About the Artist
Early History and Education
I was raised in the Boston area, and studied jewelry making at an early age. I took my first class at age twelve, and pursued metalsmithing on my own through high school. I went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia to earn my BFA.
While I was in school, I worked two separate jobs on Jewelers' Row in Philadelphia to earn money for living expenses and class supplies. Although it was challenging to work so much and go to school, I was lucky enough to be part of several trade shops that employed craftsmen from Europe. I learned as much from them as I did in school.
Coast to Coast Change
After more than a decade in traditional jewelry making, including a few years as head model maker for a large company in Florida, I felt that it was time for a significant change. I moved all the way across the country to the Inland Northwest, and began to pursue life as an independent artist.
The beautiful landscape had an immediate effect on me. I was inspired by the connection of earth and water in the Spokane area, where I now live. There are so many rivers and tributaries winding through the rolling hills. Beautiful mountain ranges are covered with deep forests, and there are a multitude of lakes where they meet. Although I will always be grateful for the opportunities I had on the East Coast, in the Inland Northwest, I feel that I am home at last.
I am fascinated with the ways different world cultures use visual imagery and hidden symbolism to express emotional concepts. The glyphs and markings of long ago cultures resonate with spiritual qualities. Each of these has their own unique symbols, yet the common human experience of life on our planet has brought similar themes into art. Centuries apart, different civilizations came to imagery that is uncannily like that from another epoch.
This is where my work lives, in the intersection between the ancient and modern. Humans define themselves in such varied ways, yet the concepts that tie us together far outweigh the differences.
Modern culture is about self - expression, about the rights of the individual, and the capital "I" Yet we all want to belong on some level, to find our tribe, the people we want to interact with, the ones who truly understand our own points of view.
In presenting my work, I have found a strong resonance for my amulets. It seems that the pieces I care so much about personally also touch other people who are seeking connection and spirituality. The wearable art I make speaks to people about their own journeys. They see the inherent peace and comfort of the natural world. They respond to symbols that have no immediate explanation, but resonate with their inner selves. That makes me hopeful about my work, our stories connecting the long human tradition of melding art with life.
I start with drawings of nature. I am constantly watching the light, trying to understand highlights, shadow and form. I look at the shapes of trees and clouds, the sweep of land across the horizon, the tiniest flower. I marvel at birds and animals and try to capture their essence in quick sketches. Then I take those marks on paper and work to make them more formal drawings, where all the elements are telling a story.
I put symbols in the bark of trees, float them on the water, hide them in the wings of a dragonfly. I use cross cultural symbols, borrowed from long separated eras to make something new, and fresh. I create emotional environments in charcoal and graphite, my own personal lexicon and history.
I turn my miniature carvings into silver with the traditional craft of lost wax casting. This lengthy and complex process changes hand made waxes into precious metal. Molds are made, a special plaster poured into a steel flask, which then cures around the carving. The embedded wax is melted out to create a negative impression.
The silver is heated to around 1780 degrees and when it is liquid, vacuum pressure draws it down into the negative space. Once cooled, the plaster is broken away and the casting revealed. Then a multi-stage process begins to remove the casting gates, called sprues, and clean, sand and finish up the item.
Sometimes I solder cast pieces together, to create a piece, using components to build a larger structure. I frequently re-carve sections with burs and gravers, adding more detail. I build complex mechanisms for the more involved pieces, and these can including clasps, swivels and hinges.
Although I live in Spokane, in the last few years I have been traveling the country attending well-known juried shows during the summer. Under my company name of Silver Element Jewelry, I have covered thousands of miles to share my art and my symbolism at outdoor crafts festivals.
Last year, as part of a multi layered approach to changing the way I earn my living as an artist, I opened a seasonal showroom in the Kendall Yards District. In this beautiful little space I offer my art jewelry during special events and numerous holidays. The Studio, as I like to call it, is also where I am hosting a growing number of symbol workshops. I am very excited about these new approaches, since they will help me add the final piece to my working repertoire.
One of my most creative endeavors is creating custom pieces for individual clients. This process allows me to spend time with specific people, to design pieces for them that reflect their own personal journeys. I help them express their individual stories with a wearable piece of art. I work with people intimately, finding ways to transform their own emotional landscapes into a highly personal pieces.