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Christina Odegard: MATIN

Artist ProfileApril Higashi


Shibumi Gallery, Berkeley, California, USA

By Jessica Hughes
Originally Published On Art Jewelry Forum


Christina Odegard’s deep appreciation for the beauty and elegance of natural materials, as well as her extensive exploration of form, is apparent in her work. Meanwhile, “shibumi” is a Japanese word referring to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. So it’s no surprise to see Christina Odegard’s work featured at the Shibumi Gallery in Berkeley, California.

Jessica Hughes: Can you tell us about your background?

Christina Odegard: I grew up in a rural community in England, about halfway between London and Brighton on the southeast coast, although both my parents are American. I spent many a day roaming our family farm, exploring nature. I attended an alternative school, which taught many traditional crafts, fostering my love of the arts.

I’ve read that you came from a family of artists. What made you decide to go into the jewelry field?

Christina Odegard: I attended Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), thinking I would continue studying fashion design, as I had been working in costumes and fashion. After a foundation year, I had to decide my major, and new experiences led me to the jewelry and light metals department.

Can you talk a little bit about your process and what inspires you?

Christina Odegard: I’m very interested in the work, lives, and processes of many artists. Artworks from ancient to contemporary inspire me, but my inspiration also comes from the process of transforming natural raw materials. Working with these diverse materials informs a direction to create a form which is quiet and elegant, yet maintains a simplicity of its origin.

Your show at Shibumi Gallery is open from March 12 through May 1. Can you tell us about the pieces you’re presenting there?

Christina Odegard: For this show I was interested in using black as a unifying theme. A few summers ago, my husband, daughter, and I spent some weeks traveling through Iceland. There, inspired by the dramatic lunar landscape, I picked up some obsidian, adding to a growing collection of black material. These blacks are all so diverse, yet subtle and quiet. For this show I have also included black diamonds, jet, ebony, horn, coral, and tourmaline, exploring further subtleties of the shade.

You’ve been carving or casting a similar shape—the cluster—in a variety of materials (jet, horn, tourmaline, gold). What dictates the use of one material over another in each of these instances?

Christina Odegard: The cluster form is a fascinating form to carve, as from all angles it can look different. After each cluster I carve, I still feel there is more to discover; I can refine it, perfect it, explore deeper. Thus it’s interesting for me to carve the cluster in different materials, to see how each responds. It’s like a question that never gets answered, but it’s still fascinating to ask it again and again.

Proposing variants on the same theme suggests an interest in developing design solutions into ranges (I am thinking for example of the tourmaline, the gold, and the pavé version of your Cloud ring). Contemporary jewelers tend to be timid about producing work across materials, preferring the art logic of developing various works using the same material and process. Does that make you a “designer”?

Christina Odegard: I’m not really concerned about labels. When I’m interested in a form or idea, I will pursue it until it no longer holds a mystery for me. Using different materials is an exploration, and can push me technically and artistically.

Among these materials, bison horn is unusual. The power and malleability of that material is particularly apparent in your Bison d’Or earrings. How did you begin working with it, and why do you like it?

Christina Odegard: Horn is very malleable, and it can be cut and carved in so many ways. It’s also a material used in ancient/primitive jewelry, which interests me.

You’re a jeweler and a sculptor. Do you approach creating jewelry differently than sculpture?

Christina Odegard: The jewelry and sculpture differ primarily in size. I approach them similarly, although for me the jewelry has to work on the body, complement the beauty of the wearer, and not dominate or take over. Sculpture can stand alone, responding to its surroundings, but not limited by them. I have created a series of sculptural bronze pieces, which is a material I haven’t used in jewelry.


With your husband, you founded the gallery called Matin in Los Angeles. Does being a gallerist affect the way you make jewelry? Does being a jeweler affect the way you choose art and artists for the gallery?

Christina Odegard: My husband, Robert Odegard, is the primary gallerist for Matin. We are interested in a particular aesthetic, quality and beauty. This is what informs our goals for the gallery.

From the perspective of an artist and a gallerist, do you have advice for emerging artists?

