a movie, you have many different things to take into account. Jennifer Lawrence’s main costume was canvas, so the pin had to look delicate but be able go through several thick layers of canvas. And because I’d read the book, when the costume designer asked me to make the mockingjay pin, I knew immediately that I’d also be making the pin for the stunt double. You don’t want the stunt double to be hurt when wearing a piece of jewelry—that’s number one. You always have to think about things like that when making jewelry for movies.

And there’s no point in contacting you to buy a copy of the mockingjay pin, right?

Right. I have nothing to do with the ones for sale. Those are not a replica of my pin, but a computer-generated 3D model of the book cover illustration. I made only four finished pins for the movie. I always make one to keep and have as a backup. You never know when you may need that backup.

This piece, Sun Bird, was made for Showtime's Californication.

How did you feel it worked when you saw it 20-feet-high on a movie screen?

You know, I’ve been so busy working, I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’m hoping I may get to see it tonight!

Do you have to give up a certain amount of artistic freedom to work in the film industry?

For me, it’s the opposite. I don’t fit into the craft jewelry world, I don’t fit into the fine craft jewelry world, and I don’t fit into the fashion world. For me, there’s far more freedom in film work than any other area.

I sold my work through boutiques and places like Barneys for decades. Once you do that, the stores are the ones saying, “Turquoise is in this year. This didn’t sell, but this did—do more of that.” Why, as an artist, should you let other people restrict you that way?

Every movie is completely different. I’ve always rebelled against the idea in the jewelry world that you stick with a particular technique or material. I’d be bored stupid and feel chained.

I’m a movie fan, first and foremost. So I love seeing my work on the screen. The most important thing is that it lives up to what the fans want. Where 99.9 percent of jewelers just want to do product placement in a movie, I want to do the perfect piece for that film. I want to feel really good about whatever I create.

It seems that you really like the collaborative aspect of it.

Jewelry making is a very solitary thing. Part of what I like about what I do is getting to see behind the scenes of movie-making, to see the sets being built, and see a movie come to life. I get to read the scripts sometimes, and I will usually discuss the character or characters with the costume designer and maybe the director.

You definitely have to check your ego at the door in this industry. I’ve taken some pretty good hits out there, but no worse than in the fashion world. Until I actually see my piece in a movie, I don’t know if it made it in. Sometimes I only see my piece in the director’s cut. Or someone will see a movie my piece or pieces were in and say, “I didn’t notice that there was any jewelry in it at all.” That’s okay. Sometimes that should be the case.

I work well in Hollywood because I’m confident in what I bring to the table so it’s easy for me to hear criticism of my work. I take my deadlines and my responsibilities very seriously.

Being a lifelong fan of movies, I’ve always paid attention to how art factors into movies. Continuity, for example, is so important. It’s a cliché, but I was that little kid at the movies who’d see a guy with a shirt buttoned in one frame and then unbuttoned in the next. It drove me nuts.

It takes a lot of common sense to know what will and won’t work in movies. I have a great high-tech digital kiln, and I just recently bought Lark Jewelry & Beading’s The Art of Enameling by Linda Darty. I see amazing things being done with enameling, but it doesn’t have good application in film because you have to be able to do replications. So I’ll get to do enameling on my own. Glass is another one that doesn’t work for film—it’s just too fragile.

You have to work for the movie, not for yourself. But then I get to go back to my studio and do whatever I want. If I did nothing but film work, I’d feel claustrophobic, but I don’t. I get to go home to my studio! And with every project I work on, I learn something new, so then I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned in my own work.

So what are you working on right now?

I just finished making jewelry for Russell Brand in a Diablo Cody project. It’s a little independent film that doesn’t even have a title yet. The working title is still Untitled Diablo Cody Project.

The movie Cabin in the Woods is about to come out. I worked on that over two years ago. And then GI Joe Retaliation will be out in June. I spent three months working on pieces for that.

I’ve noticed you have an Etsy shop.

I want to give a shout-out to Etsy! Etsy has been the missing link for me. It’s given me more freedom than ever. It’s very democratic. I love it.

You have your own shop. You can charge whatever you want, and people can find you. I love the freedom and control that Etsy gives me over managing my time. If I get swamped, I can click and put my shop on Vacation Mode. It suits the lifestyle I have. I can get a call and have to be on a plane the next day.

Etsy gives me control and freedom. I’ve pulled out of all brick-and-mortar stores. The landscape for jewelers changed when the economy took a hit—getting paid from stores or galleries was often like pulling teeth. With Etsy you get paid immediately.

Initial pendant from Dana's Etsy shop

Do you have advice for others with Etsy shops or people thinking of opening one?

I watched it for a while first before I opened my shop. I wanted to see where it was going. I spent a lot of time seeing how things like the treasury lists work and what people are looking for.

Here’s my tip for people who sell on Etsy: Putting an initial on something will help it sell. I had my initial pendant years ago, and then I realized from studying Etsy that people are always looking for letters. If you put a letter on it, it will sell.

Any parting words of advice?

Once you realize that just because something has always been done one way does not mean it has to be done that way, it can open up all kinds of doors. You are always a student, always learning. If you reach a point where you think you’ve got it all figured out … well, then you probably don’t.

Okay, I’ve got to go now. I’ve got to be on a television talk show in Cleveland in the morning.

