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Studio Tours

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Judi Powers

December 11, 2014

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

When I received the smile-from-ear-to-ear news that I would be visiting Judi Powers’ workspace for a studio tour, I didn’t even try to hold back my excitment. As the go-to person who organized the design challenges from our Brooklyn headquarters, it wasn’t every day that I was able to schmooze with our talented design challenge winners in person. And being Judi’s number one fan girl, I knew this studio tour would be a special one.

I first met Judi at one of our How To Make It design events – not knowing that she was one of our contestants who submitted an entry into our Jewelry Design Challenge months before. I complimented the gorgeous necklace she was wearing, and that’s when she revealed to me that she actually tried to submit that same piece into one of our past Jewelry Design Challenges and didn’t make it into the semi-finalist round. I immediately knew which entry she was speaking of – a poorly lit photo that didn’t capture the beautiful craftsmanship I saw in person. I told her to submit again with better photos, and didn’t think I’d hear from her anytime soon. Less than a month later, Judi sent in another submission except this time – with much better photos. After passing through three rounds of judging and receiving samples of Judi’s work, it was apparent that the jewelry judges were in love with the handmade A Tree Grows Necklace and crowned her our next jewelry grand prize winner.

Since then, Judi has repeatedly told me that her jewelry career has blossomed. She’s added two more lovely designs into our assortment (including this eye-catching Ear Climber) and has become an irreplaceable member of the shared space studios of Brooklyn Metal Works tucked away in the streets of Brooklyn — where she creates more of her nature-inspired pieces. Meet Judi Powers, an artist and advocate for sustainable jewelry, positive thinking, and good ol’ second chances.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Where do you find inspiration within this space?
I have two separate workspaces: my drawing table at home and my studio. I intentionally keep them separate. For me, the design process can be a really slow one so once I get to the studio I’m eager to start fabricating in wax or metal. Brooklyn Metal Works is more of a place of motivation for me. I look around at all of the talent, tools, and equipment that surround me and I can’t help but feel inspired to sit at my bench and be productive. Whenever I go to the studio, I’m just happy and excited!

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What are your most essential tools?
Files, my saw, a rawhide mallet, the blowtorch, and my flex shaft are the tools I can’t live without. I know I’ll read this later and think “how did I forget to include that tool!”.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
Well, I’m a “new” designer but not a young designer. I had a 22-year career in publishing that really helped me on so many levels, mostly on those related to business. I suppose the toughest lesson I’ve learned (even though I already knew this) is that you hear dozens of nos before you hear one yes. Also, having a daily schedule is key! It’s amazing how quickly a day passes when there’s no structure in it and, at the end of that day, it’s frightening to see how much you “didn’t” accomplish.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How did you come up with the concept of your product?
I thought about the special pieces of jewelry I’d received throughout my life and the memories I have around them. I wanted to create a collection that had special meaning for my customers and me. Every time I create a new design I tell a story about a special moment or place (despite a career in publishing, I never aspired to be a writer, but I do have a desire to tell stories via my jewelry). There are pieces in my collection that are inspired by my childhood in the country, travels in Asia, and my daily life in Brooklyn.

My education at a Rudolf Steiner High School also relates to my product. It’s because of the lessons I learned there about caring for our environment and our neighbors that I decided to do everything I possible to run an environmentally and socially responsible business.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Oh, there’s so much advice I’d give! Hearing “no” is never easy: get comfortable with that discomfort. Build a network of people who are happy to help you via professional organizations and educational settings. Don’t expect to know everything in a day. Be patient and be persistent. Stay organized. Don’t judge yourself so harshly!

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How do you set goals for yourself?
This is an ever-evolving process that I’m still trying to perfect. I think about where I want to be in six months, a year, and five years from now and what I need to do get there. My goals always change but they never fail to be about the longevity of my business.

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I know this will sound cliché but every day that I get to wake up and live my dream is a celebration. Being a professional jeweler is both my victory and my reward.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
I recently put this quote by Amelia Earhart over my desk: “The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” It’s really scary to walk away from a stable career in order to pursue something you love but that’s completely untested and uncertain. This quote is my daily reminder to confront the paper tigers and to see the process of major change as a component of the joy that comes from having the job you never thought was possible.

Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Down time usually entails chatting with my studio mates about the projects we’re working on. I’m very lucky to work in a collaborative space with so many incredibly talented people. And, I make the occasional run to Ample Hills for an ice cream break. My father instilled a life-long love for ice cream in me and it’s both a reward and a pick me up when I’m working at the studio.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
If there were countless hours in the day—and if I were a better time manager—I’d take classes ALL THE TIME! I take classes where I learn new techniques, such as various forms of stone setting, and I’m always working to run a better business. Investing in learning both practical jewelry skills as well as business skills is really key to running a healthy business.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How do you recharge your creativity?
I recharge my creativity by going to Montauk. It’s a really special place for me and I get so much inspiration there. I can stare at the ocean for hours. I can spend a whole afternoon beach combing. And my dog loves to run and play on the beach, which is a real treat for me too.

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I’ve been very honored to have a number of custom orders and those are always collaborative. My clients come to me with an occasion or idea in mind, we discuss it, I make sketches, and then we work on the final design together. I love doing custom work because it is collaborative, because I get the honor of sharing in someone’s happy occasion, and because there’s always a story to it. And I admittedly love to tell stories!

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Judi Powers Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ronda J Smith

November 14, 2014

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Studio tours are one of my favorite things about being a part of the blog team here at UncommonGoods; it’s impossible for me to leave a creative space and not feel fascinated, energized, and most of all – inspired. (Okay, and maybe a wee bit jealous.) There’s always new designer lingo, unusual tools, or interesting processes I discover when stepping inside a vendor’s creative haven, and my social media-obsessed alter ego immediately wants to Instagram and tweet everything I see.

Ronda J Smith’s In The Seam studio is absolutely no exception. From her super-duper mega printers to real life Pinterest-like wall quotes and images to her beloved chair that’s showered with eye cut-outs, my curiosity ran wild – and then ran some more. Yet, as much as I adored her studio, it wasn’t exactly In The Seam’s home that got me pumped up for life and wanting to run out the door to simply make something, anything. It was Ronda. She led me to not only feel like I took two shots of espresso, but was ready to conquer the world. I was on a high. Ronda’s energy and enthusiasm towards her craft, projects, and space was overwhelmingly contagious and uplifting. It taught me that whatever I’m doing in life – I should always have that much passion for it, nothing less.

Meet spunky Ronda J Smith, maker of our Indulgent Foods, Elements of NYC, and Custom Pet Pillows. Step inside her studio and be prepared to feel your creative juices flow.

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How did you come up with the concept of your product?
The idea came while I was relaxing with my cat, Keywan, one afternoon and decided to take his picture. Inspired by my love of photography and sewing, I decided to print the image on fabric, cut it out and sew a pillow. That’s how In The Seam got started.

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
The toughest lesson is learning to run the business.  I went to school for photography, not business or marketing.  I’ve learned so much and have enjoyed the challenge. I must thank Google and my family and friends – I’ve asked them all a lot of questions along the way!

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I’m working on extending my product line and brand! I want to use my photographs on other objects so I can produce more items in addition to pillows.

What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford. This quote means anything and everything you want it to mean.  Your thoughts and mindset are more powerful than you could ever imagine.

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I celebrate everything, every step, even the small stuff with a jump and high-five!

How do you set goals for yourself?
I write them down in sharpie on my calendar.  Once I write it there, it’s pretty much set in stone and I must follow through.

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What are your most essential tools?
My most essential tool is my camera, which is obvious. Besides that, I couldn’t live without my strong sturdy silver spoon, I use the tip of the handle to inside-out the tiny corners and crevasses of each pillow.

Where do you find inspiration within this space?
Tucked in my tiny office surrounded by all my boxes and “stuff”.  I feel safe and secure.  It gives me the ability to concentrate and create.

Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
It doesn’t. I’m not even sure what down time means!

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I collaborate with someone each and every time a custom pillow is created.  Customers send me the image they envision me to cut and shape into a pillow.  I print, cut, and sew that pillow for them.  Custom Pet Pillows are a large part of my business, it keeps me on my toes. And with the cast of characters that come out of my printer, it keeps me smiling too!

What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Learn to negotiate and don’t undersell your products.  You can’t let people take advantage of you, especially when you are crafting a handmade product.  Which is tough advice sometimes, because I always want to make everyone happy.

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How do you recharge your creativity?
I recharge by either taking a long walk around the city, or a long weekend away from the city. I always have my camera at hand, so the work is never far, but it gives me a chance to step away from my studio and get some fresh air.  If I’m close to a body of water and can take a swim that helps too.