Christina Odegard: Work hard and be authentic.

What projects are next for you?

Christina Odegard: I’m creating a new series of small cluster sculptures, larger than the jewelry pieces yet using some of the same materials.

Have you seen, heard, or read anything interesting lately that you could share with us?

Christina Odegard: One artist/writer I truly admire is Edmund de Waal. I highly recommend his most recent book, The White Road.

Thank you!

The works in this exhibition are priced between US$200 and $12,000.


Jessica Hughes is a graphic designer, writer, and jewelry enthusiast. Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Jessica received her BFA at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia. Currently, she is the senior visual design manager at a fashion jewelry company, where she focuses on graphic design, jewelry design, marketing, and trend research.

Dependent on the Light: Jane D'Arensbourg's Sculptural Glass Jewelry & Amy Ruppel's Nature-Based Monoprints

Press, Artist ProfileApril HigashiComment

by Elka Karl

Light cannot exist without shadow; illumination seeks a surface for reflection. In Shibumi Gallery’s newest show Illume, Jane D'Arensbourg’s glass jewelry and lightingand Amy Ruppel’s monoprints serve as an enlightening example of this truth. 

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Jane D’Arensbourg’s chosen medium, glass, is intrinsically dependent on light. How her jewelry catches, reflects, or absorbs the light changes the quality of her pieces moment by moment. At the same time, the pieces’  architectural angularity lends a framework to the deceptively delicate-seeming, yet incredibly sturdy, borosilicate glass.

A graduate of California College of Arts, where she studied sculpture, D’Arensbourg’s jewelry was initially more of an afterthought: she started making jewelry for fun and as presents to friends and family. She began working with borosilicate glass, Pyrex, in 1996, and it quickly became apparent that her sculpture and her jewelry were more closely twined than one might initially imagine.  D’Arensbourg’s jewelry exists as sculpture in miniature, displaying architectural qualities both geometric and architectural. Indeed, it is as natural to think of her pieces as wearable sculpture as it is straight jewelry.

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“I look at my jewelry as wearable art that can be enjoyed and experienced physically as well as brought to everyone the wearer comes in contact with. I almost feel like I am tricking customers into buying art, since jewelry is much more accessible to the general public. I also feel that everyone should experience and enjoy art,” explains D’Arensbourg. “I feel like my glass jewelry is very grounding. It is super strong. I wear my glass necklaces and rings everyday. Wearing glass reminds you that nothing last forever, and to enjoy the present.”

D’Arensbourg has also created a line of rings that are cast in metal. This new amalgamation creates a hybrid look to the rings impossible to achieve in glass or metal alone. “I like the way the quality of the fluidity of the glass forms translates into metal. The rings look like they could be mirrored glass, or drops of mercury.”

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Initially imposing to the new observer, it is a pleasure to watch gallery patrons move from delicately examining and testing her rings to enthusiastically experimenting with their use and adaptability. HerDouble Triangle Ring can be worn several ways, depending on which finger or angle is preferred, while the Side Loop Ring presents an interesting puzzle for the wearer to solve.  

D’Arensbourg’s rings in particular most closely reflect her background in sculpture. “I look at the rings as if they are models for large scale sculpture. It's fun for me to design a ring that isn't so obvious how it is worn or that it's even a ring. Making a form that is comfortable and wearable as a ring and interesting on its own as a sculptural object is a fun challenge for me.”

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D’Arensbourg has also branched into lighting, another form of sculpture in many ways. Her lighting work was first showcased at Gallery Lulo in April of 2013. It was the first real launch of her lighting work, and very well received. She also designed and created the lighting for her husband’s restaurant, Fung Tu, in Manhattan. She notes, “I have been interested in creating sculptural lighting pieces for a while. A lot of my sculpture and installations utilize light as a way to create shadows when shining on the glass, which creates another layer to the work. Putting lighting in my work was a very natural progression. It was a great opportunity to do all the lighting in my husband’s restaurant. The designs that I created were influenced by Chinese lattice patterns. It was a very natural progression from the lighting I had developed up to that point.”

