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Designer Story: A Closer Look to Our Surroundings


Deanna Wardley is an emerging artist trying to realize her particular vision of the world through jewelry and sculpture.

She was born in the Bay Area but  grew up in Roseville, right outside of Sacramento. Deanna studied at the Academy of Art in 2010 and chose to study Fine Art. Although she studied painting at first, she then moved on to sculpture, and now her focus is on metal arts and jewelry making.

There is so much beauty to be found in the unseen; beneath the surface of our everyday awareness.



“Rime Relics” 2014 This series of brooches emulates natural forms exposed to ice and frost. Materials include copper, silver, nickel, enamel, wood, cement, and found objects.

How and when did Deanna Wardley begin?

I’ve been making art my whole life. Growing up I loved drawing and painting, so when I came to school I chose to study Fine Art. Then I took a sculpture class and I really fell in love with it. From there I began to focus my studies on jewelry and metal arts.

I love it because it allows me to combine my love for sculpture, design and fashion into one craft. I love the idea of a piece of my art work being worn and treasured by someone.

Deanne Wardley_RimeRelics

“Rime Relics” 2014 This series of brooches emulates natural forms exposed to ice and frost. Materials include copper, silver, nickel, enamel, wood, cement, and found objects.

Your pieces are unique and express your passion for nature, where do you get inspiration to design?

I’m really inspired by natural geometry and the complex patterns that can be seen everywhere in nature if you look closely. Its funny because this theme of nature sort of finds its way into whatever I’m making. At first it wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’ve always been fascinated by nature and science so its something that has manifested in my art.

I’m always collecting “specimens” for inspiration, things like bones, wood, shells, rocks, seeds etc. I’m always looking for interesting textures and forms I can use in my jewelry.

Deanne Wardley_ChemicalDecay

“Chemical Decay.” 2014. These necklaces are inspired by the chemical process that produces radioactive particles. Materials include silver, copper, steel, enamel, plastic, and rubber.

Deanne Wardley_Rhizome Rings

“Rhizome Rings” 2012. The rhizome ring set is inspired by the growth of a rhizome: an underground plant stem capable of producing both the shoot and root systems of a new plant. Materials include copper and brass.

And outside of work? What other things inspire you?

I also look at architecture, and urban environments. I like to dig
around in antique stores. I like things that look old and worn, things
that have a story. Also music is huge for me, it really puts me in that
creative head space.

How would you define your jewelry?

In my art I want to describe life, growth and decay. I want to examine the way nature behaves and then reinterpret it in my work. The world is full of magic and I want to capture some of that.

What materials do you prefer to work with and why?

I work with metal, wood, ceramics, enamel, and found objects. I’m open to using just about any material in my art, I’m always experimenting. I like to keep a really open mind because you never know what might end up working.

Deanne Wardley_Marrow

“Marrow” 2013 Marrow is an exploration of the complex architecture of a bone. Materials include string, gouache and cement.

Which piece is your favorite? Why?

Right now my favorite piece is a brooch I made as a part of a series called Rime Relics which was inspired by ice and frost. My favorite piece in the series combines a geometric cement casting with enameled mesh and a piece of wood I found on the beach.

I like the contrasting texture of the smooth cement with the rough decayed wood. The hard geometric lines contrast with rounded organic shapes. Then I unified the pieces with a wintry color palette. It has an elemental feel to it.

What have been the most unique challenges that you’ve discovered in your career? And the most interesting problems you’ve had to solve, how did you solve them?

I think something I’ve learned is to trust my instincts. I sometimes over-analyze things so when I make art I have to make a conscious decision to ignore that chatter in my head and just go with my gut.

There are times when I question myself so I’ve learned to rely on my intuition throughout the creative process.

Deanna Wardley_LichenPendant

“Lichen” 2012. Inspired by the growth patterns of moss and fungus. Materials include sterling silver, nickel silver, and reindeer moss.

Deanna Wardley_Anhydrous

“Anhydrous.” 2013. These pieces combine natural textures and patterns inspired by desert terrain. Materials include silver, bone, cholla wood and coral.

A jewel you will not put away this summer?

My turquoise rings and a small silver triangular locket that I wear just about every day.

What does the future of Deanna Wardley look like?

I want to keep creating and developing my craft. I’d like to collaborate   with other artists. Also I’d love to teach.

Featured Image: “Radiolaria” 2012. These porcelain forms are inspired by tiny marine protozoa that produce intricate mineral skeletons. Materials include porcelain, silver, bronze and steel wire.


You can see more of Deanna Wardley here.

Written by Andy Lencina