Jewelry designer Karen Bandy was interviewed by Bend Fashion Quarterly about her business and work as a custom jewelry designer in Bend, Oregon.
Sisters, "rock stars"
I was thinking about what I do for a living and how that fits with your wants and desires. Every woman wants to feel beautiful, happy, special and loved. One way women feel those things is to wear jewelry that is special to them. I recently read that there is a fundamental emotional synergy between jewelry and the female wearer. Even if it is only one special piece that becomes your amulet, your trademark, go-to piece of jewelry, when you put on that ring, pendant or earrings, you feel comfort, and feel loved.
Okay, so how can we create that synergy? You bring in jewelry that you already own but don't wear, and we scrap the gold and use that for credit towards something new for you. And yes, sometimes we can use the gems that were in the old jewelry, or we start from scratch. We can create something new for you, for a daughter or perhaps a sister so they feel loved too.
From one "rock star"
Speaking of sisters, a client once came in with a special project. Her sister spent several years taking care of their beloved aging mother. Mother and sister lived in the Midwest so it was hard for the local sister to participate too much in their mother's care. When the local sister came in she told me the story, and she said her sister was a rock star. She said she could never repay her for what she had done for their mother, but wanted to show her appreciation in a tangible way. We went through my portfolio of finished pieces and when we came across a photo of a pendant in the shape of a star, we both pointed and said "that's it."
With a general direction, I set out to create a unique new piece with that kind of spirit. The star shape became the inspiration, and to truly reflect her sister's personality, we included her favorite gem, aquamarine. This unique, start-from-scratch "star" expressed her true inner self.
She loved it, and felt loved, too. A week or two later she called me and asked me to create one for the local sister. When complete, I called in the local sister, using the ruse of having to check her wedding ring. When she arrived I made her sit down and revealed a "star" made just for her. It was such a wonderful surprise and we called the sister right there from the shop.
I love feeling part of my client's lives. I think they appreciate my help, my ability to listen to their wants and desires, and also the quality of the work. It is the perfect synergy between my clients and me.
Lisa Dae, singing the Great American Songbook
on First Friday
Join me for a special First Friday June 2nd. I am hosting live jazz with Lisa Dae & Gordy Michael. They are a guitar and jazz vocal duo performing songs from the Great American Songbook. They start at 5:30pm. Please come support local music. We'll serve white wine, so please stop by!
I hope to see you tomorrow night 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The only international award-winning jeweler east of the Cascades
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and
by appointment First Friday 3-8pm
25 NW Minnesota, Suite 5, Downtown Bend
Touching hearts with gems, gold ... and paint
It's been a great first quarter and I've been busy with a lot of custom work, both painting and jewelry. There were some very interesting special orders and I'd like to share a few with you. These are heartwarming stories about something a lot of us boomers are going to face as we age. These stories also address a new trend, at least one I haven't seen much until now.
Three women have recently visited, looking for for help with jewelry restyles after their spouses had passed. One asked that her wedding ring be sized for her right hand, an idea from her support group. She's wearing the ring now while honoring her dear husband's memory. Another woman I have known for years moved her wedding ring to her right hand, but wanted a memory of her husband on her left ring finger. She didn't want something that looked like a wedding ring. An opal he had given her years ago is now being re-worked from a '60's-style ring into a meaningful and contemporary memory for her left hand.
An enduring reminder: diamond cradled in holley-blue agate
Yet another brought in the wedding set I'd created about 10 years ago featuring a diamond her late husband's grandmother had given him. We moved the wedding band portion of the set to her right hand and decided to put the diamond in a pendant she could wear close to her heart. Together we searched my gemstone inventory and found the perfect new stone to complement the diamond that had so many memories attached. I suggested a design that cradled the diamond with a holley-blue chalcedony from Sweet Home, Oregon. Both stones now reside in a 14-karat yellow gold setting that honors the wearer's spouse and their shared memories. The photo is shown above.
Everyone honors the love of their lives differently, but I am seeing some trends ... moving a ring to the right hand, and making a placeholder in their heart whether on a finger or with a pendant using the original gems or starting fresh. Both are organic, natural expressions from the heart.
Which would you choose ...
But it's all not metal and stones. Here's a fun painting commission story: A long-time client visited looking for ideas. His uncle is very generous and supportive, but buys anything he needs immediately, so is (of course) very hard to buy for. You know the type, I know the type too. I'm married to one.
Anyway, the uncle adores his dog, a Shiba Inu named Akamai. My new clients love my pet portraits, and a perfect gift idea was born. I was given a lot of creative freedom, but wasn't sure where I wanted to go with this portrait, especially since it was a surprise and I couldn't consult with the actual recipient. So, secretly I painted two portraits, and let the gift-givers make the choice. It was a fun exercise and I think I captured the dog's bright spirit. I've shown both paintings - which one would you choose?