Amy Ruppel’s Nature-Based Monoprints

Also showcased in Illume are Portland-based artistAmy Ruppel’s monprints, which also experiment with the relationship between shadow and light. The monoprint technique creates a quality of light impossible to achieve from painting on paper, and uniquely combines painting, printmaking and drawing techniques. Essentially a printed painting, no two monoprints are alike. Known as the most painterly method among the printmaking techniques, monoprints use on no etched lines or textures in the plate surface.


Ruppel works primarily in the subtractive dark-field method, in which an entire plate is covered with a thin layer of ink. To create the image, the artist then removes ink from the plate using rags, brushes, elements from nature, and other tools. The medium is imbued with a sense of spontaneity, simplicity and uncertainty. Ruppel notes that she likes “that a swath of removed ink can be beautiful, and even more beautiful when it’s something unexpected. Working in the subtractive method, as I do, leaves a lot of room for happy accidents. There is no end to what kinds of marks one can make. I love that the ink pulls back, as if it doesn’t want to be removed from the plate. A give and take that emits surprising results.”


Ruppel has only been working in monoprints for the past year, but her interest in printmaking goes back to her undergraduate days at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While she has worked primarily as an artist and illustrator for many years, Ruppel has noted that working in ink has been a homecoming of sorts. This reintroduction to monoprints was enabled by San Francisco-based Three Fish Studios. Owner/artists Eric and Annie, good friends of Amy’s, sold her their Conrad etching press and drove it to her in Portland. From the time it was set up in her studio, she has been steadily producing prints.


Ruppel’s monprints reflect her love for and connection to nature.  Indeed, it seems difficult to imagine Ruppel’s art without a deep consideration for nature.  “I would be lost without nature. I grew up in the woods, and need to return to a forest often to ‘recharge’, so to speak,” notes Ruppel. “The Japanese know this is a necessity in life, and call it shinrin-yoku.A sort of medicinal forest bathing. Just ten minutes of nature exposure can improve clarity and refocus the mind. I am lucky enough to live a mere 25 minutes from the Columbia River Gorge, where there are an endless amount of hiking trails in lush forests above waterfalls and streams. I like to go out at sunrise and be the first on the trail. Not a bad way to start the day, and be inspired.”


All of the prints in Ruppel’s Illume show feature nature images:  moths, moons, antlers, and icebergs rise from her ink. “Many of my subjects derive from elements of nature that I am fascinated by. I like to create imagery that the painterly markmaking lends its unique qualities to… the soft hairs of a moths back, the texture of an antler, the surface of the moon. All are created by dragging a soft rag or brush across the surface of the ink, either by removing it or simply pushing it aside.”


As for the wabi-sabi nature of the monprint medium, Ruppel embraces it. “Each print is one of a kind. I can recreate the same image, but it will never be the same as the one before it. I love small imperfections, such as where my sleeve or wrist may have tapped the plate and pulled some ink away, which is not revealed until I pull a print. I love not knowing exactly what is going to appear on the paper. This would drive some people crazy! But I love it.”

Working in black and white, opposed to a multitude of colors, allows Ruppel to focus on the tension between darkness and light, and the importance of the lines of the prints. “Working in one dark color lets the texture and markings shine through. [Working in the] subtractive process—the taking away of ink from a fully covered plate to create an image—allows for so many subtle lines and patterns, completely unseen until a print is pulled and the ink has transferred to the paper.”

Illume runs from March 28 - May 31, 2015 at Shibumi Gallery.

Respecting the Gesture: An Investigation of Objects (Raissa Bump + Jonathan Anzalone)

Artist Profile, PressApril HigashiComment
Strandline: grouping

Strandline: grouping

On any given beach, it’s easy to find the strandline: just look for the length of driftwood, detritus, and scrap that create an undulating path upon the sand, directly above the water line. 