Ronda J. Smith Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Maggy Ames

October 10, 2014

Maggy Ames | UncommonGoods

One morning a few weeks ago I woke up extra enthusiastic. I couldn’t wait to get to work. That’s because my work day started with a trip into Manhattan to meet an artist whose work I’d loved since the moment I saw it on our tabletop buyers’ sample shelf. I was going to meet Maggy Ames, the maker of the some of the most beautiful stoneware bowls I’d ever seen.

When I got to Maggy’s space, one of the last working corroborative pottery studios in Manhattan, I was happy to see that she was as enthusiastic about the start of the work day as I was. She was ready to start throwing pottery, but she didn’t mind taking a moment to show me and UncommonGoods Photographer Emily around first. We snuck a peek at the kiln room just in time to see a fresh batch of bowls come out, watched Maggy’s team weigh and prepare clay, caught a glimpse at the secret formulas for a few glaze colors, and admired how the clay dust that seemed to touch everything in the studio made the place even more magical.

After our introductions and a little exploring, we watched as Maggy transformed a large, lumpy ball of clay into an exquisitely curved bowl–something she does about 15 times on an average day. Watching the process was certainly inspiring. Talking with Maggy, who’s been making pottery for 30 years and retired from law to became a full-time artist 5 years ago, gave me a much welcome creativity boost too. Whether you’re looking for little motivation to get making, some inspiring words of wisdom, or just some beautiful photos of art in the works, I hope you’ll love meeting Maggy and seeing her studio as well.

Maggy's Hands

What are your most essential tools?
Fingers and finger memory! When you have to throw dozens and dozens of pieces that must fit precisely together with virtually the same shape and size every single time, you really rely on your fingers to have their own muscle memory and just “do it.” After making literally hundreds of these 3-piece sets over the years, I count on my hands to know their job without my head getting in the way.

Maggy Ames throwing bowls

Where do you find inspiration within this space?
In the kiln room. We have 13 potters in total who work in this studio. Though many of us studied at the same places over the years, we each have a distinct style that comes through. Watching the endless variations — and totally new approaches — of 13 individual artists go through the various stages in our kiln room is endlessly inspiring. I can’t count how many times a week I have an “oh, wow” moment in that kiln room.

Nesting Bowls | UncommonGoods
Nesting Bowls | UncommonGoods

Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Our studio has developed into a really supportive clay community. Over the years, we have developed the habit of gathering around the lunch table for downtime, personal interaction, and good old gossip! It is a wonderful benefit that you don’t get if you work in a solo studio.

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
You simply must do retail shows before you can do wholesale. You have to watch the customers: What do they pick up? How do they hold it? What are they saying to you? What are they saying to each other when they think you’re not listening? Even after developing my wholesale business, I still do at least two or three retail shows a year so I don’t lose touch with my customers.

Clay tools
Level

What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Don’t be afraid of the big leaps. One way or the other you will get it done. You can decide after it is finished whether you liked it enough to do it again. But if you never take the leap, how will you ever know?

In Progress
Mirror

How do you set goals for yourself?
I am trying very hard NOT to set goals for myself. I am in a different position from many younger artists, since I am supposedly retired (big laugh!). I concentrate on only doing what feels right to me at this moment. I don’t know how I will feel about things from year to year, but I know how I feel right now; I don’t want to be locked into any “master plan” and I don’t want to miss any unexpected opportunities that pop up out of nowhere!

Foot Pedal
Scale

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
Everything that looks beautiful to me as it comes out of the kiln, everything that comes out fitting perfectly together, every major order that gets out on time — these are all victories of varying degrees and I make it a practice to grab every opportunity to be happy about my work. There are enough challenges in this business, so you have to grab the smiles when they come along.

At the Wheel

What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
I don’t have a favorite quote, but I have a favorite mantra for myself and for my workers: “Who is using this? Who is using this? Who is using this?” My work is very functional and that is something I take great pride in. My goal in pottery is that customers will experience everyday utilitarian objects as works of fine craft, but that won’t happen if the piece doesn’t fit easily into their routines. Does it feel good in your hand? Does it slide in and out of the oven? Are the edges smooth to the touch? Is it easy to clean? Is it easy to store? In other words, “Who is using this, and how is it working for them?”

Special Handle

How do you recharge your creativity?
MOMA. I never get tired of wandering through [The Museum of Modern Art] and seeing sizes, shapes, colors, lines, styles. The endless things that people do with style is fascinating. It is my idea of a perfect afternoon!

