My Jewelry Journey

Karin Worden Headshot Whether we met at the Festival of Arts or my gallery Silver Blue & Gold, you found me online or your sweetheart sent you here with her wish list, I invite you to explore and reach out with any questions. And for now, how about if I share what others have asked?

How long have you made jewelry? Forever! I found goldsmithing in high school crafts class. We dabbled in many mediums and when we hit silver, I was smitten. I think the pacing of the saw through metal made it a meditation. My teacher, Ms. B, saw my groove and gave me keys to the studio. She says she didn't realize that spending so much time in the studio meant I was probably skipping my academics!

Did you flunk out of school then? Nope. I made it to college - 3 of them - and Grad School. My first college had a crafts center where I ended up teaching. The second had one of the best metals programs going, with “Living Treasure” Arline Fisch at the helm. And the third was affiliated with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston — a museum whose permanent collection now houses my art. In the Vintage collection you’ll find “Waiting Boats.” It’s a visual love poem to Boston, my home.

Wait, Don’t you live in Laguna Beach? I do! But Boston will always be my home and a core influence on my aesthetic. I grew up Downtown by Beacon Hill and the Charles River — on the 36th floor of a high rise! In my 20s I lived and worked with other artists in huge lofts in old mill buildings overlooking Fort Point Channel.

Two elements of this environment still influence my artistic voice: The crispness of contemporary urban architecture — clean lines and surfaces — and the feeling of hidden treasures that historic cities contain. There are so many textures to uncover — literally and figuratively!

These encourage my love of detail and craftsmanship. I strive for clear, intentional lines, and you'll find traces of 'the artist's hand' in the marks I leave behind as a history of the making. Some more artsy pieces contain hidden treasures of sorts in unexpected elements that hint at a story one may never know. As do the 'ghost signs' on the faded facades of Boston's old brick buildings.

Why do you say goldsmithing? Silversmithing refers to larger objects. (Think Paul Revere, since we have New England on our minds.) Goldsmithing is the ancient art of crafting small objects in precious metals. Jewelry art is considered goldsmithing even when the object is silver. 

And if those semantics aren't enough for you, my MFA is in — Artisanry! I like this word, artisanry, because in it I hear the ancientness of the craft.

Contemporary studio jewelry often combines both gold and silver in a single item. Even in a silver piece, the gemstone settings I make are usually 18k or 22k gold. I also like to grind up 22k gold and sprinkle it like pollen on my flowers. Goldsmithing is fun! I get lost in it, spending hours at my bench playing — sawing, hammering, heating, and forging. 

Why botanicals? Jewelry is a platform for my love of goldsmithing and the botanicals are the platform for the jewelry. Think of it as a container, so to speak, for the textures and colors.

Also, I am fed by the the beautiful botanicals I get to see daily while hiking California nature preserves, strolling the shoreline, and even walking by my neighbors’ gardens — you should see what they grow!

I feel a spiritual connection in nature that is hard to put into words. When I say it, instead, in a visual language, it feels more true. And I find, then, that it speaks to others’ connections — to the moments they’ve had in nature or other places of knowing.

Who wears Botanical Art Jewelry? My one-of-a-kind jewelry appeals to a strong woman with a soft heart who values originality over conformity and timelessness over trend. She often wears it as a token of a time to remember, a little spot of beauty, or even a subversive touch of the Divine Feminine for the times and places that could really use such a thing. 

At exhibitions, I witness people find something familiar in the work, a recognition or discovery of something personal. I am always honored when they choose a piece of my art as a touchstone to anchor them in their own memories and moments.

Sometimes, years later, I get to revisit a piece and I am struck by how it has taken on a new energy. It becomes its wearer’s rather than maker’s. There is magic and alchemy in metal arts that I cannot explain, but which moves and motivates me daily.

Why did you close your gallery? We loved it! I did too — especially representing other studio jewelers. But my purpose in life is to be a maker. There are so many threads of inspiration I want to follow, and I do that best with with long uninterrupted stretches of deep work. Something rare in retail!

Where do you work now? I'm in the Laguna Canyon Artists complex. Drop your email in the sign-up form and I’ll invite you to Open Studios.

The complex is truly a treasure, with painters, sculptors, printmakers and photographers. It remains true to Laguna Beach’s roots as an Artists’ Colony.

Can you make me something special? Yes. I can design a one-of-a-kind piece for you or a gift that is sure to please. There is often a waiting list, though, so please reach out in plenty of time for your occasion.

Do you ever do anything else? Why, yes! If I’m not at my bench, chances are I’m in the ocean, practicing yoga, or dancing. I am a dedicated “5 Rhythms” dancer with a worldwide community I love to catch up with in beautiful locations — my favorite being Esalen in Big Sur.

Should I sign up for your VIP list? Of course! How could you possibly read this far and not want to get invitations to exhibitions, be the first to know when new collections launch, and receive little gifts here and there?

Let’s keep in touch!

— xo, Karin 

A jeweler's bench from 1560