Jonathan Anzalone + Raïssa Bump

Jonathan Anzalone + Raïssa Bump

For jeweler Raïssa Bump and painter/woodworker Jonathan Anzalone, this debris field provides a wealth of material and insight for their show “Strand Line.” From such disparate inspirations as bottle caps, paper clips, and driftwood, Raïssa and Jonathan, who outside of this collaboration are also studio and life partners, have created a show that speaks to commodification and its inherent presence in even the wildest pockets of nature. However, instead of passing judgment on a culture of excess, “Strand Line” chooses to amplify moments of subtle beauty from these collected materials, displaying them in new ways through mobiles, kinetic and fixed sculpture, and jewelry.

“We did walk a lot on the beach, literally on the strandline collecting these things. It’s fun for us to go out and draw inspiration from it and to make things from these parts and pieces,” explained Raïssa. “This show is a culmination of years of collecting, and looking for colors, little bits of shape, and composition.” 

When asked about what they look for when walking the strandline, Jonathan explained, “You see those compositions and bits of color that are exciting and you bend down to pick them up it has a little story: there’s the beginning of what it was, it’s been worn down and weathered and became another shape, but still references something we often know. I like the idea of taking these pieces and arranging them and enabling one to see it from a different perspective, and quite beautiful when you put it in a different context and arrange it.”  

Indeed, Strand Line is a beautifully arranged exhibition. Raïssa and Jonathan went so far as to ask Shibumi Gallery owner April Higashi to hide the numbers identifying each piece for the sale directory during the opening. This way, the colors and shapes of all of the pieces weren’t marred by tiny round stickers. The resulting flow of the show, its interconnectedness of material and composition, is undeniable. 

Miscellaneous earrings; photo by tiny jeweler photography  

Miscellaneous earrings; photo by tiny jeweler photography

   Mesh Isosoles Triangle Earrings; mesh and sterling silver, copper. photo by tiny jeweler photography  


Mesh Isosoles Triangle Earrings; mesh and sterling silver, copper.
photo by tiny jeweler photography

A sense of interconnection, balance, and proportion all played large roles in the show. “Balance and proportion—or lack of—is a big part of both of our work,” explained Jonathan. “Balance is a recurring theme. We’re both formalists, colorists, minimalists, We both share that delicate balance and how sensitive some of these compositions are. They look very simple, but they’re highly considered.”

Mobile Detail photo by April Higashi

Mobile Detail
photo by April Higashi

Perhaps the most evident examples of this delicate balance are the mobiles that Jonathan and Raïssa created. The mobiles, including “Mobile Footprint,” “Confluent,” “Catenary,” and “Bow,” are a natural extension of both artists’ emphasis on balance, of creating harmony between all of the objects, whether they were found or made. “That’s where the idea of the mobile came from,” noted Jonathan. “It was a perfect way to have these objects exist together without a hierarchy. No one object was more important than the other, it’s just a balancing act and a collaboration between all of these materials.”

Bow; sterling silver, copper, found object, wood, 22k gold leaf, nylon. photo by tiny jeweler photography

Bow; sterling silver, copper, found object, wood, 22k gold leaf, nylon.
photo by tiny jeweler photography

A meditation on shape—particularly on grids, hexagons, and puzzles—also guides Strand Line, as does use of color. Raïssa’s background in textile design and techniques serves as a guide for many of the pieces in Strand Line in terms of both construction and color“I knew that for this show I wanted to bring back more color,” she explains. “Jonathan and I share a love for color, and it was great to bring color back for this exposition.” One of the most vibrant examples of color use is the sterling and fine silver, copper, and glass bead “Colorful Equilateral Triangle Brooch,” which consists of five separate shapes, including triangles, a square, and a rhombus, all of which can be rearranged, grouped, and worn however one desires.

As for the emphasis on shape, Raïssa explains that it was a helpful tool for focusing and creating boundaries. “We noticed in our studios separately that the hexagon was coming up at different moments. We also were interested in the tangram puzzle, puzzles in general, and how you can put things together in different ways. It was fun to see what can happen within the boundary of a shape, such as breaking a hexagon up into different shapes and putting it back together—the interknit possibilities of what can happen within a very structured pattern.”

