An eclectic, contemporary art gallery in the heart of Bozeman, Montana
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Artist Bios: Jewelry
A high school shop class in Fort Benton, Montana set me on the path to what would one day become my passion and livelihood. These days I live and work in a studio in the mountains outside of Bozeman, Montana. Using traditional silversmithing techniques combined with metals and stones, I make simple, modern jewelry with a rustic and handmade feel.
In the Beginning Ever since I can remember I have loved drawing, sculpture, embroidery or sewing. I studied art in a professional capacity but people are sometimes surprised to learn that this did not include jewelry making or silversmithing.
Yet, I have always been drawn to jewelry as a form of expression and, given that I have stayed involved in several fields of creativity at once, the area of collage came naturally to me. “Matchmaking” materials is what I love to do: testing contrasts, colors and textures and how they interact together.
Combining beads and soft tassels with jagged surfaces; matte textures with shiny metals. For me, the possibilities are boundless and anything can trigger creative impulse.
At the very beginning, jewelry was simply a means of earning a living. Back in the 1980s when I first started, most jewelry tended to be made of precious metals such as gold and silver as well as modeling clays, which was popular at the time. Being an outsider, I actually had an advantage. My designs were different. Unexpected. They incorporated materials that were unconventional: metals with fabrics, beads, plaster, wood and different findings.
I was actually selling miniature artifacts. The initial collections had mosaic-like qualities to them, virtually reminiscent of the ancient Byzantine era. Through time, my design aesthetics have increasingly reflected influences in the fashion world and seasonal color changes.
Inspiration My main source of inspiration has always been the materials themselves rather than ideas that come from within.
Other influences that have captivated me include my cultural background. My grandmother, who is still alive at the age 104, emigrated from Afghanistan to Israel in the 1920s. She carried her baby for most of the 2000 mile journey. This baby was my father. At one point, I visited a museum featuring jewels from Afghanistan. As I walked through the gallery, I was amazed. I noticed the parallels between the artifacts on display and my own work.
Evolution At the beginning, my jewelry was like miniature mosaics made of beads, crushed glass, mineral stones, decorative prints, wood and ceramics. I combined these materials to create collages. On one occasion, I incorporated autumn leaves that I had picked up on the way to my studio. Things that come into my life unplanned or by chance, may later take shape in the form jewelry. I introduce random elements that I come across, and it has become the way that I express myself creatively.
The collage-style that goes back to my early days still serves as the basis of the “Classic Collection” today.
In the mid-1990s, I travelled to India to find interesting beads. Instead, I found silks and fabrics that excited me. Back in my studio, I made beads made out of these fabrics, giving birth to what is now known as the “Hip Collection”. This collection has evolved over time, incorporating textiles from around the world and has now become linked with the brand.
Given that many of my collections use such a diverse variety of elements, at a certain point in time, I decided to create a simplified range. This has evolved into what has become known as the “Radiance Collection” which predominantly involves the use of glass with colorful prints and motifs.
In the last few years, I was inspired to create jewelry using yarn which stemmed from my background in costume design. This was the “Tulipa Collection”. My inspiration came directly from nature itself: sprouting leaves, flowering bulbs and multi-colored petals.
Yet, in contrast to these soft organic forms, more recently, I have been drawn to metals. This is reflected in the “Indigo Collection” which focuses on delicate filigree and hints of strong color.
In the commercial market, compromises need to be made. I too have to conform. But from time to time, I indulge. I stray. I abandon convention. I make individual pieces that have an experimental touch which involves a sense of freedom. Jewelry that reflects what I want to do at the time and nothing more. This we have called the 'Signature Group'.
What's Next? I am happy to think that I can bring joy to others through what I make. I am fortunate to have the scope to develop and refresh my collections rather than remain static. It is my hope to continue to evoke curiosity and intrigue through my artistic productivity . For me, this is the true essence of what Ayala Bar stands for.
I love the wildflowers of Spring and their shameless displays of themselves. Bright and bold, on the side of dusty old roads, or romantic and free, in hidden alpine meadows. The jewelry I create is my tribute to these wild beauties. While out on morning walks my eyes are drawn to them and my mind absorbs the colors, shapes and textures of these wild blooms. Then later, tucked away in my old school house studio, I try to recreate these beauties. My hope is that wearing or viewing my jewelry gives you a sense of the wondrous, natural world we live in full of beautiful, blossoming wildflowers.
Growing up on the eastern slope of the North Cascades, I've spent over three decades hiking and skiing throughout its complex geography and geology. It's a landscape that's at once striking and subtle, one that I've grown to know intimately and love deeply. When I began making jewelry 25 years ago, it was almost inevitable that the mountain scenery that I love so much would find it's way into my work. It continues to inspire and inform all of my creative work. It's my hope that a little bit of that inspiration finds it's way into each piece of jewelry that I make.
Metal smithing classes in high school got me interested in jewelry design. After college, I interned for Sam Shaw in Maine. As I developed my own distinct style, I began selling my work in galleries and shops. After 7 years in Maine, I headed west and established my own jewelry business. In my semiprecious collection, I combine sterling, fine silver, 14kt & 22kt gold and flush set diamonds. I often use an antique hammer which creates a unique and subtle texture on the metal. The paper collection uses bright Chiyogami paper embedded in resin, in sterling silver settings. I currently own Workshop, a studio/retail space located in Jackson, Wyoming and feel lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I like to laugh, create, savor, and frolic with husband Doug, daughter Finna, son Tanner, and white faced golden retriever Pema.