... or this one?
First Friday is tomorrow, April 7th, 2017. I hope you'll visit, share a glass of wine, and see all the new goodies that I purchased in Tucson... gorgeous, lustrous pearls, gems and drusys. You'll love these new items, and maybe be moved to get your own heart-touching design.
I hope to see you tomorrow night 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Can we talk about real custom-designed jewelry? Five steps to a piece that is all about YOU.
Maybe I'm preaching to the choir here, but apparently a lot of people don't know the difference between a true original design and the claims of most independent and chain stores, where they plop a diamond into a mass-produced ring and call it one-of-a-kind.
The other day I saw a commercial for a manufacturer advertising custom design. "Pick one of our diamonds and put it in one of our ready-made rings." That's not custom design, that's just cheesy salesmanship and doing what they know how to do ... as little as possible. Another thing custom design is not, is copying a manufactured piece or adapting some other jeweler's design and calling it 'original.'
In both cases, one gets a generic design created for the mass market, or someone else's design, not an expression of your unique personality.
True custom design is an art. Rings, pendants or earrings are made just for you, using precious metals, gems and diamonds that we choose together, or using your existing gems and creating an original design for those gems. It's a complex - and fun - process, resulting in the perfect fit for you literally and figuratively. That's why so few artists offer it.
1. We talk about what you like, what your lifestyle is, what your personal style is.
2. We look through portfolios of my past work to start the creative process.
3. From there I do sketches that approximate what I think fits you and works with the chosen materials and you and I refine it from there.
4. Next I make a wax model with gems in place so you can see in three dimensions what the piece is going to look like and how it fits you. It's a wonderful way to make certain we are on the same page stylistically and ensure it is the correct size. This process also works for surprise scenarios; many men and women come in for engagement, anniversary or just-because gifts.
5. Finally, your finished piece is set, polished, and presented to you - the only person in the world to have that unique piece.
Oh, there is a 6th step: Maybe you can help me spread the word. Let's educate people what custom design is really about! It's about ART ...
A for Art ...
R for Rarity ...
T for Terrific!
You're special. You deserve a true, original, one-of-a-kind design.
Rare gemstones and a new painting series debut tomorrow night - come see!
Tomorrow night is First Friday! Join me and have a little wine as we "warm up" for the Independence Day holiday.
Some exciting developments in the painting and jewelry world. First of all, I was able to score some beautiful (and very scarce) pink-orange padparadscha sapphires as well as other equally hard-to-find, teal, ice blue, and green sapphires. They are all natural and unheated, which makes them very rare in this day and age. Some are from Malawi, while others are from the Umba river region of Tanzania.
"Padparadscha" means Lotus Flower in Sanskrit, and when you see the pink-orange blush on this gem you'll know why they were named that. I have designed two new rings, one is done and ready for you to try on, and the other is being cast, polished and set by my goldsmith as I write this. I do have more loose gems from this suite of rare stones, so if you would like to talk about a design please let me know. They are perfect for accent stones, perhaps paired with diamond, or set with contrasting green tourmaline, tanzanite, or pearl.
As you know, my paintings are constantly evolving based on seasons, the world, and my inner and outward inspirations. Painting is such an awesome outlet, as it's freeing for me. I have to be precise with jewelry; painting gives me a literal, physical and figurative freedom! The painting shown below is part of a new series called 'The Continuum' and has a backstory, so please come in and I'll tell it to you if you'd like. A perfect time would be this First Friday when I'm open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
I'm at the shop Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or by appointment at other times. I'm at 25 NW Minnesota Ave, Suite 5, between Thump Coffee and Alleda Real Estate on Upper Minnesota, downtown. 541-388-0155
Stop by and let's design some fireworks for your lifestyle!
Work in progress - see my newest painting tonight
Tonight is First Friday! Join me and my visiting sisters-in-law, up from sunny California! They are excited to experience First Friday and I hope you are too.
I've been working on some new abstract paintings and will bring one tonight that is almost done. I'd love your input. You can help me title it.
I hope to see you tonight from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., by appointment at other times. I'm at 25 NW Minnesota Ave, Suite 5, between Thump Coffee and Alleda Real Estate on Upper Minnesota, downtown.
See you soon,
Is jewelry the ultimate form of personal artistic expression?
After taking a short break from newsletters, they are back! Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Let's start with a quote from a top executive at Bonhams of London on a subject I've talked about before, right hand rings and personal amulets....
"If art is important because it shows us what we are, what we can be, then jewelry, the ultimate adornment, is the perfect expression of this. We anticipate this demand to continue to grow," he said.
