What is Jewelweed?

Have you ever been hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains? Decades ago, it was among my favorite places to hike and camp…. I became entranced by the cool trails, the scenic waterfalls, moss covered streambeds, and towering forest. I intuitively felt the cleansing quality of the mountain air, was comforted by the sweet songs of babbling brooks, and allowed the abundance of beauty to infuse my heart with wonder….

It was in those wild spaces that I fell in love with Jewelweed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A member of the impatiens family, Jewelweed blooms from mid-Spring through mid-fall in the Eastern United States. It loves growing in creek beds and in moist woods, tending to choose areas that also have poison ivy or stinging nettle. It grows into a rather large bush, decorated with small blossoms. Its beautiful orange spotted yellow flowers are shaped a bit like trumpets, and they hang delicately from the stems like little jewels of the Divine Feminine. They produce quite a bit of sweet nectar, and attract hummingbirds like crazy! In fact, early English settlers sometimes called it the Hummingbird Bush! (Hummingbirds are a symbol of Joy!)

 

If you have ever brushed bare-legged up against stinging nettle and felt the fire of Hades intensifying moment by moment on your skin, you will appreciate the healing powers of Jewelweed.

Usually nearby (as a sign of Divine Inspiration), showing great compassion on the sensitive hiker, is the succulent green remedy that immediately provides relief… you simply identify the pretty plant, grab its lower stalk, and begin to mash to release the cooling salve straight from the stem. Within moments of applying the aloe-vera like gel on the flames…

AAAAAAAAaahhhhhhhhhh……….

When I first went into business as a custom jeweler, I decided to use the name Jewelweed. To honor the power of healing. To embrace the ideals of beauty and purpose. And to reflect my rather earthy values. Now, it has evolved to Jewelweed Sprouts… with new growth, the promise of abundance. Jewelweed has some great wisdom to share…

 

Create nectar to attract Joy.

Beauty serves a healing purpose.

Everything we need is within our reach.

 

 

How are you attracting Joy into your life?

Do you include experiencing beauty as a part of your health care?

Do you allow yourself to be provided for?

Leave a comment below, or head on over to facebook and join Friends Who Like Jewelweed Sprouts and keep the conversation going!

 

 

 

 

 

Altar with Hanuman, Servant of God

A Tour of My Jewelry Studio – Warts and All! (no actual warts, I promise!)

My studio is home to me. It is my cave, my hilltop (think “The Sound of Music”), and my deep blue sea. I go there in silence, I go there in dance, and I go there no matter my mood.

I spent six months without a studio once, and it nearly killed me. I had closed my jewelry store and was spending those months helping a friend build another business that she still runs today. I will never forget the way I felt after I told her I had to reopen my studio, that I couldn’t be her partner…it was exhilarating! My hands had been itching for my tools, and although I didn’t know how or where I was going to get my studio functioning again, I knew I HAD to do it.

At the time, I didn’t even know how I would market my creations. I just knew I was being called back into action, and who was I to deny my destiny?

My jewelry studio isn’t glamorous. It isn’t spotless, it has mismatched furniture, and often looks as if my supplies exploded all over every horizontal surface….and I love it. I did notice recently that it has some rockin’ elements of Feng Shui! My desk and my workbench are situated in the right places for maximum career and creativity, respectively. (Whew! THAT was lucky!)

Let me take you on a tour, going clockwise from the door….

Loose Gemstone Collection
Gemstone Eye Candy Inspiration

In my studio, there is a desk just for gemstones and custom orders to hang out and become what they need to be…like a staging area. Here, I toy with beautiful stones and pieces of what will be jewelry, after a few more processes like hammering, shaping, or polishing.

Hammers and Coils of Silver Wire
My collection of hammers and coils of silver wire

Above that table is a pegboard where I hang my collection of hammers and coils upon coils of sterling silver wire. It also bears photographs of a few folks I admire, and the smallest mirror I could possibly find to make sure I don’t step out into the world with a face full of smudges.

Still Life With Mandrels
Still Life With Mandrels

I have a sturdy table covered with different mandrels, steel plates, a small vise, my flexshaft, and a myriad of accessories for the flexshaft (grinders, polishers, stone setting burs). This table receives my hammerblows and is home to one of the ugliest benchpins in existence. Benchpins earn their ugliness from sawblades and files, drill bits and a wide variety of other tools of torture.

There is a very useful shelving unit in the corner (of love and marriage, according to feng shui)…it carries all those items I need on a varying basis….sometimes I think I need to rearrange a bit and put a large houseplant there instead. (noted on to-do list for several months running now…)

Snapshot of my jeweler's bench
My jeweler’s bench with the debris of creation in the sweeps drawer

Against the wall with windows is my jeweler’s bench. It has seen me through a lot of changes, even though it is only 5 years old. It bears the marks of errant torch flames, dried flux, and piles of random jump rings and tiny chips of solder, and even the occasional gemstone waiting patiently to be recognized as something worthy of a design.

