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Jewelry and Art, the perfect combination

Dale is an Oakland-based metalsmith and jewelry designer. Her work is largely narrative, drawing from themes that are often deeply personal and philosophical, or based in personal experience. A mixed media artist who enjoys combining traditional metalsmithing, woodworking and innovations in materials and processes, her body of work involves selectively combining graphic designs and textual elements with wearable and sculptural forms in metal, organic and synthetic materials.

She is interested in balancing deliberately crafted forms and surfaces with natural and unrefined textures and colors.  Her work explores themes of balance, chaos and control, destruction and rebirth, identity and performance, and the intimate interconnections between the self and the world around us.

Dale Beevers bracelet

Asylum Collection Bangle. Hand carved buckeye bangle with pyrite accents. Bespoke design for the Spring Collection of fashion designer Vivian Mazuki. 2014. Photo credit: Bob Toy.

How and when did Dale Beevers begin?

I actually came to jewelry design from a somewhat unexpected angle, in that my first passion, and my undergraduate study and early career immediately out of school at UC Berkeley, was in Archaeology.

My interest in art and particularly wearable adornment was always there, and I spent some time studying prehistoric rock art, but I never thought of myself as an artist or seriously considered it as a career until much later.

Ultimately, I found that while the research and practice of archaeology was interesting, I really didn’t have the passion to pursue an advanced degree, so spent several years trying to fit the square peg of my creative spirit into the round hole of a completely unfulfilling corporate career until life happened to give me the opportunity to pause a moment and reconsider my priorities.  At that point about two years ago, I started studying jewelry design at the Academy of Art and immediately felt the pieces fall into place.

Dale Beevers Jewelry

Asylum Collection Arm Pieces. Hand carved buckeye arm jewelry with hand made brass chain. Bespoke design for the Spring Collection of fashion designer Vivian Mazuki. 2014.  Photo credit: Tony Pratama.  Model: Elspeth Tordoff.

Dale Beevers  Methal

Asylum Collection Arm Pieces. Hand carved buckeye arm jewelry with hand made brass chain. Bespoke design for the Spring Collection of fashion designer Vivian Mazuki. 2014.  Photo credit: Tony Pratama.  Model: Elspeth Tordoff.

Being native from New Mexico, how does your place of origin influence your designs?

I think most people draw inspiration from their home, but for me I think what comes through in my work is how integral the desert landscape is to my experience of the world.

The earthy natural colors, my affinity for natural materials and surfaces in my work, and my appreciation for texture, all tie back to my experience of growing up in a desert landscape with its sandy mesas, summer thunderstorms and its unique and often surreal color palette.

Just as importantly, because I was born within the area bounded by the four sacred mountains of the Navajo Nation, I grew up with a deep awareness of the sacred and ancient relationship between people and the land.  I bring this reverence into my artwork by carefully selecting and honoring the intrinsic qualities of materials that I use and through an affinity for traditional techniques.

Your pieces are unique and express your passion for nature and the world in which we live, where do you get inspiration to design?

My inspirations are varied, but they typically start with a story or idea that I want to convey.  My work is narrative, and although I often abstract my ideas, I typically have a concept behind my pieces that relates to some intimate aspect of my personal experience, whether it is a broad philosophical question that I am engaged with or transformative or emotional experience that I wish to share.

In my work with wood and other natural materials, my inspiration for designing them in such a way that the natural character of the material was enhanced, yet in many ways unmodified, is based in my appreciation for the inherent beauty in things that are raw, exposed and examined in their natural state.  My idea of raw beauty, however, extends beyond the “natural” environment to even urban landscapes.

For example, I find just as much beauty in experiencing the sound of rain drumming against the cracked panes of glass of an old skylight in a turn of the century brick building in San Francisco as I do in listening to the hiss of those raindrops as they strike up puffs of dust on the hard, dry bare earth of the desert.

Dale Beevers bracelets stone

Graffiti and Wood Brooches. Hand carved buckeye brooches with street art inspired silkscreened enamel inset pieces with decals.  2014.  Photo credit: Dale Beevers.

And outside of work? What other things inspire you?

