This winter I am taking some time to travel the west coast with my husband and our dog. We started out in Washington State before the holidays and drove down the coast highway to the Bay Area of California for Christmas and and now are rambling around Northern California. All along the way we’ve had the joy of seeing family and friends and celebrating holidays with them. It is nice to sneak out of Wyoming’s sub-zero temperaures and deep snow, after 16 years winters straight this Northern California “winter” feels like springtime.
Along the way I’ve been picking up rocks and shells with thoughts of including them in my jewelry design. The northern coast of Califorina is especially wild with huge sea stacks, rock arches, and rugged cliffs. We check the tide tables each day and figure out when would be best to do a little beachcombing. So far I’ve found agates, abalone shell, and colorful tumbled pebbles on the beaches. Sometimes I like to think of the ocean as the world’s largest rock tumbler and enjoy seeing what it churns up for us.
Near these beaches are mountains with redwood forests that are full of green moss and ferns. It’s amazing how dark they are during the peak of daylight, the trees are so large and the canopies are so dense that only dappled light enters the forest. It’s good for my creative eye and mind to experience these new environments. We’ll be on the road a little while longer and eventually wind our way back to Wyoming. Happy 2020, everyone!
Rock hunting on the beaches of Northern California, agates, and pretty colorful pebbles (abalone pictured at top).
Pop-up jewelry sale at Hama Hama oysters in Lilliwaup, Washington in December.
We had a lot of quality family time during the holidays with exteneded family gatherings including three generations.
Wandering the redwood forests of Northern California.
I’m excited to announce my first ever Studio Sale! Online and open house: Nov. 1st groups of never seen artwork will start to be released online and throughout the month until Nov. 21-23 when I will be hosting an open studio for everyone to shop in person. Many many paintings, some sculpture large and small, and a lot of one-of-a-kind jewelry.
I’m getting so close to introducing my new jewelry collection! For the last two years I’ve been digging deep into my creative spirit and figuring out where to take my jewelry business.
I’ve been metalsmithing for about 25 years, made thousands of pieces of jewelry, and during 2010-2016 owned a retail store and gallery in Pinedale, Wy. where I was able to thrive. But after so much jewelry production on a constant basis my hands began to consistently ache and I found I was heading towards burning out on an art form that I love to do. At the end of 2016 I closed my shop and dove into my painting and sculpture work and lightened my jewelry load. I continued to explore carving stones for my jewelry while painting and sculpting work that related to them.
The exciting jewelry development I will be sharing soon is that I’ve decided to focus mainly on stone and minimally use metal; I’ve shook up my materials, tools, and techniques! I’m using mainly regional gemstones and rocks that I’ve purchased from miners or found myself and especially ones that connect me to the lands that I love. As with all new projects it’s taking longer than I predicted to get it all up but in the coming weeks I’ll finally (!!) begin posting new work on my website.
It’s been a long time since I posted on my jeweler’s blog but I’ve been working in jewelry studio the whole time. Over a year ago I closed my bricks and mortar storefront in Pinedale to focus more fully on jewelry design and creation. Currently my jewelry can be found here on my website, in select stores, and I will be attending some summer art fairs this year. For my local Pinedale people you can find my jewelry next door to my store at the Cowboy Shop. I want to give a quick update of what’s been going on in the studio:
With my more flexible time I’ve been making jewelry that is a little more time consuming to produce but also challenging and fun for me. This week I finished a small collection of handmade lockets; each locket is one-of-a-kind and feature a handcut gemstone heart on the front. I hadn’t tried cutting a heart shape before so that was a fun new thing to do.
Also in my recent new jewelry designs is a growing collection of cuff bracelets. I’ve been finding that I really like the palette of the wrist for being able to work with larger designs and stones. A few from the past months are a powerful geometric design, the “Wonder Cuff”; a 1920’s art deco inspired “Glamour Cuff”; and Wyoming big game antler favorites: “Moose Antlers” and “Elk Antlers”.
2017 was the year of the Great American Eclipse. The total solar eclipse passed right through the middle of Wyoming so my husband and I camped out on a nearby peak and were completely awed by the most amazing natural phenomenon we witnessed. We were on a peak in the nearby Gros Ventres Mountains and from there had 360 degree views of four mountain ranges: the Gros Ventres, the Grand Tetons, the Absorokas and the Wind River Range. I made a limited edition cuff bracelet celebrating this event with the sun and moon phases on the outside of the cuff and all of the states in totality along with the eclipse date on the inside. I still have a few silver ones left for sale on this site. I was wearing a bronze version during the eclipse and like to think that it was with me during that event.
A wonderful art experience in 2017 was a one-month artist residency at the Jentel Foundation. I was awarded the residency to focus on painting and worked on largescale abstract watercolors. I’m exploring light, gems, and refraction in this work and it is continuing. I am now working towards a solo show at the Center for the Arts in Jackson, Wyoming where I will show this body of work; the opening date for that will be the winter solstice, December 21, 2018. You can keep track of new work on my Instagram account.
Also coming up will be a solo show at the Sublette County Library in Pinedale for the month of October, 2018. I will be showing my jewelry design drawings next to the final pieces so that people can have a peek into my process. I think it will be really fun to share this with all of my local customers. And for now, please follow my Isabel Jewelry Facebook page and Instagram accounts for frequent photos and event updates. Hope you are all well!
Big changes are coming to Isabel Jewelry! After Christmas I will be closing my Pinedale storefront and gallery for the winter season. I’ve had the doors of my shop open since 2010 and it’s been really fun, rewarding and educational. But it is very demanding to run a retail storefront while at the same time working as a professional metalsmith. So my plan is to give myself a long deep breath of time to design and re-orient my business path and figure out exactly how I want to proceed. Here are some of my thoughts for my continued creative expansion:
I hope to take a lot of quiet time to design a super one-of-a-kind gallery-level line of jewelry. In the past year I’ve been teaching myself how to cut stones and want to design a custom collection using Wyoming jade, local petrified wood, agate, other regional gems and perhaps some dots of fair trade diamonds or other ethically sourced flashes of sparkle.
Another area I am excited to expand is my unique wedding (or any occasion) gold bands. I have a bunch of designs in my head that I just never get the chance to realize and I am looking forward to seeing them come to life. These rings will offer interesting alternatives to common wedding and stacking rings for women and men.
During the coming year I will also be considering reaching out to other retail locations about carrying my jewelry. Currently I sell my jewelry on my website and in my store but I am a little bit limited since I live in a tiny town in Wyoming so I would like to look outwards. But this is more of a long-range plan that will take planning and time.
I have a really fun top-secret empowering jewelry project in mind for all of my fellow strong and independent women….but I am going to wait to share that!
Finally, in my painting and drawing world, a very exciting offer came to me this fall: I was offered an artist residency at the Jentel Foundation in northern Wyoming. For a month this winter I will be living at the residency and totally devoting my time to working on paintings. The portfolio I applied with is available on my artist website. I’ll post on my social media while I’m there if you are interested in seeing progress.
So the big news is that I will be closing the storefront for at least 4-5 months; I am not going out of business and you can still shop online but I will not be available for daily retail storefront shopping. If there is demand I will do an occasional pop-up or trunk sale. I’ll keep you posted here and on my social media.
I hope everyone has a beautiful holiday season and that you and your family are full of love and happiness and peace. Thank you for supporting my creative journey and visions.