Meet Julie Powell: Jeweler Extraordinaire

Year after year I am struck by the creativity of our jewelers.  Oftentimes I will discover that in addition to making jewelry, they also design textiles or sculpture or wall art.  Enter Julie Powell, one of the newest additions to our jewelry department!

When I found Julie at a recent show, I was completely charmed not only by her beaded jewelry designs but also by the sketches she was working on in her booth while not engaged in conversation with buyers.  It reminded me that creative people use every spare moment to do what they most love.

Watercolor by Julie Powell

I love learning about these amazing designers after their jewelry has arrived in our office.  I research and read all the many pieces of information I can find in order to help our salespeople and customers know that behind every craftsperson there is an individual who has spent a lifetime learning his or her trade.

Julie’s story is a fascinating one.  She has a background in weaving, knitting, quilting, embroidering and dyeing fabrics, and has used this experience to design her beaded earrings, bracelets, pins and necklaces.  I was particularly delighted to discover that Julie is featured in the latest issue of Ornament Magazine.  I invite you to read her unique story and be dazzled by Julie’s immense gifts!

Artist Spotlight: Robin Cage

By Naira Ruiz

It’s been more than 35 years since Robin Cage decided to turn her passion for making high-fired pottery into a full-time career. These days, the Virginia-based artist is usually “up to her elbows in clay” in her studio in Richmond.

 

Cage’s work, which has been recognized by the Artisans Center of Virginia for excellence in design and craftsmanship, is known for incorporating a harmonious aesthetic with utility. Wonderful examples of this are the rust and green chip and dip, and hors d’oeuvre platters. These pieces feature graceful brushwork and come with a small bowl and tray that can be used together or separately.

 

 

Robin Cage pottery is also versatile color-wise, thanks to a neutral palette. Both the rust and green, and blue and white combinations could work with almost any décor and could easily be incorporated with serving pieces by other artists.

 

 

This is just one reason why her work is so popular with people shopping for themselves and people shopping for a gift. However, if you ask Robin Cage what makes her work so beloved, she’d probably say it’s the fact that it’s made by hand. In fact, this is a source of great pride. In an interview with Richmond Magazine last year, she had this to say:

“Each piece that I do, every single one, is mine from the time I wedge the clay and throw it until it’s fired and ready for the shelves. Each one has my fingerprints on it. It means something to me, and generally, I find it means something more to the person who receives it, as well.”

We couldn’t agree more!

 

You can check out a selection of Robin Cage’s pottery at Appalachian Spring here, or stop by one of our stores to see the quality design and craftsmanship of her ceramics.

 

Inside the Holly Yashi Studio

By Kylie Hiemstra

While driving up the California coast this spring, I noticed a billboard advertising the Holly Yashi studio. Having grown up admiring and proudly wearing lots of Holly Yashi pieces, I was excited by the chance to visit.

 

 

Once there, I met Paul “Yashi” Lubitz and introduced myself as Dawn Hill’s daughter. He was very friendly and eager to show me around the studio. I saw creative and detail-oriented people hard at work designing and crafting beautiful and unique pieces. Seeing all of the different tools and stations helped me understand the many steps in the process of making such intricate jewelry. My favorite part was watching niobium transform into the vibrant colors that are a hallmark of Holly Yashi’s pieces.

 

 

The store portion of the studio was full of bright and interesting items which I also got to explore. Visiting the studio gave me the opportunity to further appreciate the intricacies of Holly Yashi’s pieces and the labor that goes into making them.

 

 

Inside the Ed Levin Studio

 

Visiting the Ed Levin Studio was one of the highlights of my jewelry career.
I’ve long loved this studio for its fine quality and attention to detail, but
the thing I love most about Ed Levin Studio is its personal touch.

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Appalachian Spring has featured Ed Levin Jewelry for 48 years. Ed spent his
early years learning the trade in Argentina and continued to create art his
entire life. One of the highlights in visiting the Studio was seeing his early
sketches and designs. Ed combined classic and ethnic in an innovative way,
always keeping fashion and taste at the forefront of his creations.

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Color Your World

 

Ann Carol Bracelets

Janet Schroeder has been fascinated by Classical and Modern art from an early age.  When she was a teenager she discovered that she loved to create jewelry, and she began honing her skills to become proficient in silversmithing.  In 1999, Janet began working with Carol Baretz of Ann Carol Designs and was then able to combine her two passions.  Carol introduced Janet to resin enamel colors, and the two began to fabricate unique pieces of jewelry.
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Using sterling silver as a canvas, the resins are hand painted and then allowed to air dry. Meticulous care is taken to ensure that every detail of Ann Carol Designs jewelry is special and something to be treasured. Some pieces may take many cycles to fuse the colors into an intricately beautiful piece of wearable art.  The result is a beautiful treasure meant to last a lifetime.