My clean desk
The nerve center of my career

Taking a 90 degree turn, there sits my desk. My gorgeous rolltop desk (don’t get too excited) from Goodwill holds my packaging materials, my calendar, my scale and calculator, and a space almost too small for my laptop computer. It is the main focus when I am placing orders for gemstones and silver, preparing to mail out finished orders, and when I am keeping in touch with the outside world via social media.

Studio Altar
One of my mercurial altars, holding space for some inspiration

It doesn’t have a big file cabinet, or enough shelves to keep all my extra supplies off the floor. It doesn’t have a laser welder or a fancy polishing machine (that is relegated to the back porch for the sake of everyone else who lives in the house). It doesn’t have clean surfaces to eat from or sit on (don’t wear white in my studio!) But for all it doesn’t have, there is so much….

What my jewelry studio does have is a whole lot of authenticity, a heap of possibility, and plenty of space for the daily dance break (which is physically necessary after hours of being hunched over a bench pin!). It has a history of free-flowing creativity, hard work, and divine inspiration. It has a place for me to be fully me….and really I can’t ask for more than that.

To see what beauty comes from a space like this, check out my etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/anitashultz

Or wander over to my facebook page, Jewelweed Sprouts

 

Mango Melee

The Story of Jewelweed, Fine Handmade Jewelry, in Christiansted, St. Croix

handcrafted jewelry, fine jewelry
The glory days of Jewelweed, Fine Handmade Jewelry, in Christiansted, U.S.Virgin Islands.

In December of 2000, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I didn’t know that’s what it was, though. I thought I was opening a jewelry store. With custom designs. Made in the shop.

It wasn’t easy, but it was fun….Jewelweed was truly a dream come true for me. I loved cultivating that space. It became a place where people would come to relax, to distract themselves with good music, good conversation, and objects of beauty. Running a jewelry store was like being the queen of a sacred space. Designing jewelry for a special milestone is like being some sort of divine alchemist. I was among the first to know who was getting engaged, who was having a baby, and what folks were getting for big holidays. I look back at that time and can only thing one thing: IT WAS MAGICAL.

When owning a business, your neighbors can make it into a very rich experience. We had a great location, right in-between a wonderful clothing boutique, From the Gecko(curated by Danna Brosius), and a really unique textiles and gift shop, Textiles With a Story. We were right downstairs from THE BEST RESTAURANT on St. Croix, Bacchus (created by Frank and Katherine Pugliese). King Street was hopping, and we kept the beat.

We (I must include all of my brilliant apprentices in this sentence) designed everything under the sun. We collected sea glass and made beautiful souvenirs. We collected beach stones and created pendants and rings. We made jewelry out of the historical potsherds (locally referred to as “chaney”) that folks would find in their yard after a good tropical rain. We crafted platinum and diamond rings to honor marriages. We played with myriads of sapphires and OH THE BOULDER OPALS! Garry Roberts, from Queensland, Australia, would show up with opals and we would peruse and ponder and finally buy more than we ought to…because who says no to a dramatic fiery opal?

I learned so much from running a business, so much from my friends who were always there to help out, so much from my fantastic employees and apprentices. One of my most fortunate moments was when the guy known for watch repair asked me to apprentice his daughter, Chandar Ramon, because she would rather make jewelry instead of watches. Her commitment and natural talent are two of her greatest attributes. She is still working in the jewelry business in Atlanta. I feel great pride in Jendayi Collingwood, who went to my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, and then moved to the big city to make a place for herself. Bonnie Dale Luria entered this story after moving from New York City to eventually marry one of my good friends, and she brought with her a world of experience and a sense of curiosity and humor that injected Jewelweed with an entirely new and joyful energy. My longest term employee (manager, partner in mischief, etc), the woman who can do absolutely anything she sets her mind to, Louella Johnson, is still my best friend to this day. My mind reels when I think of all the people who were involved in the world of Jewelweed. And I am so deeply grateful for that experience.

In earth years, it only lasted from 2000 through 2008, but in my heart it is eternal. I was young and idealistic,and I was able to create some amazing memories. Through my business, I was able to mentor four aspiring jewelers who then went on to make their own dreams come true. I supported the work of the Rising Stars, a group of local youth with amazing musical talent, who were mentored and promoted by Timothy Graphenreed and J. David Moore. I held space for artists to display their work during Art Thursdays. In fact, it occurred to me that Jewelweed was the first gallery to carry the work of Ted Davis, who then went on to open a beautiful photography gallery of his own in Christiansted, D&D Gallery (currently located in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico). I was fortunate to be able to commission some gorgeous pieces for the store, like the mahogany display cabinet designed and built by one of my apprentices, Allen LaBerteaux. Or the handpainted display cases with images of romance and mythology… Barbara O’Rork Gelardi is still delighting the island with her talent through murals that decorate more homes and business than I would even be able to list here. I still own many of my favorite sea glass ornaments, still being handcrafted by Lea Ann Robson (From the C Jewelry) and sold at local events like Mango Melee and Starving Artist.

Art Thursday
Chan, Tonya, Bonnie and Anita, All smiles after a long night… Art Thursdays still happens one Thursday a month from Nov-May in Christiansted, St. Croix.

