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Conversations with Karen Edgerly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Edgerly.

Hi Karen, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I discovered silversmithing when I was 13 years old, I took a class at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, where I grew up. I was hooked. I took jewelry classes all through high school and college, where I majored both in science and art. I then went on to be an environmental geologist and a science teacher. I taught for 20 years. I planned to go back to silversmithing when I retired, but twelve years ago a serious health issue changed my path.

Faced with looking at my mortality, I knew I had to leave teaching and start the career I had wanted to do years before. I took a sabbatical and then silversmithing classes at the community college. I took over at the time my teenagers’ tv room and created a studio. And my business has grown from there, along with my health. It has been an amazing journey. I love what I do and the journey I am on. My jewelry embraces the scientist and artist in me.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
As a whole, the road has been smooth. My business has grown pretty organically, each year adding a new show and a gallery. Understanding the business aspect has been the hardest part of being a full-time artist. I’m always learning about how to best be a businesswoman.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
There is a saying in Japan, wabi-sabi, meaning there is beauty in the imperfect. I love jewelry that is slightly off-centered either by stone setting or just a little bend in the metal. When designing a piece I always look for a way to make it slightly imperfect. Each piece I make holds its own story in either the stones, glass, rust, or just the design.

Having majored in geology and art, I love working with all types of stones – knowing their science along with their art form, makes it particularly fun for me. Precious or semi-precious gems accent my work, i.e. a piece of Greek sea glass accented with tourmaline and tiny diamonds, American turquoise accented with sapphires and topaz, or a rusted washer made into a belt buckle with agate and sapphires. I also mix silver with a little bit of gold creating richness in my pieces.

My jewelry embraces the fine craft of silversmithing using various techniques and plays with mixing silver with other metals and always adding the sparkling aspect of faceted stones. I want clients/followers/fans to know that I love working with people’s old jewelry and redesigning pieces that speak to them. When designing a piece, I always look for a way to make it slightly different. I want people wearing my jewelry to feel they own a unique piece and one that feels like it has been specially made for them. I call my style organic classic.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
The best advice I could give someone who is starting a silversmithing business would be to join a local metalsmithing group. There they will be able to meet fellow silversmiths and goldsmiths and learn about classes, meetings, demonstrations, etc. Once part of the group, you could inquire about a mentor. Metalsmithing groups also help connect you with galleries, shows, and exhibits. Another organization I would tell someone to join is more of a general artist group that does annual or biannual studio tours.

Other artists are incredibly helpful to new ones, and the more interaction you can have with seasoned artists the better. When I was doing my first show, another artist came over and gave me so many great pointers about setting up my booth. I implemented all of them at the next show. In other words, when starting to meet others that work in your same medium and ones that work in other mediums. You’ll learn from them all.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Taylor Lotte and @gsquarewedding

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