Custom jewelry fits that bill uniquely well. Ten years ago, a client inherited a simple emerald and diamond three-stone ring. It was very traditional and she wore it only a few times because it wasn't 'her.' So she came to me for a custom re-design. She loves what I have been doing with textured white and rose gold and that became the inspiration for figuring out what would perfectly fit her personality and lifestyle. I made a wax model for her to try on just so she could be certain, and now that it's done she's very happy with the results and I am too. She said we nailed her personality and taste! It's her! And she loves the emerald set in rose gold.
If you'd like a personal amulet or a personalized painting for your home, please contact me today. I'd love to show you around the design studio and if I don't have exactly what you want I'll make it or paint it for you. I love a challenge and I have a supply of gems (and plenty of paint!) waiting for inspiration, yours and mine.
Drusy, diamond, 14k yellow gold
Check out this great new pendant. I love this uncommon blue drusy stone. It's called "Smithsonite," found alongside turquoise in the desert southwest. This one-of-a-kind piece is framed in 14 karat yellow gold, hangs from it's own 14 karat yellow gold chain and is accented with a 0.14 carat round brilliant diamond. It would make a lovely personal amulet and could be worn casually with jeans, workout wear, to the office or to a special dinner out! Look good, feel great deep down inside with a piece that speaks to you.
I'm open First Friday May 6 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., by appointment at other times. Come see me! I'm at 25 NW Minnesota Ave, Suite 5, between Thump Coffee and Alleda Real Estate on Upper Minnesota, Downtown Bend.
See you soon,
Please contact me if there is something you are interested in. Almost everything is on sale. Prices listed are regular prices. Call 541-388-0155 or email email@example.com, or go to the contact page. Sale ends Saturday the 13th at 4:00pm!
I almost always start my canvases or panels the same way ... with an underpainting. It adds mystery and glow even if one can't consciously see it. And I try to leave a bit of that underpainting visible in every painting too, but this doesn't always happen. See the photos below to get an idea of how I work and please contact me with any questions or comments, or tell me how you start a painting.
A lot has been going on this late summer and fall. I undertook some personal challenges and there were lots of highs. The first highlight was a family reunion after a many year gap that went extremely well, and then a girls weekend at the coast which was a blast ... high school friends ... so awesome to reconnect after so many years, then I scheduled a painting weekend just for me, and then another painting weekend with my niece who came over from Portland to get inspired to paint again. Phew, I'm tired just thinking about all that fun stuff!
One challenge was the painting weekend by myself. A jewelry and painting client talked to me about an abstract for her home in Scottsdale. She kept talking about turquoises and aqua and fuchsias and rusts, yellows and creams. She loves the gem aquamarine and Caribbean blue waters. She then saw a small 7"x5" painting that I have in my jewelry showcase as a backdrop. It was perfect, except she needs a much larger size, 48"x36". I had done that little painting with a squeegee and wasn't sure I could replicate it so large with the same technique.
My Caribbean-themed painting.
I dug in and started painting it that weekend. Here's a photo and I think I succeeded. To me it looks like a Caribbean hurricane. I'm loving the vortex the fuchsia and yellow create. Her husband saw it and loved it. She has yet to come in as she was away, but it's okay if she doesn't end up purchasing the painting. I learned a lot and undertook the challenge for my own benefit. I really wanted to see if I could do it and I think I did!
Special event this First Friday Oct. 2nd ... Beth Hattenberger will be joining us for an evening of Energy Healing. Beth's business is Thriving Body and Soul and she does nutritional counseling as well as energy healing. She'll be sensing for any energy blockages and clearing them, as well as simple balancing. Come in from 5-8pm, meet with Beth one-on-one and see what you'll discover. You'll love her open personality, appreciate her depth of knowledge, and be impressed by her intuitive skills. There is no charge for this brief appointment, and we'll keep a waiting list. Free is good!
New aquamarine ring with diamonds, open-work and bead-blast texture.
I'm open First Fridays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday 11:30 - 5:00, and of course by appointment at other times. I'm at 25 NW Minnesota Ave, Suite 5, between Thump Coffee and Alleda Real Estate on Upper Minnesota, Downtown Bend.
See you soon,
P.S.: After the last newsletter, kind customers have sent in more testimonials. Thank you so much, I have the best clients whom I'm also lucky to call my friends! Also, my niece has been painting at home. Success!
Karen this is the most comfortable ring I have ever owned … I always take my rings off at night (and take most off the minute I get into my house) … two nights I have slept with this ring on!!!! Beauty, excellent design & “craftswomanship” plus comfort … wow! Janice D.