April Hale is a traditionally trained metalsmith who has been practicing her art for over ten years. Crafting sustainable jewelry from sterling silver, steel, and enamel in her small studio in Florence, Montana, she derives her designs from forms and colors that she sees in the landscape. Outside of the studio, April enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, and working in her garden.
I have always been a maker. I work nearly every day in my small studio in Florence, Montana - making sustainable, handcrafted jewelry by combining blacksmithing, enameling, and fine silversmithing into contemporary, nature-inspired aesthetic. I have been creating jewelry for over ten years and hold a Craft Certificate in Metalsmithing from the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee and a Master’s of Fine Art from Montana State University in Bozeman. I love using my eyes and hands to create adornment that connects people to their surroundings. Frequently new designs arise from a form observed on my morning run or a view of a landscape I saw as I drove across the state. Rather than replicate what I see, I distill the natural forms to their essence, interpreting them in a new way. A rosehip on a bare twig in winter, the first glacier lilies in spring, or a rusty car on a dry hillside are all visual elements that may be incorporated into a necklace or a pair of earrings. By tying colors and forms from the environment into the jewelry, I bring the landscape onto the body of the wearer. Enameled shapes create pools of color; forged steel and silver give the work a natural, handmade feel. Of the many tools in my studio, two hammers hand made by a blacksmith friend are my favorites. Handmade tools feel different to use – like my jewelry, they carry something of the place where they were created and the person who created them. This history of the tools and materials, connection to the landscape, and environmental sustainability are integral to what I make. By using reclaimed copper and steel I am breathing life back into the metals, connecting our past cultures to the present through my view of the contemporary landscape. By wearing the jewelry, one wears a small part of the people and places that came before.
From the beginning of our creative venture it was important to us to find our own voice and an innovative material in which to create jewelry.
That inspiration was found in the forgotten junkyards that dot our country's landscapes and back roads. We create jewelry objects made using vintage automotive steel that we personally salvage ourselves.
We intentionally leave the original car paint intact and unaltered. Our work is often simple in form with a direct intent to accentuate the beauty within the salvaged car metal. The form, texture and colors of the old automotive steel continually inspire us to find new ways in which to express its beauty.
Using cold form fabrication and sheet metal production techniques our work leans towards a refined, modern design aesthetic.
We aspire to continually explore the expression of the material with a connection to the past as well as the future; referencing an important cultural piece of American history and an essential environmental awareness.
Ananda draws inspiration from natural forms, and the vibrant luminosity of natural gemstones. She strives to capture the precious quality found in ancient jewelry, while creating pieces with a modern sensibility. All of the gems used are hand picked for their unique and exceptional characteristics.
Many of her pieces contain an original painting on paper, which is set behind crystal in silver or 22k gold. An important influence in Ananda's work is the powerful symbolism behind each of the subjects she chooses to paint.
Each of Ananda’s pieces is handcrafted in her studio in Florence, Massachusetts.
Tiny original painting set in sterling silver, accented with ruby
Rag and Stone by Erin Hawley
Rag and Stone is a Metalsmithing studio located in Northwest Montana, where Artist Erin Hawley creates one-of-a-kind jewelry and limited collections. She works out of a small outbuilding in Whitefish, MT dubbed “the bungalito" and is usually in the middle of a cup of hot coffee.
Erin explores the story that stone and silver seem to speak together. Her work is inspired by the beautiful and sometimes harsh climates of the North and her place among the "Big Sky". She enjoys large stones, simple silver design, and writing about the intention behind each of her pieces.
Most of Erin's jewelry is inspired by strong and independent women whose zest for life is contagious. Strength and bravery is a common theme and thread of her work. Her hope for you is that something made by her makes you hold your head a little higher, that it reminds you to be fierce and passionate. She hopes you find a piece that reminds you daily that you truly are a gorgeous human being!
I am a self-educated artist with a particular interest in jewelry. My work explores the interaction of color and texture in hand-crafted silver jewelry, emphasizing unique individualized pieces designed to be worn on all occasions. While I have a modern aesthetic many pieces embody an organic, flowing form, and take inspiration from my Montana home. I employ a range of materials and techniques in the fabrication of my work, all chosen to bring to life my unique perspective on beauty.
Skipping Lilies started as a brother/sister team, resulting from simple inspiration: a convergence of early stained-glass projects (monitored by an energetic Norwegian grandfather), a primal fondness for artistic pursuits and nostalgic jewelry, a biology degree (Kristin) that led to such places as the Amazon Rainforest, & an engineering degree (Eric) to finesse it together.
"We have a love of wild things and wild places, and a desire to exhibit the beauty that exists there. We make jewelry using plant material we’ve collected as our primary design element, and glass as the other component. We explore jewelry as 2-dimensional, finding limitless possibilities for design using nothing but the plants we have scavenged. We see the pendants as tiny canvases – within which we represent spectacularly intricate living things – in simple, but elegant design. The designs play off the color and texture of glass – maintaining the subtle and quiet beauty of the plants and flowers we showcase. Much of what we collect is headed for the mower – tiny flowers and weeds that for most of their lives go completely unnoticed. These same trodden plants take on a life of staggering beauty when given the opportunity to be examined. We hope they encourage a closer look.
My renaissance-man brother stepped away in 2012, to pursue adventures in the world of engineering. Skipping Lilies now operates out of a tiny studio, that for a small portion of the day becomes my apartment.