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
In a studio of 13 people collaboration is just sort of a natural by-product. There is always someone looking for an idea as to how to do something, and there is always someone who has an idea how to do it! There are so many wonderful pieces that come out of our kilns that literally could not have been produced without the input, advice, and creativity of others in our clay community.

In the Works
Nesting Stoneware Mixing Bowls | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Margaret Dorfman

September 9, 2014

Margaret Dorfman | UncommonGoods

As the UncommonGoods Jewelry Buyer, I see amazing artistry from artists and designers using all sorts of materials. We are always delighted when we find an artist who uses uncommon materials in an unexpected way. Margaret Dorfman is one such artist. She transforms fruits and vegetables into parchments that she then uses to make gorgeous bowls, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.

Margaret’s relationship with UncommonGoods has been a long one, dating all the way back to 1999. Fifteen years later, she continues to delight us and our customers with her lovely organic creations. As a huge fan of Margaret’s work myself, I was super excited to meet her and learn about her process.

Margaret’s studio is tucked away on a lovely tree lined street in Oakland, California. I knew I had arrived at the right place as I walked down the path to her studio entrance. That morning, before my arrival, she had received a delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables and the walkway was lined with boxes and bags containing all imaginable varieties of fruits and veggies. I saw pears, oranges, papayas, cabbages, and bell peppers just to name a few!

Orange Earrings

Stepping into Margaret’s space was truly like stepping into a secret garden. Shelves were lined with finished pieces and the vivid jewel toned colors of her work popped against the crisp white walls. On the center table of her work space, she had oranges piled high and had pulled finished pieces made from oranges so I could see the “before and after.”

Margaret was lovely–so warm and welcoming–and she let me pepper her with questions about herself and her technique. I love hearing about the path our artists take to doing what they do. Margaret’s path was an uncommon one; she spent many years as a professional sign language interpreter, before leaving in 2001 to concentrate on her art. In seeing her work with such dexterity as she cut into fruits and vegetables, I could see the connection between her years as an interpreter and her current work as an artist.

Holding up her pressed vegetable parchment sheets to the light was magical – the pieces are translucent, and you notice every detail of the intricate structure of the vegetables and fruits. The colors in her pieces are vivid. I was struck by how the original colors were retained, even after being pressed.

As our visit came to a close, Margaret introduced me to her frequent studio-mate, her cockatoo Bindel, a sweet boy with a spirited personality! It was a such a delightful end to a great visit. Meet Margaret and learn more about her colorful world!

Veggie Parchment | UncommonGoods

What are your most essential tools?
My mandolin. It a special cutter that lets me calibrate the thickness of the veggies and fruit slices. I have four of these and around 40 blades that are sharpened weekly.

My other essential tools are my custom-made marine hydraulic presses. I have two hydraulic presses, both of which were designed and custom built for me. They are are quite large and heavy, exerting pressure of 175 plus and 125 tons, respectively. They are made of steel and were brought in pieces and welded into place in my studio. One is 7 feet tall and the smaller one is 6 feet tall with a pressing surface of a 3 1/2 ft squaremand 4 1/2 ft square, respectively.

Where do you find inspiration within this space?
Often just looking at the slices of vegetables or juxtaposition of the parchment sheets will give me new ideas.

I like to keep my studio as unadorned as possible–lots of bare white walls–so as not to have competing visual “noise.”

Cutting Veggies
Veggies

Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
I do usually work 7 days a week and more hours than I`d like to admit. I have a fairly strict schedule in my work day. I try to take a long walk in the morning before starting work.

My 16-year-old cockatoo, Bintel (his name means “a little bundle” in Yiddish), joins me in the studio most days and his antics and demands for attention certainly provides ongoing work breaks.

My husband and I make sure we have dinner together every night, and that is always a time to relax and recharge.

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
Not to over promise in quantity to be delivered or dates to be made–and never, ever skimp on quality. There is nothing that will ruin your reputation faster than either not delivering on time or delivering an item not up to standards.

Sometimes things do happen that are out of your control, and having a strong track record as someone who follows through on commitments will see you through these bumps in the road.

What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
There will always be new and exciting ideas to try. Always make sure that there is time and enough space put aside to experiment and answer those most interesting questions that start with the phrase “What would happen if I…”

trays

How do you set goals for yourself?
I make a variety of items from fruit and vegetables: vessels, kites, garlands, as well as several lines of jewelry. I work with galleries, museum shops, gift shops and of course UncommonGoods! Usually my goals are set for me via the orders I need to fill.

