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.

 

 

Celebrate Non-Traditional Wedding Gifts

By Naira Ruiz

Stumped on what wedding gift you should choose? We’ve got you covered.

We all know that weddings are a big deal. A lot of effort goes into making the event a day a couple will  cherish for the rest of their lives. Since we’re currently in the thick of wedding season, there’s a good chance you need to buy a gift for an upcoming wedding or two.

But what should you consider?

If you know the couple has a wedding registry, it makes choosing a gift somewhat easier. But if they don’t, or if you’re anxious to purchase them something that’s a surprise, it can  be a challenge.

Don’t let the wedding gift conundrum stress you out. Here are some gift ideas that will definitely be a hit!

If you don’t know their style… go with wood

Do they like bright colors, or are they more into subdued hues? You have no idea, so buying that stunning red vase is too much of a gamble. Since you’re not sure about their taste in décor, getting them something in natural wood is perfect because it goes with almost everything.

This hand-turned wooden bowl by Andrew Pearce would look gorgeous in any setting.

You can find a selection of his work here.

Another option is this puzzle board by Hardwood Creations. The leaf-shaped boards are designed to fit together in a multitude of arrangements. Continue reading>

Breathing in Good Design

In my travels, I sometimes have the pleasure of seeing jewelry that knocks my socks off. The geometry and architecture of Petra Meiren pieces remind me that good design is all around me if I just breathe it in.

meiren display
The earrings and necklaces are crafted with clean lines encompassing a contemporary sensibility. Petra uses textured gold and silver in simple shapes with subtle curves, and the result is wearable art that makes a strong statement.

.. a simple but striking home reminds me that folks all over the world take pride in craftsmanship and satisfying design.

sweden
I admired this home on a trip to Sweden’s North Sea coast. One of the things that struck me in this small town was the care and consideration to detail in gardens and homes alike. Many of these houses have been in their families for years, and great attention is paid to creating something handcrafted and beautiful that lasts for generations.

On a quick trip to Portland, Oregon last May, I admired these magnificent peonies at the Portland Farmer’s Market. Ahhh, good design in glorious color.

peonies