Janet Schroeder

Janet Schroeder

Gardening in DC in April!

It’s springtime in DC and we are enjoying the bounty of the Cherry Blossom bloom!

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Photo credit Copyright: David M. Dworkin 2016.

 

Now all things turn to gardening and spending time outdoors.

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So we set out our birdhouses

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including our latest acquisitions from Five Ply

 

5 ply bird houses

and plant Carruth critters in the moist mud.

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And we wander back down to the tidal basin for inspiration.

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Photo credit Copyright: David M. Dworkin 2016

 

 

 

Dance Me to the End of Love

One of my favorite composers is Leonard Cohen, who wrote the well-known song “Hallelujah.” His songs convey his genius but also suggest a personal struggle, and his lyrics are hauntingly beautiful. My personal favorite is “Dance Me to the End of Love.” This YouTube video features Madeleine Peyroux singing a stunning version of Leonard  Cohen’s composition. The sound pierces me straight to my soul.

Being surrounded by art and music is a luxury in this world. My job as a jewelry buyer enables me to breath in the artistic gifts of others, and I never fail to be awed by the creativity of our craftspeople. The design team of  the Patricia Locke Studio is one shining example of such creativity.

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Patricia Locke collections always blend the depth of fine art with a modern sense of fashion. Her work is immediately recognizable for its distinctive asymmetry, tantalizing multi-metal combinations and elegant use of positive-negative space. Each piece presents an exquisite paradox, at once handsome and beautiful, organic and geometric, and contemporary with heirloom overtones.

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The Key to my Heart

David Klenk has been a woodworker in New England for the last 20 years. He designs and makes a diverse range of work including large projects such as home libraries, custom office furnishings, tables, chairs and jewelry boxes.

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Appalachian Spring is pleased present David Klenk’s handsome jewelry boxes in our collection.

Most of David’s boxes are made of North American hardwoods including maple, cherry and oak.  However, he occasionally uses mahogany and other handsome hardwoods.

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The work includes fine joinery, custom hardware and a hand rubbed varnish finish which is rubbed to a silky smooth polish.

Each box is fitted with a custom key and lock. The beauty of the wood, the workmanship and the attention to detail completely stole my heart!

 

 

We love Joanna Alot!

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Joanna studied silk painting and art in a traditional artisan school in Milanowek, Poland where more than a hundred years ago, mulberry trees were cultivated for the specific purpose of growing silkworms to supply the fiber for the renowned silk for which the region was rapidly becoming famous. She draws inspiration from nature using leaves, trees and the hues of changing seasons to spill out onto her silk paintings in vibrant colors and patterns.

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After composing and designing, Joanna transfers each pattern to the fabric by hand. Painting on silk achieves effects that go beyond the constraints of paper; colors blend and hues saturate. Starting with lighter colors, followed by darker colors, it is much like working with watercolor paint.

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Each swath of silk is steamed to set the colors, hand washed to to elicit the silk’s soft, smooth “hand” and then stretched on frames and sun-dried in the Midwestern air outside of Joanna’s studio.

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The fabric is then cut to order for the scarves, shawls and other fashion garments and finished with meticulous attention to detail. At this point Joanna adds embellishments, stamping with gold or silver leaf to highlight the natural elements found in her designs. Today, Joanna’s work can be found in galleries across the country and we are proud to be one of those galleries!

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Socks for Shelters

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Appalachian Spring is partnering with Solmate Socks to provide warm, knit socks to local shelters.  In recognition of the annual national celebration of American Craft Week in October, Solmate Socks will donate a pair of their socks for every pair purchased at Appalachian Spring stores in October to one of four local shelters in the metro DC area.

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Solmate Socks has been producing their colorful handmade socks in their family owned Vermont studios since 2000 and have been a part of Appalachian Spring’s merchandise collection for many of those years.  Known for their unique idea of creating pairs of unmatched socks, Solmate knits all their products from recycled yarns. The designs come from the sock lady herself, Marianne.

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American Craft Week began as a small, grassroots effort to enhance the knowledge and appreciation of handmade craft.  Now celebrating its sixth anniversary, American Craft Week is a well-established, national event celebrating the tradition of American craft in galleries, artists’ studios, museums, schools and festivals.  This year’s official celebration will be held Oct 3 – 12, and for the first time all 50 states are participating, including the District of Columbia, and US Army bases in Germany, Japan and South Korea.

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This effort will benefit clients at Georgetown Ministry Center, The Community for Creative Non-ViolenceClean and Sober Streets, The Embry Rucker Community Shelter and Stepping Stones Shelter. Please join Appalachian Spring and Solmate Socks in our Socks for Shelters Campaign.

Buy one, donate one!