Sugar Grove Studio
Tell us about your business.I have been a goldsmith for 25 years, specializing in hand-fabrication and I utilize a wide variety of traditional metalsmithing techniques to create my contemporary sculptural pieces. I don’t do production work – each piece is unique. I have a strong background in science and it wasn't until after I finished my Master’s degree in Zoology that I even thought about becoming an artist. I am passionate about my art, but have not lost my passion for the natural world and its workings and the two meld in all my designs. In recent years we lived and worked in Bolivia, SA and that has influenced my designs strongly. We returned to settle in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and here I divide my time between my work and by two young kids - Neil, 12 and Lily, 10. I sell my work at juried art shows and through galleries, and I do a lot of commission work for individuals. As the kids get older I am looking for ways to bring my creativity and talents to a much wider audience.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.I have a fully equipped jewelry studio located here at my home in the midst of 32 lovely wooded acres in the mountains of Virginia. I am surrounded by nature, full of color and shapes that provided unending ideas for my designs. This is where I work, live and breathe. I have been able to create a work space that melds seamlessly with my home and family life and that supports and encourages my creative work. It is also apparently a fun place for my clients to come, see the studio, watch me work and be involved in the process of creating a piece that is uniquely theirs.
What inspires you?Everything. I am constantly influenced by the here and now as well as all my past experiences. In recent years we lived and worked in the tropical forests of Bolivia, SA and that has influenced my work strongly. We returned to settle in the mountains of Virginia, and to become parents and to build and expand my creative work. Color, light, shapes and scents, the intricacies of nature – it all plays into my creative process. I can see what influenced most of my work, but some influences I don’t see until after a piece is designed and often I am surprised by the outcome……… I was working on an abstract female form, arms raised and dancing, and my daughter kept coming into the studio, hands on her hips and tapping her foot, wanting me to do something. As I worked on the design the "arms" kept coming down to the side of the figure rather than being raised, like my daughter with her hands on her hips. Go figure.
What makes your business stand out?I guess that would be me. I am the creative force, and the only one that can design and create my work. Each piece comes from me, the whole of me, and I am blessed that so many find beauty and enjoyment in what I create. I love working with people - getting to know them and sharing experiences and watching them develop a connection with my work. It is those personal connections with my clients that, I believe, allows me to design that very personal and meaningful piece that is uniquely theirs.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Dare to play, dare to fail, dare to try and try again, dare to believe in yourself. Having faith in yourself is one of the hardest things - it is so easy to get bogged down in self-doubt, especially when success or failure hinges solely upon yourself. Learn to breath, take that deep breath, and go. If you hit a wall, breathe and go again. Never quit believing in yourself.
What does American Made mean to you?Here, in this soil and this culture. I am fortunate to live in an area of the country - the Appalachian Mountains - that has a rich cultural and artistic history that is now the basis for a growing economy. This region has a deep rooted cultural tradition that is expressed in the artwork from the area - whether traditional or modern and contemporary, it all has a story to tell. I am honored to be an Appalachian artist and I know the regions beauty that I see reflected in my work can only come from this part of America.
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