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
A victory or unexpected success usually involves a dinner out with my husband. One that includes chocolate!

What quote keeps you motivated?
“Greatness exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked.”-Leonard Koren. Koren wrote the first book on the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi, long before it became somewhat of a cliché.

This quote resonates with me because it speaks to a way of seeing and being in the world — and of finding beauty in overlooked and commonplace things- like fruit and vegetables.

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I’m trying to refine my skills in what I do–stretching the limits and working on making more complex, multi-layered jewelry and larger, more sculptural pieces.

Veg_Parchment

How do you recharge your creativity?
I love going to Farmers Markets and seeing what is new and seasonal. I am lucky to live in an area where there are not only lots of Farmers markets, but also multicultural neighborhoods where ethnic produce markets are plentiful. Chinatown, Koreatown, and the Hispanic area are all places nearby where I can see unusual varieties of fruit and vegetables that spark my imagination.

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I am a bit of a loner, and so I haven’t done much collaboration with other artists. I did do a line of handmade shoji screens (daikon with fish and seaweed parchment) with master Japanese craftsmen whose family have made shoji for 300 years. I would love to collaborate with a professional woodworker who would be interested in some projects! (Anyone?)

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio With Deborah Stotzky and Erwin List Sanchez

August 15, 2014

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Erwin List Sanchez and Deborah Stotzky are exactly who you would imagine when you think of partners who design Yoga Jewel Pendants for a living : peaceful, positive, and calm. After only five minutes of chatting with the couple and exploring their home, they were no longer just the “Yoga Jewels” designers in my mind, but simply Erwin and Deborah.

I knew the moment I walked down their quiet East Village street that I was about to be welcomed into one of the most charming home studios I’ve ever seen. Their street is the kind of street I wished to move to when I first thought about moving to New York City ten years ago based on all of the NYC-based movies I watched. (Just to name a few: Manhattan, You’ve Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally.) And by no surprise, my assumption was proven correct when I stepped into their apartment and found myself gawking around as if it were a quaint museum that I just so happened to run into on a Sunday stroll.

I immediately could tell everything that they hung on their walls or displayed on their shelves carried a personal story. “We brought that back from Mexico,” “Erwin designed this, actually,” “We took that photo,” and “We found those on the ground. Can you believe it?” were some of the comments Deborah would say when I inquired on an interesting piece. I loved that their studio had a memory tucked behind every corner– with their work table stationed in the middle of their home —  inspiration was always just at an arm’s length.

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How did you come up with the concept of your Yoga Pose Pendants’ design?

Erwin: I’m a sculptor and work with various materials.  Although I’ve always made jewelry, in terms of pure sculptures I was more accustomed to working on a much larger scale.  I’m from Mexico and always had outdoor space to make art.  But when I first moved to NYC and into our small, Chelsea apartment, I quickly realized that if  I wanted to make art, I would have to work on a much smaller scale!  That’s how the jewelry idea was born. Deborah practices yoga a lot, so I got the opportunity to see a lot of yoga positions.  I started to sculpt the poses I observed.

Deborah: A friend of ours, Saya Hibino, who is a beautiful jewelry designer saw some pieces and really encouraged us to make a collection.

You were a semi-finalist for one of our Jewelry Design Challenges. How did you discover our contest?

D: Another friend and extremely talented artist named Jennifer Mahlman is a fan of UncommonGoods and saw the Jewelry Design Challenge advertised.  She emailed it to me the day of the entry deadline and we dropped everything to make sure we got our entry in on time!

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Tell us about your journey towards becoming an artist.

E: I’ve always made art, since I was a kid.  And invented things too.  I would come up with new ideas and try to figure out how to make them.

D: Like a magnetic race car set, at age 5!  Art was around him and it became a way for him to express himself.  He made clay animals.  He loved to walk along the railroad tracks and there he collected hundreds of huge nails from which he made an amazing collection of life size animals. He studied art in Toluca, Mexico and then moved to Cozumel, Mexico to scuba dive.  There he made art with found materials like coral, beach wood, horseshoe crab shells – beautiful work.  Nature and animals are subjects that constantly come up in his work.  I remember the first piece of jewelry he made for me was a piece of round coral dipped in sterling silver.  It was inspired by a full moon. That’s when I fell in love with the guy!

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What freedoms do you experience as artists?

E: You have the freedom of your mind.

What does yoga mean to you?