In the end though, this show is primarily about respecting the gesture of each original material or object. For instance,Untitled, a mounted wall sculpture, is made from kelp, paint, and sterling silver. The kelp that Jonathan found on the strandline of the same beach was twisted in two arresting spirals. Jonathan cut a clean line on each end of the two spirals, bound them together, and painted one side black and one white. The resulting piece is a mesmerizing study in captured motion.

 “For me a lot of my studio practice is collecting these objects, having them around me, and sometimes using them,” explained Raïssa. “The ideas come to me through the making process. I save a lot of pieces throughout the years as explorations that don’t become finished objects the moment they’re made, but maybe years later. This show was an exciting way for me to level the playing field between high and low, between precious and not precious, between manmade and natural.”

Strand Line: Raïssa Bump and Jonathan Anzalone can be seen at Shibumi Gallery through October 5th. 

Written by Elka Karl

Polly Wales and Jo Hayes Ward

Artist Profile, PressApril HigashiComment

Shibumi Gallery, Berkeley, California, USA 

Missy Graff for Art Jewelry Forum


Opulence was on display from February 4–24 at Shibumi Gallery, located in Berkeley, California, USA. This exhibition featured works by two British jewelry artists—Polly Wales and Jo Hayes Ward. In this interview, Polly and Jo provide us with insight about their process and the concept behind their pieces. 

Missy Graff: Please tell me about your background. How did you become interested in making jewelry? 

Polly Wales: I initially studied sculpture, but I couldn't really come to grips with the convoluted language of fine art. It felt so removed. After a few years, I wasn’t sure why I was trying to communicate in what felt like such an indirect form. A few years later, my passion for making drove me back to the university, where I studied jewelry. I loved making for making's sake and making decisions from an aesthetic viewpoint rather than a totally intellectualized one. That said, for the first few years of my jewelry career I was still in pursuit of marrying the two, and it was while I was studying at the Royal College of Art (alongside Jo Hayes Ward) that I began my investigation into casting materials together. I was making jewelry that never had a perfect moment; a moment of shiny newness that heralded, somehow, the beginning of the end; or jewelry that demanded to be kept pristine, polished, and safeguarded. So, I started casting stones inside the metal, creating pieces that always had unique outcomes, and if worn forever and a day, would always be changing and revealing something new, the gold wearing away to reveal the stones buried within. This process became the backbone of my work.

Jo Hayes Ward: I have been making since I was a child. I started making jewelry out of wire and beads using my dad's soldering iron when I was about twelve. Years later, I learned metalwork and silversmithing at art school. I didn't actually make any jewelry until I began working as an assistant with three different London jewelers. This was an invaluable experience that led me to do a masters in goldsmithing at the Royal College of Art in 2004. Upon graduating, I launched my first fine jewelry collection.

Can you please describe the work you are presenting at Shibumi Gallery? 

Polly Wales: The pieces that I am showing at Shibumi are a selection from my Classic Crystal Collection, which have stones cast throughout. I also included some of my newer diamond and bridal pieces.

Jo Hayes Ward: I am presenting large structural rings and pendants constructed from hundreds of minute cubic or hexagonal units. Due to the faceting and textures on the units, the pieces catch the light in quite an unusual way and really come alive when worn. Also on display are interlocking hex rings in three shades of gold, again built from a shimmering pattern of angled hexagonal units and set with diamonds.


Jo, your jewelry reflects a geometric and digital aesthetic. What drew you to this style? How does this distinguish you from other artists in the field? Who are your major influences?

Jo Hayes Ward I love to build things, which is essentially what I do when designing jewelry. Early in my career, I discovered Computer Aided Design (CAD). I used it simply because I was unable to achieve the intricate and complex pieces that I wanted to make by hand. I now use 3D computer modeling programs and 3D printing as tools to craft much of my work. My influences are the artists Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, among others.


Polly, your pieces have an eroded look. What inspires your work?

