About Stephanie Ritchie
How I Got Started
I picked up my first pair of jeweler’s pliers between my freshman and sophomore years of college, when I took a job at a costume jewelry store run by a cranky old lady who tried very hard not to teach me how to make any jewelry. Somehow I managed to learn to do some basic repairs, string beads, and knot pearls. My mom and dad were so supportive to see me excited about making jewelry. They bought me a green tackle box in which to carry my half dozen hand tools and growing bead collection back to college. My first jewelry show, if you could call it that, was in 1988 in the lobby of my dorm, where I hung earrings all around the top edges of the lamp shades. I made almost a thousand dollars that night. I was hooked. Eventually I took a basic metalsmithing class. Then another. And another. I say of myself that I am semi-self taught because my skills have not come from formal jewelry training nor apprenticeship, rather from workshops, one-on-one tutorials, and years of willingness to torture a little metal in pursuit of technique.
My Work Today
My torturous affair with jewelry has spanned over three decades now. I am in love with all jewelry, from humble charms to the lavish decadence of precious metals and fine stones. Jewelry has loved me back in a way. I have some treasured talismans that have carried me through the best and hardest times of my life, imbuing me with the power to persist. I have a bracelet stack that serves me like armor, without which I feel naked and fragile. I love the weight, the wonder, and the meaning of jewelry. And oh how I love to make it. There is profound magick in making something from nothing. A handful of metal grain can become a new thing with the application of fire and force, daring and design. All the work I have ever done has been done with my hands and the ever changing muse of design. I have dabbled, adapted, and mastered numerous techniques that appear in my handmade silver and gold jewelry. At one time when my work was carried in 20 galleries nation wide, I worked in distinct “lines:” The Pitted Surface, Wear & Tear, and Tortured Hearts. My work today is free of these marketing distinctions, in other words, I make whatever the hell I want on any given day. One day it might be 22K gold granulation made much the same way a craftsman would have done thousands of years ago. Another day it might be stringing a necklace of luscious peacock pearls from the deep blue sea. I’m partial to surface textures, perhaps only because I do like to wield a hammer. Lately I’m obsessed with pairing the old and the new; the locket inherited from grandmother paired with the modern piece I picked up at the swanky trunk show, layered up with mixed metal chains and a fairy rock I found at the river. A wearable art collection of things that remind me who I am. When one of my pieces gets added to your wearable art collection, I am greatly honored.