Conversations with an Artist: Esther Sullivan
After earning her metalsmithing degree at Montana State University, Esther honed her craft working with jewelers in Vermont, and launched her eponymous collection with a return to the scenic mountain ranges and expansive nature in Bozeman. We met Esther in the Bay Area and were enamored with her metal work–the combination of 14k and 18k gold with oxidized silver and reticulation, hammering and patina techniques. Each of Esther's jewelry pieces are individually made, giving them a one-of-a-kind feel. Beautiful pieces with just the right amount of edge.
Describe the moment you realized designing fed your soul.
I grew up in rural Vermont without any other houses in sight, so there was a lot of playing outdoors with my siblings. At some point I started dragging a sketchbook along with me everywhere to draw anything I ended up plopping next to, in a fort or some quiet place on my own. I have a distinct memory of climbing a favorite tree with my sketchbook and drawing the branches and leaves for hours, just because.
What themes do you pursue in your craft?
I find myself always exploring different layers of the human journey and our connection with the natural world. Whether it is a simple intuitive creation or a well thought out symbolic form, all of my pieces carry a familiar theme and feel.
Tell us about what influences the direction for your jewelry collection.
Sacred geometry. I am fascinated by these patterns and shapes found in nature and how they have gained particular meaning and symbolism throughout time. I love learning from our past and the strong connection we had with the natural world. I kept seeing these forms consistently show up in my designs unintentionally, which caused me to explore them more deeply, and now I am creating a whole line dedicated to the theme.
Inner Orbit Necklace, Seeded Path Necklace, Harvest Moon Earrings, Mixed Metals Stacking Rings
How has your work developed over time?
My work is always changing all of the time and will continue to do so, its just how I work. What I have noticed is that my confidence in what is behind my work; the skills, the inspiration, the bones; it has strengthened immensely over time, causing there to be more linear themes and subtler changes in my designs.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
My sketchbook and any old black pen. I sketch out ideas, but honestly a lot of my designs come from thoughts that are scribbled out in words on my sketchbook and then are translated into metal shapes, forming symbols of that thought or feeling.
Do you collect anything?
Heart shaped rocks. Feathers. Dried grasses and seed pods.
Seeded Hoops and Feathery Earrings
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I just took a trip down to the Southern Utah desert. That landscape is absolute magic. The textures, the energy, the immensity and power all the while is so fragile and raw. It is rejuvenating, deeply spiritual and absolutely inspiring to me on so many levels.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Trust the process… the success, the failures, the loss and the joy. All are equally important parts of the journey. Don’t let fear guide you. Be confident. Be light, play and have fun creating! It's funny, as I think of this, it is just as important to hear and reflect of those things for my present self as well as my past.
Reticulation Cuff and Binding Light Ring
For Esther, metalsmithing provides a boundless gateway for expression and discovery... In a further conversation, we talked about the internal need to create and Esther discussed a very personal and poignant (especially of late) build on her response to the 8 Questions:
"And what I realized I didn't really include in the answers is that my recently past work was based on an emotional journey of healing from loss. And through that journey, it naturally flowed into my more current work about the connection to the universe (both the spiritual and physical patterns) throughout time... the two bodies of work flow in and out from one another, but there was a turning point for me and my creative process became less about the healing and inward focus, and more about growth and expansion. Sometimes you have to go back to the basics, start small, and then it expands naturally."
~Come by and try on this cool brand! Or give us a ring (no pun intended) and we'll talk you through the collection...
See you soon,
Bonnie & Jeffrey