"I put it on yesterday, and enjoyed looking at it all evening. Today I've been busy unpacking, cooking, and gardening (with gloves on). By being busy with it on I'm delighted to see how well it wears with much activity. It is beautiful, but very practical; sits nicely on my finger but doesn't loop around when I'm busy with my hands. A wonderful extra for a lovely design." Denise O.
Finding inspiration in nature
I have written about finding inspiration before. Sure enough, it almost always comes back to nature's direct influence. At the very least it comes back to being refreshed by nature; rivers, streams, green foliage, and this time really big red rocks!
We just returned from a trip to the southwest starting with a quick stopover in Santa Fe and the Georgia O'Keeffe museum. Talk about being influenced by nature, pretty much everything she did was a reflection of nature. I find her work so inspiring and beautiful, even a ram skull was beautiful. When I have been to Santa Fe in the past the museum has been closed so this was a treat for me. Thank you husband Scott for going out of our way, dragging a trailer behind in downtown Santa Fe! Parking was no easy task I might add.
The big red rocks were at Arches National Park and along the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. We explored the park and I took lots of photos, and then we drove down a canyon of the Colorado River in search of ancient petroglyphs. Included are a few photos from the trip.
It's always nice to come home to beautiful Bend and our dogs. Returning home makes me appreciate the beauty all around us all the more. Speaking of beautiful Bend, it is time for First Friday and salsa dancing in the alley behind my store! Please come join us this First Friday July 3rd for a few new paintings, crisp white wine, and dancing. It should be fun! A pro is leading the dancing so you can talk to him about lessons, too.
What are some of your favorite things? Hiking, camping, swimming, gardening or just relaxing in the sun with cocktails on the back deck, BBQ, friends and family? All of the above?
(Just finished! Tanzanite, tourmaline and baroque Tahitian pearls in 14 karat yellow gold)
For me it is hiking and rivers. I love running water and don't spend nearly enough time in the vicinity of good water. It's an energizing, yet calming thing for me, but also a deep philosophical thing for me, all about movement, paths and journeys.
I have been on a personal journey lately, wondering where I am going with my business. I took a very intense step forward and committed to this e-commerce website. It's a step in the right direction emotionally and physically. It is the future. It is a way to reach a larger audience without drastically increasing my inventory or my physical location. It is growth, and renewal, and flow primarily by putting myself out there into the future.
(Fresh perspective: "Spring Thaw" 12 x 12 acrylic on canvas).
I started painting differently also; I am painting whimsically, boldly yet softly, with energy and excitement popping thru. Fittingly I call this series "Rivers and Paths, and Going Places".
A woman visiting here in Bend saw an ad in a local art magazine featuring some rings that I designed (same photo shown in post below), and came down to the shop but I was away at a memorial service, so she called when she got back home.
Checking out my website and after a few emails, she chose the rose gold ring with the pear-shape rustic rose-cut diamond, accented with white diamonds. We’re going to custom make some stackers for her to go with the ring.
I’m really looking forward to working with her on the stackers. It will be a fun collaboration! She has a good sense of what she wants and the ring I designed serves as the take-off point.
This "stack" has rustic diamonds in
taupe, nutmeg and luminous green; each ring sold individually, please check this website, under "rings" for availability.
To make these rings unique I combined rustic rose cut diamonds with clear and pristine modern white diamonds, and sometimes black diamonds. One ring features a nutmeg color, rose-cut pear-shape diamond accented with rustic diamond cubes that were mined in the cube shape. I used these intriguing diamond cubes in exactly the same form they had when discovered deep in the ground. Working with the earth and spanning millions of years to create something totally wearable is a wonderful feeling.
As you'll see in the photo, for fun I paired some stacking rings with my designs. The stackers are quite traditional in style, adding a unique twist to the more rustic diamond pieces. You'll also notice the hammered and shiny surfaces of the white, yellow and rose gold.
New in the gallery is the featured colorful abstract painting called "Spring River." When I was 21 years old, a friend and I left college to live and work in Sunriver for the summer. It was such a wonderful time we didn't want to go back to Eugene!
I will always remember the times sitting at a cabin on Spring River (just across the Deschutes) feasting on fresh-caught crawdads and drinking Annie Greensprings wine. Times were so simple and relaxed back then.
Okay, I'm dating myself, but the memory has stayed clear and vivid in my mind and as I was painting this and it evolved I was struck by how lyrical and flowing it is, much like Spring River. The greens remind me of the grassy lawn, the white the cold spring-fed river, and the orange the setting sun reflected off the water...or maybe the orange is the crawdads themselves!
"Spring River," 40" x 30" acrylic on canvas with watercolor crayon accents. I also have some fun new earrings and of course have been busy working with the new gems that I bought in Tucson.