Jewelry as Original as you are

As anyone living on Martha’s Vineyard will tell you, much has changed on the island over the past two decades.  It’s hard for me to believe its been so long since I’ve been showing my jewelry there.  I’m glad to be part of a truly special artist community that, year after year, dream up new work to show during the summer season. Its what attracts an ever-growing number of people to art shows on the island. I think returning to a familiar place or seeing familiar faces gives visitors a sense of timelessness, of a summer that never ends.

Every summer over the past 20 years I’ve come to know so many visitors to the island, whether at my booth at the Vineyard Artisans Festivals, at the markets in Chilmark or at the Featherstone Center for the Arts.  During the off-season I travel to shows throughout New England and beyond, but it is Martha’s Vineyard that I call home.  I’m blessed to have so many friends on the island. Some of them I can also credit to my growth as an artist and small business owner.  Back in 1992, my Black Dog co-worker Alisa Lengel (who now heads the tourism department at the MV Chamber of Commerce) noticed I had an eye for display and attention to detail and recommended me to Sally Roesler, who needed help in her bead shop, Beadniks, in Vineyard Haven.  After five years of immersed apprenticeship, experimenting with every variety of material and learning of their properties and origins, Sally introduced me to her friend Jerry Visconti, who imports unique silver designs from Bali and Turkey and runs a wholesale mail-order business in Vineyard Haven.  Jerry was the one who prodded me to go to Bali on my own, to see the process and conditions under which the beads were made.  It was there, walking on the beach one day, I thought of the name for my business, and decided that upon returning to the states I’d become self-employed.

Throughout all this time I maintained my start-up company.  Early on I had a push cart at Five Corners on Bill McGee’s front yard (another former Black Dogger).  Back then the Chilmark Flea Market was at the Chilmark Community Church, and there were just seven of us at the Vineyard Artisans.

Some things change, and some things stay the same.  The Artisans Festivals continue, but now there are over 75 of us.  The shows attract visitors from far and wide. At the shows I’ve been exposed to magazine editors from InStyle and Vogue, and celebrities such as Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer, Bill Murray, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson have visited my booth and walked away with my jewelry.  Over the past few years a friend of Michele Obama’s has visited and last year gave the First Lady one of my necklaces.  Meeting fashion editors has led to some great exposure in the national press.

A bit about my jewelry and my process:  I’m proud to be self-taught.  I strive to be unique.  Rather than copy another design, I look for inspiration through unusual combinations of pattern, color, and materials.  I don’t limit my materials to traditional sources.  I love using found objects, organics, and reclaimed material as well as shiny-new Swarovski or precious gems.  My work is a big part of my life. My office hours could be a walk on the beach, or experimenting with new techniques to enamel, drill, and combine bones, stone, crystal, and precious metal.  I love sharing the excitement of my finds and new designs with the world.

My work is handmade and unique. I rarely repeat a design. Jewelry, as an art form, has the power to create moods, provoke opinions and produce reactions. Its also deeply personal and has a way of representing your soul.  I think about how each piece will be worn by someone out there, that there’s a kind of fate involved when the right person is matched to the right piece.  I don’t think of people that buy my jewelry as just customers. More than that they are fellow travelers in search of beauty.  Twenty years of one-of-a-kind designs is a testament to the endless variety that is possible.  I will never grow tired of designing jewelry or lack inspiration.