P & H Pick | Introducing Jewelry Designer Melissa Skarsten

At Patina & Hue we love to have conversations with amazing women who have great style and inspire us all. For this reason I am excited to feature our latest artist–designer— Melissa Skarsten—a longtime friend and talented jewelry designer who mixes metals and infuses expressions of natural elements into her work. A couple of months ago I stopped by Melissa's studio to see her latest jewelry and discovered she was making 100 new one-of-a-kind pieces for the upcoming Park City Arts Festival. Melissa is both prolific in her work and dedicated to uninterrupted time in her studio so I was delighted to see what she was planning for the arts festival to share with all of you. Scroll down to see some of her fabulous pieces and to read more:

Tree of Life Series  |  Tree & Tahitian Pearl  |   Sterling silver with 18K gold leaves and a black Tahitian pearl drop.

Tree of Life Series  |  Tree & Tahitian Pearl  |  Sterling silver with 18K gold leaves and a black Tahitian pearl drop.

Images above clockwise from top right: His-Hers River Rings (River Series) Sterling silver, Her ring is set with a yellow Citrine gemstone  | Fall Acorn Earrings & Leaves (Acorn series) Earrings are torched enameled copper with green jasper bead. Leaf Pendant is torched enameled copper on a oxidized sterling silver chain.  |  Ring Box (Twig series) Hand turned wooden box with a sterling silver twig pull.  |  Twigs Rooted Necklace (Tree of life series) Sterling silver with a Chrysoprase gemstone.

Twig Hair Comb  (Twig series) Sterling silver

Twig Hair Comb (Twig series) Sterling silver

Top left: River Cuff links & Box(River series) Oxidized sterling silver with 14K gold cufflinks in a wooden box with a sterling silver twig pull.
Top right: River Bracelet (River series) Oxidized sterling silver with 14K gold bracelet slide on leather.

Melissa's Signature Style  |   Golden Citrine Flower |  Black and Gold series | Oxidized sterling silver and 14K gold pendant set with a yellow Citrine gemstone

Melissa's Signature Style  |  Golden Citrine Flower | Black and Gold series | Oxidized sterling silver and 14K gold pendant set with a yellow Citrine gemstone

Peruvian Opal Ring  (Twig series) Sterling silver with a Peruvian opal set in 22K Gold.

Peruvian Opal Ring (Twig series) Sterling silver with a Peruvian opal set in 22K Gold.

Men's River cufflinks in a handmade wooden box with silver twig  |  Available at the Gala Auction Event Thursday, July 30th.  Click here  to learn more about the Opening night gala Fundraiser / Fashion Show at the Montage, Deer Valley.  

Men's River cufflinks in a handmade wooden box with silver twig  |  Available at the Gala Auction Event Thursday, July 30th. Click here to learn more about the Opening night gala Fundraiser / Fashion Show at the Montage, Deer Valley.  

Q: Melissa, I know from our conversations that you derive a great deal of creative inspiration from being outdoors. How does that directly inform your work?
A; "The natural world is always pulling at me…. to slow down, to step outside and experience the “mystery within nature”—my work celebrates what I experience in those moments. To be more specific, old-growth forests fascinate me. As I was developing my distinct visual voice, memories from an extraordinary visit to a coastal redwood forest kept appearing, inspiring the textures and color palettes I began using. More important, it was the emotions I felt when standing in that primeval forest I started to capture in different pieces, and an organic elegance and sense of antiquity showed up in my work."


"...it was the emotions I felt when standing in that primeval forest I started to capture in different pieces, and an organic elegance and sense of antiquity showed up in my work."

Q: It must take a great deal of time to create one-of-a-kind pieces. What can you tell us about that process:
A: "Pieces can take days or even weeks. My work is done in a spontaneous manner, an idea may be scribbled out as a starting point, but materials and techniques guide the work into a finished piece. This evolutionary process keeps my creative thoughts flowing."

"To propagate this evolution of a design, I make one-of-kind pieces, each piece inspiring the next. Serial imagery or what I like to call the “kaleidoscope effect” is where I take a piece and redesign it…. and like the turn of the kaleidoscope, the variations are endless. By making one-of-a-kind pieces, I emulate nature and promote our individuality as humans, which I find a breath of fresh air in a world of mass produced, identical products."

"The ancient technique of granulation is perfect for creating organic texture.  For my river series, I use a torch to fuse tiny grains of gold and raised lines of silver onto the metal surface of the piece. I then expand the technique by flowing melted gold in and around the applied textures. To achieve the rich color palette, I oxidize the piece a deep black to illuminate the gold. For my botanical pieces, the gemstones and the metal finishes I choose, allow me to express the dance of movement that light, mist and breeze create in the forest."

Q: When did you start making jewelry?
A: "I was drawn to artistic mediums that were very hands-on and fell in love, almost immediately, with metal-smithing while in high school. I later went to on study at The Revere Academy in San Francisco where I became a traditionally trained goldsmith and for a brief time I worked as a bench jeweler. The lure of creating a life in which I was a working artist led me out of the commercial marketplace to open my own studio in 2007. The arts and crafts marketplace is a perfect fit for the type of creative work I do and fits with my lifestyle."