I am endlessly inspired by people, and one of my favorite things to do is to walk the streets of the city or sit at a café and people watch.

I try in my free time to shut down the dialog in my brain and really pay attention to my surroundings, and I often find that things I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed will catch my eye and spark exciting new directions in my work, or colors or surface textures I’d like to try.

My most important inspiration always is my six year old daughter, whose sense of humor and wonder keep me youthfully and joyously connected to the world around me.

How would you define your jewelry?

What I love about jewelry is that it creates a dialog between the artist who makes the piece, and the person who wears it.  It is art that is experienced in a very intimate way, and transformed by the wearer for whom it becomes part of their own identity.  This makes it uniquely accessible to me to explore the expression of intimate ideas that are transcendent and shared between people.  My jewelry is about story-telling in a visual and personal way.

Dale Beevers necklace

Asylum Collection Back Piece. Hand carved buckeye back piece with forged brass, hand carved bone accents with scrimshaw and brass pique inlay, and bezel set goat horn. Bespoke design for the Spring Collection of fashion designer Vivian Mazuki. 2014. Photo credit: Tony Pratama.  Model: Elspeth Tordoff.

Dale Beevers back neclace

Asylum Collection Back Piece. Hand carved buckeye back piece with forged brass, hand carved bone accents with scrimshaw and brass pique inlay, and bezel set goat horn. Bespoke design for the Spring Collection of fashion designer Vivian Mazuki. 2014. Photo credit: Tony Pratama.  Model: Elspeth Tordoff

What materials do you prefer to work with and why?

I really enjoy working with wood, and my favorite metal to combine it with is sterling silver.

I love the way that wood is infinitely varied in texture and color, it is so versatile, light, smells great when it’s being worked, and it can be colored or its natural qualities highlighted in various ways depending on what works best with the piece.  Similarly, silver is such a beautiful, soft metal that wears well for generations, and offers a nice color contrast with the warmer hues of most woods.

Which piece is your favorite? Why?

Although I love my wood collections, my favorite recent piece is this square cuff bracelet that I made with enameled copper and sterling silver from my graffiti series collection.  This series represents the development of a palimpsest idea I’m working on where I use combinations of etchings of graffiti murals that I’ve found throughout the city (many of which are painted over after I photograph them), overlaid and combined with my own graffiti-inspired silkscreened enamel images based on scenes or themes from my life.

The concept is about exposing layers of personal experience and inspiration that are part of the process of creating and expressing one’s identity.  I love the way the design of this piece worked out, with the etched detail forming a textured surface that gives a sensual experience when worn on the wrist as well as visual interest from the inside out when off the wrist. Its shape also combines structural and organic lines in what I think is an interesting way, and the silkscreen enamel images that I used in the panels depict happy moments shared with my daughter, which gives the piece a sensitivity and importance that I think elevates it beyond its design elements.

Dale Beevers Jewelry designer

Asylum Collection Bangle. Hand carved buckeye bangle with pyrite accents. Bespoke design for the Spring Collection of fashion designer Vivian Mazuki. 2014. Photo credit: Tony Pratama.  Model: Elspeth Tordoff.

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

I think the greatest challenge I’ve faced is in balancing work and school and taking advantage of opportunities to develop my career as an artist while being just as involved in being a parent and nurturing my daughter’s development.

I find that being passionate about both and being unwilling to sacrifice on either side is the key to striking the right balance.

It also helps that she is my greatest supporter, as I am hers, and when you truly are passionate about and love everything that you do in your life, the extra time and effort it takes to keep everything together is nothing compared to the joy you get from it.

What does the future of Dale Beevers look like?

This is a difficult question to answer, because I feel like defining the future inherently closes one off to possibilities that could be even better that come from keeping an open mind to opportunities along the way.

However, my goal is to continue to build my brand and develop my studio, finish my Master’s Degree while making professional connections and gaining experience both teaching and collaborating with other artists, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

Ultimately, I’d love to have my own gallery and teaching studio that would give me the freedom to curate shows and develop collections in tandem with fostering the development of emerging artists in a collective way.

Visit: http://www.dalebeevers.com/ 

Written by Andy Lencina