Yeah, those were the days… It was a time of a lot of collaboration, cooperation, interdependence. I received support in the form of business advice, advertising advice, bookkeeping advice, and really every other way it was possible to be supported. It was the first time in my life I felt so intimately connected to community. The team that was magnetized to me were the greatest teachers a woman could ever hope for…youth and experience, determination and a lot of hard work, and great heaping helpings of optimism and sharing were the greatest elements that shone through the days and events at Jewelweed. The way Jewelweed evolved mirrored the way I was growing.

I will never forget the night my parents and my husband were able to throw a surprise party for me in the store… I was HUGELY pregnant, and wondered why on earth we were going back to the store when all I wanted was to sit down and eat….and there, inside my dark, locked up for the night magical store, were over two dozen of my dearest friends….”SURPRISE!” The thing about island life is, any chance to celebrate is embraced, and the joy of others is contagious. I marvelled at how many people would show up at Jewelweed late in the evening just to start off my birthday night with SO MUCH LOVE. For a confirmed introvert, to see that many folks in one place who all wanted to talk to me was a bit overwhelming, but THESE PEOPLE were family. These were the people who gave me the courage to be myself in such a public way.

I’m not sure if I ever would have opened a retail jewelry store in any other place, at any other time, but I do know that the time and the place were right for Jewelweed to blossom in St. Croix. The hardest decision I ever made was closing down. I was the mother of a growing toddler, and the time needed to be the mother I longed to be conflicted with the time necessary to be the queen of the Jewelweed domain. Laying down my scepter was a decision made ultimately by love… love for what Jewelweed had offered to me, what I had witnessed and enjoyed in my community, and love for my daughter, who needed me to evolve in a brand new way for her. I don’t regret the decision, but I do miss those days….

….when someone would stop by after a long day just to relax for a spell in the sanctity of the peaceful atmosphere.

….when I could share my skills and experience with someone who has the same love of the tools and materials.

….when someone would come in to celebrate a milestone and share their joy with me.

….when I would feel the deep connection of community and know that I could make a small difference.

Forgive me if I got all sappy there….and forgive me if I didn’t mention you or a very special event that occurred in my store. The twists and turns of memory are very unpredictable, and I was following a glowing thread through time…I am so grateful for everything I experienced during that time. It has led me to carry on with Jewelweed Sprouts, tiny precious fertile bits of Jewelweed that travel with me from place to place that allow me to bloom wherever I am planted.

Were you ever in St. Croix during the Jewelweed era? Did you visit my shop? Do you have a memory to share of Christiansted or King Street or Jewelweed? Did you live in St. Croix and make Jewelweed a part of your daily rounds or your Art Thursday experiences? Please leave me a sentimental comment so I can bask a little longer in the glow of this star…..

 

And HEY! Did you know I still make LOTS of stuff? Come check out my etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/anitashultz

OR my facebook page : Jewelweed Sprouts

WARNING: THERE IS NO SEA GLASS CURRENTLY FOR SALE.

To find out what From the Gecko is all about:  http://www.fromthegecko.com/

Stepping in….Welcome to my world….

Anita Shultz

I am an artist. I make one of a kind fine handmade jewelry. I love gemstones, I love metal. It was only natural I would evolve this way. I am interested in the tactile aspects of jewelry, and how it is a form of art we carry on our body. It is a very intimate item. Often jewelry is made to honor life’s most wonderful moments. I have been blessed and fulfilled to be a trusted custom jeweler for almost 25 years, weaving life’s stories into metal and stone.

It’s funny somehow that this sounds glamorous to some people…usually it involves being covered in abrasive or polishing compound, listening to the buzz of the ultrasonic and the schick-schick-schick of the tumbler. I have been devoid of a manicure for years and I wash my hands so often my knuckles are chapped. Every so often when I’m working I’ll get an itch on the end of my nose, or near my eye, and end up looking like a prize fighter by the next time I check the mirror. My wardrobe choices reflect a necessary wash and wear mentality, and my shoes are somehow always dirty. On an even more glamorous note, I have begun to wear house shoes while I work, since I can toss them in the washing machine when they start leaving footprints….

I know I’m on the right path for me, though. I can spend hours in silence sawing out intricate shapes, filing, hammering and sanding, time standing still. I love the sound metal makes, the way light makes its surfaces sparkle. I even love the gritty feel of metal dust covering my hands. The best part is when all is said and done, the surface sparkles and is set with lovely gems, and it becomes a receptacle for interpretation, for sentiments, for memories…a gift worth giving, a treasure worth receiving.

(And so much fun to make!)

Currently I showcase almost all of my designs on my facebook page, Jewelweed Sprouts. I market many designs in my etsy shop, anitashultz. I offer custom designs through my etsy shop, as well. Some of my work is sold through stores like Capone’s Fine Jewelry in Blacksburg, VA, Raiford Gallery in Roswell, GA, Christie’s Jewelers in San Marcos, TX, and ib designs in St. Croix, USVI. More on my experiences as a jeweler in St. Croix later.

https://www.facebook.com/Jewelweed-Sprouts-206939962694579/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/anitashultz