Polly Wales: The look of the pieces was really an outcome of my experimental investigation into creating new materials. I wanted to create materials that change and evolve as you wear them. That process, in itself, became my sole pursuit. The aesthetic is very much defined by the process of casting the stones in place. It’s a pretty high risk and crazy way to work. I’m always trying to refine what I do and push what is possible at the same time.

Polly, who are your major influences? When I look at the images, I gather they are an eclectic mix of ancient and modern.

Polly Wales: I love Byzantine jewelry, Indian jewelry, and like every British jeweler, I am currently fascinated with the Cheapside Hoard. The women who wear my jewelry have also played a major role in how the collections have evolved. The work has been influenced by seeing how women wear it and live in it.

Were you familiar with each other’s jewelry before being chosen for this exhibition? Do you see any connections between your works? 

Polly Wales: Jo is one of my best friends! What we have is pretty unique. We have travelled parallel paths through our careers since we first met at the RCA. However, our work is so different that there has never been anything we haven't been able to share with each other. Jo's work is about meticulous thought and consideration. Everything in her work is exact. The outcomes are defined before leaving the computer screen. On the flipside, my work invites chaos at every step of the way, from making the waxes to the casting. I don't know what will come out until it's finished in front of me. All that said, I think we marry up pretty well. How well our jewelry sits together sums up our friendship nicely!

Jo Hayes Ward: Yes! We met 10 years ago on the first day of college at the RCA, and we have been best mates ever since! At face value, the aesthetics of our works are very different, but I think we tackle similar themes, and we both work with intricate detail and strive to make unique wearable treasures. I love what Polly does. We offer great support to each other.


Can you please tell me about the British jewelry community? Would you describe it as active? 

Polly Wales: We have a unique jewelry culture, and it is reflected in our jewelry community. It’s much smaller than elsewhere, and British women do not buy much fine jewelry for themselves. Stepping outside of the UK has been very liberating. It has given me so much freedom. I have found an amazing amount of support and friendship in the US, and that is where I feel like part of a community.

Jo Hayes Ward: There are a lot of very interesting and fantastic designers involved, but the market in the UK is very small and fairly conservative. Over the past couple of years, I have been part of a group called the Rock Vault. We show new work twice a year at London’s Fashion Week. The work is curated by the jewelry designer Stephen Webster and The British Fashion Council. The idea is to make fine jewelry from London more visible in the fashion industry. The venture has given me and the 10 or so other designers a great deal of international exposure. Last summer, we all exhibited at the Couture show in Las Vegas, something I am planning to do again this year. 



What are you reading that you can recommend? 

Polly Wales: It's been three years since I have read anything of substance. I will start again soon!

Jo Hayes Ward: Nothing right now. There is no time between running the business and family life. I have a two-and-a-half-year old plus a three-month old who keep me busy day and night!

Thank you.

Original article from the AJF blog can be found at: 

Karen Gilbert: Shift

Artist Profile, PressApril HigashiComment

Karen Gilbert is a designer, jeweler, mother, wife, partner in a glass business, and gallery owner. I don’t think she can fit one more thing on her plate. She is having a show with Shibumi Gallery, where owner April Higashi is pretty much in the same boat. How do these women do it…and do it so well? In this show called Shift, Karen has shifted the look of her jewelry to a simpler, more colorful style.

Susan Cummins: What is the story of your journey to becoming a jeweler?

Karen Gilbert: I became a jeweler by accident. I was a student at California College of Arts and Crafts in the painting department when I took an elective in the metals department and became mesmerized by the material of metal. I loved drilling it, sculpting it, torching it—all the tactile qualities appealed to me. I switched my major, and at the same time, became involved in the glass department. The two materials had the immediacy that I needed. I love to work quickly and to respond to my materials as I am working. After school, I worked for numerous jewelers, and that led me into creating wearable pieces. I loved that people actually wanted to buy and wear what I created, and that the relationship of maker and collector really gives meaning to art.

And what is the story of your journey to becoming a gallery owner in the town of Healdsburg, California?