Wow, how exciting. Good luck.

Oh, I just want to be in my studio working!


42 Responses

    [...] the entire interview on Lark Crafts. Mockingjay [...]

    Carol Barnao says:

    Awesome! I’ll definitely check out her Etsy shop. Thanks for sharing.

    [...] More: Interview with Dana Schneider, Designer of The Hunger Games … [...]

    Maryallen says:

    This is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever read.

    Lori says:

    This was a really fun interview to read….thanks!

    [...] fan, then you won’t want to miss the interview with mockingjay pin designer Dana Schneider at Lark Jewelry & Beading. You’ll also get a chance to win a licensed version of Dana’s mockingjay pin! You may [...]

    Kathrynn says:

    Fantastic interview, I’ve seen Hunger Games and the pin is exactly how it is pictured on the book.  Thanks

    [...] a backup. You never know when you may need that backup.You can read the full interview with Dana at Lark Crafts. Thanks to our reader Kathy for the tip! You can leave a response, or trackback from your own [...]

    [...] 4, 2012 | No Comments » Posted by Sheila in Mockingjay Lark Crafts recently got the opportunity to interview Dana Schneider the woman who created the famous mockingjay [...]

    [...] fan, then you won’t want to miss the interview with mockingjay pin designer Dana Schneider at Lark Jewelry & Beading. You’ll also get a chance to win a licensed version of Dana’s mockingjay [...]

    [...] more about Dana Schneider, the woman behind the design of ‘The Hunger Games’? Well, Lark Crafts interviewed her. You can read an excerpt below, but for the entire thing, CLICK HERE. Can you tell [...]

    [...] Read the rest article HERE [...]

    Tinker1029 says:

    Really enjoy your designs. This pin is exactly what I envisioned while reading the books.

    Ellen says:

    The book was amazing and the movie was great as well.  The pin looked fabulous!

    Rebekah Burr-Siegel says:

    Such a creative and talented artist – and perfect timing for the interview.

    Rebekah Burr-Siegel says:

    Such a creative and talented artist – and perfect timing for the interview.

    [...] more at Lark Crafts Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. from → Movie News ← Episode 53 [...]

    Casey Sharpe says:

    This is really cool!  I loved the movie, and I think the design is fabulous.  Perhaps we could give a shout out to Tim O’Brien as well, since he did the cover?  http://www.uarts.edu/news/2012/03/illustration-prof-hunger-games-artist  

    Guest says:

    Really cool interview

    Hagisgrrrl72 says:

    love the pin. was just as i expected.

    [...] Lark Crafts: ‘Jennifer Lawrence’s main costume was canvas, so the pin had to look [...]

    [...] making the famous mocking&#106&#97&#121 pin for The Hunger Games, Ms Schneider told Lark Crafts: ‘Jennifer Lawrence’s main costume was canvas, so t&#104&#101&#32pin had to look [...]

    [...] making the famous mockingjay pin for The Hunger Games, Ms Schneider told Lark Crafts: ‘Jennifer Lawrence’s main costume was canvas, so the pin had to look delicate but be able [...]

    Shirley Moore says:

    What a great interview! She is obviously committed to her style of work, and is very clear about it’s limitations and freedoms. So glad you did this interview!

    [...] by dsgthtillys! forever 21 Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments! Question by : Where can i buy a mockingjay pin? I'm being Katniss for Halloween and i really want a…have bad reviews :/ Any help would be great!!!! PS. Do you have any costume ideas???? :)xx Best [...]

    Taylor Humphrey says:

    LOVE the Hunger Games!!!

    B Blah48 says:

    Wow. Amazing job. I love the pin, and one of my friends has a replica of it. Although it’s not made of gold. :’( Oh well. 

    [...] Fuente:Larkcrafts   Via: JuegosdelhambreEcuador [...]

    [...] Fuente:Larkcrafts   Via: JuegosdelhambreEcuador [...]

    [...] good investment and falls into fits of giggles numerous times (included in Out Takes at the end!) http://www.myflashtrash.com launches the 'Dendritic' Collection from New Jewellery Designer of the Year Al…t:left;margin:5px;">www.myflashtrash.com launches the 'Dendritic' Collection from New Jewellery [...]

    [...] Mockingjay Wanduhr 25 Sep Bild von: http://www.larkcrafts.com/jewelry-beading/dana-schneider/ [...]

    lol says:

    that is quite cool

    Game says:

    Web page about Event Game: Esport, League of Legends, Dota 2, game online, game mobile… http://eventgame.vn

    Event game says:

    Thanks for share! More information with http://eventgame.vn

    you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

    Good info. Lucky me I reach on your website by accident, I bookmarked it.

    seo plugin says:

    Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at. Seo Plugin

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

    Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

    tin game says:

    GAME14.NET trân trọng giới thiệu các bạn danh sách các phần mềm Mod Skin LOL (hay Custom Skin) Tiếng Việt miễn phí được ban quản trị và đông đảo game thủ sử dụng hiện nay. Phần mềm mod skin lol mà GAME14 giới thiệu đã được tích hợp đầy đủ các tính năng Custom Skin, Khung Viền Trận, Mod Map trong LMHT.

    This is my first time I have visited this site. I found a lot of interesting stuff in your blog.
    From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one! keep up the great

Leave a Reply