By Brooke Geery
Friday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.—CHESTER— Shannon Parker finds no shortage of inspiration in the natural world.
“The color combination of flowers, the details on a fern frond or the ice formations in a puddle,” she said. “There is never a lack of inspiration when you look to nature.”
She has turned that inspiration into a line of jewelry that melds stones and metal into unique pieces called Wisdom River Designs.
On Friday, Nov. 22, Parker will share that joy with the public in a workshop at the Chester Community Art Garden. Participants will learn to create their own copper halo earrings.
The two hour hands-on class goes from 6-8 p.m. In the workshop participants will learn how to make the copper halo, create their own earwires and leave the class with knowledge on how to wirewrap a gemstone. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about a copper oxidizing process to make the halo look vintage.
“People should know that there is no experience required to take this class,” Parker said. “Everyone will leave with a finished product that they will be proud to say that they have created with their own hands. Come to the class ready to learn, get a little messy and laugh! Art should always be fun and never stressful. The Chester Community Art Garden offers a delightful setting where students will feel supported and comfortable.”
Parker has always been a rock hound.
“Just ask my Mom,” she laughed. “Growing up, she always found a handful of my rocks in her washing machine! I always had a stone kicking around in my pocket or in a little pouch — and as an artist, I would always think of different ways that I could carry my treasures with me. ”
As a young adult, Parker moved to Boulder, Colorado, which is where she really honed her craft. There she joined Natha Perkins of Luscious Metals as an apprentice/studio intern, as well as worked in a Southwestern art gallery as a buyer. She traveled to Mexico and Arizona to handpick pieces from Native American artists, which had a profound impact on her work.
“There was so much history and symbolism in their work. There always seemed to be an amazing story behind each piece. These people were not just making jewelry, they were making talismans. The stones were cradled in silver and surrounded by exquisite embellishments and sacred symbols, giving strength and protection to its bearer.”
She also learned to smith silver and gold, which took her work to the next level, she said. “It was not until my move to Colorado when I took a leap of faith and started a metalsmithing internship that I really considered myself a ‘jeweler.’ I always knew I was an artist, but I never discovered my passion until I started being able to manipulate metal with hammers, saws and a torch.”
Parker is not afraid to get a little dirty.
“I actually love the juxtaposition of the hard, messy work against the polished finished product,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty as well as creating beautiful things, so this metalsmithing process is always extremely fulfilling and exciting to me. There is never a ‘bad day’ in my studio. I could slice my finger open and just shrug it off as part of the process! I do not ever seem to lose the thrill of seeing a perfect solder joint, a ring all shined up, make its debut out of the tumbler or seeing how the gemstones sets perfectly in its silver home. It is euphoric to see all of the pieces come together.”
Join Parker for a workshop Friday at 6 p.m. at the Community Art Garden located at 287 Main Street in Chester. Cost is $65, includes all materials. For more info visit wisdomriverdesigns.com or communityartgarden.com.