Karen Gilbert: Healdsburg was chosen for the physical beauty of the location for our family and a real sense of possibility, along with its potential built-in clientele for a gallery. With luck, I met Katrina Schjerbeck, who also had passion for art as well as seeing the potential for a Healdsburg gallery, and we really needed each other to make a gallery work. I had the contacts and information on curating for the artists, and Katrina had the ability to manage and oversee the vision.


And what is the story of the collaborative design studio SkLO you started with Pavel Hanousek and Paul Pavlak?

Karen Gilbert: Through the gallery, I met our SkLO business partner Pavel Hanousek, who imports Czech glass from master glass artists in the Czech Republic. The aesthetics of his business were in desperate need of updating. My husband and I joined him, re-branded the business, and now are owners and designers of a glass-based design company. It has been a fascinating challenge to approach work as a designer instead of as the maker. What I love about SkLO is being able to work within one of the world’s great craft traditions—Czech glassblowers—yet having the freedom to make work that does not put technical skill before overall concept and design. Along with my husband Paul Pavlak, I have the opportunity to sculpt the entire vision of the company. It is a huge challenge that involves business savvy as well as creativity. SkLO is successfully growing and is finding a receptive market and critical acclaim.

You are super busy. How do you find time to make jewelry? How do you organize your life?


Karen Gilbert: My time is very tight. I have gone from a relaxed artist lifestyle to being a mother and owner of three businesses. I need a lot more structure in my life. I get up early, and I stick to a routine to get it all done. I think this is changing my work and the visual language that I see in my head, so it is an interesting new path. Jewelry has a much smaller part in my week, but when I am in the studio, it is still a really important time.

Does working with SkLO influence your jewelry designs? How?

Karen Gilbert: I am sure it does. Like I mentioned, it creates more structure, but it also needs to be thought about in terms of being a cohesive body of work. We talk a lot about branding and the language and look of SkLO being something someone knows when they see it. We are aware of this language but also conscious of keeping the audience on their toes. We don’t want to follow the trends, but to pay homage to them and to reflect on our modern society. With my jewelry, it is the same, yet a bit more of a personal commentary. I think of more personal issues with my own work, and with SkLO, I consider more universal issues of design.

This body of work you are showing at Shibumi seems to be a step away from work you have done in the past. There is less glass and more enamel, for example, and the designs are simpler. What is going on here?

Karen Gilbert: I think my influences are shifting. It sort of goes back to the question of time and structure. I personally love very minimalist artwork, but find that my mind does not work in those terms. I am trying to refine and make myself simplify without taking the depth away from the work. Sometimes the pieces want more, sometimes they want less. I am trying to create both dialogues. Also, enamel is just another form of glass that simply alters my technique. I love the endless colors that enamel allows. In the past, I have found it frustrating to use enamel because I don’t have as much control or ability to create my desired effect. I have chosen to really push and experiment with torch enameling, and I enjoy the process, seeing how far I can push it. I feel as though I am just getting started with these new techniques.


What do you think your jewelry does best?

Karen Gilbert: I really like the way my jewelry looks on people. It moves and is wearable in a way that can compliment an individual’s style. I like the tactile quality, that it is very three dimensional, and that almost every piece is different.

April Higashi, who owns Shibumi Gallery, and you are both jewelers who own galleries. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a maker and a dealer?


Karen Gilbert: It is nice having April to talk to about our shared experiences. I think having a gallery is an additional creative outlet that allows me to not feel like I always have to be producing in the studio. I love to see new work come in and fit it into our aesthetic. It is adding another stroke of paint to the painting, moving it around, and tweaking it to tell our story. I also can get excited about selling other people’s work. I enjoy seeing someone fall for another artist’s work as much as my own. It is a business that takes a ton of time and work. It may seem like galleries just get the work and sell it, but every artist, every piece, takes a lot of time and attention to get it ready to sell and to find the right buyer. At Gallery Lulo, I am fortunate to have a great partner in Katrina Schjerbeck.

Thank you.

Special thanks to AJF (Art Jewelry Forum) for writing and publishing this article.  Click here to visit their blog.