Studio Visit with Jeweler Catherine Grisez

Meet Catherine Grisez, a jewelry artist who paints with gems and transforms beer cans into large-scale sculpture. Catherine lives and works in Seattle’s South Park in an auto shop she and her father converted into artist studios surrounded by greenery.
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If you could only use 3 words to describe your work, what would they be?
intricate
organic
feminine

Tell us a bit more about your jewelry.
My work often originates from a personal narrative, reflecting my stories and life experiences through a visual representation. My goal in most everything I do, whether jewelry or sculpture, is to give people a moment of beauty or thought or insight that breaks the routine of the everyday.

In addition to jewelry, you make sculpture and spearheaded an enormous installation to hang over Seattle’s Duwamish River. Can you tell us a little about working on such different scales?
After focusing on small scale sculpture, it’s only been the last 5 years or so that I’ve returned to making jewelry. I love the immediacy and intimacy of working small and focusing on the beauty of an object. But I also crave the complexities of working larger so I’m now trying to balance out by doing both. It’s been interesting the last month or so as I’ve been working on Cultivate, a large public installation (the largest project I’ve worked on to date). One day I was setting tiny 2mm rubies in a commissioned necklace and hours later was sketching plans for a 60’ sculpture installation that will hang off a bridge. It’s odd, but I think I’ve always balanced out in extremes, so for now, this is working!

What do you enjoy most about your work as a jewelry artist?
I love the design process, problem solving to ultimately create something beautiful. In my sculpture I tend to focus everything around a central concept that takes days and days (and often months or years) of writing and thought and sketching before things are resolved. I love the immediacy of jewelry. Since the scale is much smaller and processes less involved, I can often finish a piece the same day I started. The work retains a fresh energy this way and the focus can be on the way the wearer expresses her sense of beauty through the jewelry. Plus I love playing around with color in gemstone form. It sometimes feels like I’m painting through rocks!

Find Catherine Grisez Jewelry on the KOBO site, or find a wider selection at either of our locations.

Photographs by Charissa Pomrehn for KOBO

Studio Visit with Jewelry Artist Ann Chikahisa

After several years of being a corporate sales executive, Ann Chikahisa was ready for a change. She decided to take a metalsmithing class and got hooked on making jewelry. With a friend’s encouragment, she hosted her first trunk show and sold 70 pieces in one night. She’s been creating ever since.

With a customer base that includes designers and architects, Ann has found a niche making wearable sculpture on a miniature scale. We visited her at her White Center studio in Seattle.

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You write, “Every piece I make is a journey.” Can you tell us the story behind a particular piece?
The journey begins with the wax. I take a piece of wax and play with it , using various tools to create texture. Next comes form. What shape will highlight the texture? Then I take the form and have it cast. The jewelry is then created from the forms and how I organize them and curate them. Every step is play and letting the moment happen. Sometimes my “oops” turn out to be the best pieces!

Tell us a little about how your family and culture has influenced your jewelry work.
I am a third generation Japanese American. I grew up in a creative household where my mother always was either sewing or knitting. As a child I loved to draw, paint and take art classes. Japanese culture is a huge influence on my work- wabi sabi is the essence of it.

What are your favorite pieces to wear right now?
My favorite pieces are the Stonehenge statement bracelet and the Stonehenge wrap necklace. [See them on Ann above. The wrap necklace is a single piece that’s wrapped and tied around her neck. Stunning!]

Find Chikahisa Studio jewelry on the KOBO site, or find a wider selection at either of our locations.

Photographs by Charissa Pomrehn for KOBO

Jewels Curnow

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1) Please introduce yourself! How would you describe yourself as an artist/creator?

  Jewels Curnow is a team of two – myself Robbie Curnow and my wife Chantay Curnow. We use
innovative setting and casting techniques. Many of our designs use a primitive style of casting in cuttlefish bone. The cuttlefish bone gives a unique texture and can create one-of-a-kind original pieces. I custom blend many of my own alloys and I hand select all of the gemstones. Each of our designs explores geometry and proportions found in nature.
2) Where are you from and how does this define you and your work?

My family moved to Seattle when I was a small child. They came from the Colorado area where they met through my great grandparents on one side and my grandparents on the other, who were in the same gem and mineral club.

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3) How did you get involved with your art, and what is your favorite part of your process?

 My biggest influence artistically was my great-grandmother June. She inspired me creatively – to look beyond the ready-made, past the mundane and into the infinite possibilities that can be expressed through the building blocks of matter. In terms of technical and scientific aspects of the craft my Grandfather taught me to see how things worked and how things interact together. This lead me to experimentation and try new things and trying to push the boundaries of normal jewelry making. He’s also the person who got me most interested in gemstones and mineralogy.
4) What are you excited about right now?       The upcoming trunk show at Kobo.
5) What is something you hope to accomplish in the next year?

This year I will have new and innovative designs I’m adding to my line and I look forward to everyone seeing these creations.

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