Inspiration strikes at the most random of times for me. Recently, I was attending a wedding at the Cleveland Museum of Art and when I looked up at the ceiling, and it struck. It didn’t come from artwork or wedding flowers or anything like that, but a ceiling. “Whoa,” I thought, “that would make a really cool cuff bracelet.” I envisioned tubes perpendicularly drilled through two square outer wires with stones set in the sides where the tubes come through, making an industrial but modern looking cuff with hand engraved ornamentation.
The randomness of my inspiration makes it difficult for me to answer the question, “what inspires you?” Different, and beautiful things make me wonder: How can I make that into a piece of jewelry? Then my mind starts working to transform the object into wearable art.
When the masters who taught me traditional Florentine engraving techniques see my ceiling-inspired cuff, they’ll probably wonder where the idea came from — and that, out-of-the-box, handmade personal touch is precisely what makes my gallery unique. I’m always experimenting to add fresh, modern style to my pieces, while incorporating the classic (and even ancient) techniques I’ve studied.
Making the old new
I’ve always loved art, but I just dabbled in different media before I found my favorite — which was when I finally got into the Intro to Jewelry class at Baldwin Wallace University while earning my psychology degree. I fell in love with jewelry making. I went on to intern at Flux Metal Arts design studio, where I took a Florentine engraving class, which led to personal lessons and two trips to Italy to closely study traditional Florentine hand-engraving techniques.
I take traditional methods and make the old new by blending classic techniques with modern flair. One of my favorite styles involves Keum-boo, an ancient Korean technique where a 24-carat gold sheet is fused on top of fine silver. I engrave through the gold sheet to reveal the silver underneath, making modern designs you wouldn’t have seen in ancient times.
As unique as each piece is, I wanted to offer a bigger variety than just classic Florentine engraved jewelry. So I opened The W Gallery to a diverse group of artists, including other jewelry designers as well as glass blowers, ceramists, photographers and painters.
Each artist takes inspiration from cues as random and diverse as I do — from urban architecture to tropical flowers to cuttlefish bones. Because of that diversity, people can browse multiple mediums in multiple price ranges at The W Gallery to find the style that inspires their personal taste.
Personalizing a piece
People who come into my gallery have ideas and preferences as diverse as our artists’ work. There’s practically something for everyone — but if they have unique ideas they want to see in jewelry form, I will create a custom piece that tells their story, using designs and materials to match their personal style.
Using a photo from Darlene for example, I designed a layered pendant that silhouettes a horse in contrasting metals. When the owner of her barn saw her wearing it, she wanted a similar one, too. While I was working on the second one, another customer walked in and ordered one for herself.
Sharon brought in her father’s gold chain, and asked me to melt it down into a delicately engraved ring shaped in a chevron pattern. Not only did bringing her own metal help control the cost of her custom ring, it also held special meaning because she could keep her dad close.
Get inspired at The W Gallery!
You can shop the work of our artists and watch art taking shape while I make jewelry in my studio right on the retail floor. By having my creative space inside the gallery, I get to start designing as soon as inspiration strikes during the day. And visitors can get inspired, too, by watching handmade jewelry come to life right in front of them.
What’s your inspiration? Be inventive, take risks, and create something nobody else would think to make. Bring me your ideas, and I will work with you to make sure your creative vision comes true.