We got the opportunity to have a virtual sit-down with talented fine artist and designer, Ruth Koelewyn, about her work, process and inspiration. Her gorgeous pieces are minimalist and timeless; luxe yet suitable for everyday wear. We can’t wait to see what she crafts up for Arts on the Square.
Tell us a little about your company and what inspired you to start it.
I’ve been in business actually selling things since last November. I was inspired to make the move to an independent artist in large part because of the example Valerie Kiser sets. She’s an incredible worker and a great designer. Her success in her business made me think about working for myself more. I took a class on arts businesses, and from there started to make work. It’s been hugely rewarding thus far, and I am very excited to meet more of the local art and design community at Arts on the Square. It is always inspiring to meet new people and see new work!
How did you learn your craft? Do you have formal training? I started studying jewelry making in a community class when I was twelve, and took the class two years straight. In high school I went to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and studied metalsmithing in more depth. From there I knew that metal and jewelry was my passion, and went to Syracuse University for my BFA in Metals and Jewelry, then Cranbrook Academy of Art for my MFA in Metalsmithing. In the summers I worked as a bench jeweler for another designer, learning more about the fine jewelry industry and how to run a business.
What kind of materials do you use to make your work? How long does each piece take to make? I normally use sterling silver for my work, but I also use gold and platinum occasionally. My jewelry pieces take between one and four hours to make, but more complex pieces can definitely take more time.
How would you describe your style & where do you find inspiration? My work is minimal. I try to strip away anything from the piece that isn’t absolutely essential to the composition and experience of the work. Jewelry is inspiring in how people use it to define who they are and change their own style on a daily basis. I am thinking here of wedding rings, lockets, or fashion accessories. Earrings are especially interesting to me, because the jewelry and skin are in a direct relationship unlike any other sort of jewelry. The space under the ear allows the earring to be very sculptural, but the earring also needs to respond to the body in a very sensitive way. I like the extreme limitations, and paradoxically the extreme freedom, of this design challenge. While I work on other pieces I design earrings much more than any other type of jewelry.
What items will you be featuring at the Arts on the Square festival? I will be presenting earrings primarily, especially some new work that I’m designing now that explores different textures I can make and the act of touch.
What is your most popular item? The Folded Rosettes. They are sterling silver stud earrings made from recycled material left from other projects. I love making them and people love wearing them. They have a lot of visual depth and play of light, plus they are lightweight and easy to wear.
What are your can’t live without craft room essentials? A pot of tea and natural light.
How do you make your workplace an inspiring place to be? I try to have objects around that display some characteristic I am aiming for. Right now I have different textures and bubble wrap on my walls. I basically treat the whole room as a pin board, but with objects, not images.
Will you be demonstrating your craft at Arts on The Square? If so, tell us a little about it… I won’t be demonstrating my jewelry making. Jewelry requires a fair amount of tools and I use a jewelers bench that is a little large and heavy to move around. But I am always willing to show people around the studio if they want to visit. So if you’re interested in seeing how I work, just send me a message.
Is there any other information you would like to highlight about your work? Jewelry has been a significant part of my life, as you can see from how long I studied it, but drawing and other arts are also a big part of my creative process. You can see my drawing work on my website, along with some installations.
Another big part of my art life is The Pop Up Studio. We’re a group of local artists and designers who make one time art happenings and events for the public. They are always fun to work on and I get a lot of energy from working with the rest of The Pop Up Studio gang. You can see images of our past events and get information on new events at: www.thepopUpstudio.org
Connect with Ruth:
Connect with Arts on the Square & ScrantonMade