Q: I've noticed that some women feel if they are wearing one color of gold, or other metal such as silver that they are hesitant to mix it up with their jewelry or metallic accents on their shoes and handbags. Your work has a lovely intermingling of different types and colors of metals. What would you say to someone who might be concerned about wearing their rose gold along side of their silver or white gold? 
A: "Yes, I love combining different colors of metals into my work and I do know that years ago it was considered chic to keep your metals all the same color. But time has changed that concept—now women, and men alike can layer on different metals into one look and feel confident about doing so....I would say have fun with your jewelry, toss the old rules out as anything goes these days!"

 

Melissa was raised in Pasadena California, moved to Santa Barbara, then San Francisco, before landing in the mountain town of Park City, Utah with her husband and daughter. You can see more of her work on her website by clicking here or at the upcoming Park City Arts Festival, July 31-August 2, 2015. 

Thank you Melissa for taking the time to share your beautiful work with us. Click here to learn more about the Park City Arts Festival. email: mskarsten@comcast.net website: Jewelrybym.com



Wendy Chioji: SAYING YES & LIVING FEARLESSLY

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At the summit of Mt. Fuji in August 2014 with my 75 year old dad

At the summit of Mt. Fuji in August 2014 with my 75 year old dad

At the summit of Kilimanjaro February 2014

At the summit of Kilimanjaro February 2014

photos above: clockwise from top right: Wendy in a slot canyon near the Amangiri Spa in Southern Utah, October 2014; At the end of an Ireland trip with family; Summit day on Mt. Kilimanjaro; At the Livestrong headquarters. 

Wendy and I met initially while indoor cycling at Athletic Republic. I knew her as an amazing athlete and was told by several of our mutual friends that in addition to that she was also a completely inspiring person. A few weeks ago we met at Starbucks for a cup of tea and within a few short minutes I learned exactly what they were talking about. Wendy has achieved so much—from her years in Florida as a news anchor, to her many adventures which include summiting Kilimanjaro and completing multiple Ironman Triathlons. But it isn't just what Wendy has accomplished that makes her so inspirational—it is also her message of Living Fearlessly that I find a breath of fresh air. You don't hear that too often from women 40 and over. Taking risks and saying "YES" to life is an important message for us all to remember. Thank you Wendy for sharing your time and your story with us! 


Wendy Chioji

"In 2001, I was the main news anchor at the NBC affiliate in Orlando. I had just run the Boston Marathon and was training to do a cross-Florida adventure race. Until my doctor told me I had stage ll breast cancer. I was 39 years old at the time. I went through multiple surgeries, chemo, and a clinical trial, and obviously made it through to the other side. Up until that point in my life, I had done a lot of running races, adventure races, and a few triathlons. I was also entrenched in the Orlando community, donating countless hours of volunteer work and public speaking for non-profits in the area. I redoubled efforts in both areas of my life. I started doing Ironman distance triathlons (I’ve now done 6) and half Iron distance triathlons (I’ve done 24). I started raising money and support for Livestrong (with the podium of a tv station and generous friends and family, I have raised well over a quarter-million dollars for the organization). I was making sure that my Second Chance wouldn’t be wasted on  inertia.

 'The name of my blog is “Live Fearlessly,” and I believe it to be the mantra of my life.
It’s how I make decisions and choose adventures, options, even friends.'

A few years later, I realized that keeping busy "doing good" didn’t necessarily mean I would feel fulfilled. I had become increasingly disillusioned with my job and profession. I decided it was time to walk away. So I did. It took some finagling, but I left my 20-year position at the tv station and followed some friends out to Park City, Utah, where I have now happily lived since 2008. Here, my life is my own. I have loved and still love every day, never failing to look around and consciously note how lucky I am to live in this outdoor paradise full of like-minded people. It probably should have felt risky and scary to leave a stable job, friends I’d had nearly my entire adult life, and a town I’d been a part of for two decades, but it never did. 

To me, Living Fearlessly is making big life-changing decisions like the move to Utah… and saying “YES” to smaller opportunities and adventures on a regular basis. If your first response to an invitation or opportunity is “no” or is coming up with reasons that it won’t work, you are limiting your possibilities before you even get out of the gate. Say “YES,” and if you have to amend your commitment later, go ahead and do it. What’s the worst that could happen? I suppose moving to Park City, only having been here once before, could have ended disastrously… But I said “YES,” and it may have been the best decision of my life. Giving in to fear (or inertia) will paralyze you. So will "make do" because things are FINE. I’ve seen it happen, and there’s not much that makes me sadder or more irritated. 

Because I am now facing cancer for a third time. Standard chemo and radiation won’t work for me anymore. My only chance is to say "YES" to a clinical trial, experimental treatments that no one knows will work. I have no time or patience for fear or inertia. I am in one clinical trial and have lined up another one—if and when this one doesn’t work anymore. And in the meantime, I am saying "YES" to trips to Ireland and Australia and powder cat skiing in the Uintas and having reunions with old friends and launching fundraising cycling projects with Livestrong and Pelotonia (a new one, now run by an old friend). None of us know how long we have on this earth, and I believe our charge is to grab adventure by the throat at every chance. Live big. Live fearlessly.

"And always choose pie for breakfast." 
~ Wendy

To learn more visit the links below:

Pelotonia 

Livestrong 

You can learn more about Wendy on her blog: 

http://www.wendychioji.com