D: Yoga is like the foundation of my life.  From there everything else grows.  It hasn’t always been that way, but for about the last 12 years it has.  I do yoga as often as I can, daily if possible.  And I teach yoga weekly, give yoga retreats in Mexico, and I’m a part of a huge yoga community.  Yoga helps me live my life more in the way I want to live it.  When I fall, it helps me get back up.  It’s a powerful way to spend some time daily. Also, I am not a huge technology lover but surprisingly to me, social media influences me a lot too – between Yoga Jewels and teaching yoga I am connected to so many yogis around the world.  It is  mostly a pretty inspiring community of people, with insightful things to say and amazing photos to share.

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

What different techniques and tools do you use when creating your designs at your studio?

E: I use the Lost Wax Process when creating Yoga Pose Pendants.  We’re always thinking about different finishes for the pieces and we are starting to set gem stones in our designs as well.

Can you walk us through the step by step process of creating your Yoga Pose Pendants?

D: Sure.  We usually discuss which poses we think would make a beautiful necklace.  Then I ”strike the pose” for Erwin to see it in the flesh. We also look online for photos of beautiful examples of the pose, done correctly with proper alignment and from different angles.  Our Lotus Pose was based on a lovely photo of Christie Turlington and our Bow Pose was based on a photo of yoga teacher Baron Baptiste, who was the very first person I trained with to become a Yoga Instructor.

Once we have the pose selected and great photos to work from, Erwin begins to sculpt it in wax.  We then create a mold and ultimately cast it in various metals.  We normally use sterling silver, 14k yellow, and rose gold.  Then the pieces are polished or finished in some other way.

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Were you first attempts of making these jewels a success? 

D:  They were a success from the beginning.  The first two pieces Erwin made were the Wheel and Bow poses.  When I first saw them completed, I was very moved. They truly capture the grace and strength it takes to do these poses.  They have spirit and movement, it is so cool to see people try them on, because when someone finds “their pose” it just comes alive on them!

Where do you find inspiration within your home studio?

D: I find inspiration when I teach and practice yoga at home.  Both Erwin and I are inspired by nature; I think it helps us return to our natural knowing. It’s very uncomplicated.  It’s hard to connect to nature in NYC – but not impossible.  We try hard to have a super calm environment and we try to surround ourselves with pretty things that feel organic in some way – shape, tone, texture.  We love skulls and bones and flowers and pottery.  And we are both really neat and clean, which goes a long way when you live and work together in a small space!

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

How do you create a work-life balance, not just as a couple and as business partners, but also individually?

D: That’s probably the biggest challenge for us, both as partners and individually. Erwin teaches scuba diving and is a photographer.  I am studying herbs, particularly those that grow in the Northeast of the US.

The pros of being a couple and business partners is that it’s really fun and rewarding and we are an excellent team. The con is that we work a lot!  Which I guess really isn’t a con, because we feel really lucky about it all. I thought technology was supposed to make things easier! And it does in some ways, but  it also makes us reachable at all times.  And our minds are constantly going – new ideas,  looking at art, receiving new orders – there’s a lot of mind stimulation!  And that is what we want, of course, but sometimes we need to stop, be present and just be. This area of life, the balance between work and the rest of life is really challenging for us.

So we go out with our dog, Ella (who fell in love with the UncommonGoods crew when you all met!), and walk along the Hudson River everyday. We try to see the sunset as often as possible. We love to be in the country with Ella as well. And Erwin and I love to travel together.  We first met in Mexico and go there often, as Erwin’s family is there.  But we are going to Thailand in the fall and I cannot wait!  And because it’s summer, if we are in the country on Saturdays, we wake up early and drive around to all the yard sales!  We get great stuff!

If you’re not a yoga fan – would you recommend Yoga Pose Pendants to someone?

D: Certain poses I would!  From a distance, the Bow Pose appears to be a beautifully sculpted circle until you get up close and see it’s a person doing a Bow Pose!  And that pose is really about opening our hearts so it is a great message for everyone.  A non-yogi once told me that she wore Bow Pose over her heart to remind herself to live life with an open heart.  I thought – YES!  She has totally gotten the deeper meaning of yoga and what we are thinking about with Yoga Jewels!

Are there any major projects, collaborations, or ideas you’re working on now that you want to talk about?

E: We are constantly working on new ideas for jewelry and sculpture and ways we can use our work to raise money for causes that are important to us like animal conservation.

Yoga Jewels Studio Tour | UncommonGoods