North Bay Biz on Local Luxury
HELLO NORTH BAY NEIGHBORS
The North Bay Biz interviewed us for their column on local luxury, writing about Jeffrey's jewelry and other designers and artists we carry. Excited to be featured and spread the word about Poet and the Bench to our North Bay neighbors!
POETRY OF ARTISANS
When an artisan goes “to the bench” to craft jewelry by hand, using the ancient art of lost-wax casting, the approach is similar to the work of a poet. “This is poetry of the artists,” says Bonnie Powers of Poet and the Bench in Mill Valley. Powers and her husband, Jeffrey Levin, are the proprietors of this boutique, and Levin creates many of the pieces himself. Poet and the Bench, which opened last year, is located on Locust Avenue⎯known as the town’s design district⎯and offers handcrafted jewelry for women and men, as well as pottery, fine art and other distinctive home goods.
Born in South Africa, Levin discovered jewelry at age 12 when his father became a partner in the family jewelry business. The jewelry he crafts by hand today is a study in contrasts⎯classic yet modern, organic yet sophisticated, and edgy yet elegant. The original bench where Levin once created his pieces is still on display in the shop.
Levin creates customized jewelry for clients and maintains a collection of unique items in the store, ranging in price from $50 to $2,500. For women, there are large oval wood rings and pendants set with a single white diamond, stacking rings, flat skinny ring slices with pave diamonds, brass and bronze dome rings, labradorite bracelets and more. For men, there are braided leather and sterling silver bracelets, leather wrap bracelets, sterling silver and black diamond bands and necklaces. Each piece of jewelry is a unique work of art, but you’ll also find wheel thrown ceramic vases and bowls, contemporary art and the “I Married Me” kit, featured on CNN, in Cosmopolitan, Time and more. “I Married Me” includes a self-wedding ceremony and vows, a roadmap to celebrate all that is fabulous in its recipient and a handcrafted ring by Levin.
Levin and Powers also sell work by other artists, including Jacqueline Hardy, a jewelry designer in Los Angeles, who’s inspired to reinvent new designs from history (ancient Egypt being her greatest influence); Danielle Welmond, a jewelry designer who specializes in embellishing gems with woven precious metal threads in the centuries-old European crocheting technique; Bob Dinetz, a ceramist, whose pottery is simple, but modern, and includes hand-made details such as variations in size and artful drips on glazed surfaces; and Adele Crawford, a mixed-media artist the couple discovered during her residency at the de Young Museum, who investigates and reimagines discarded objects and images.
Since opening, Poet and the Bench draws mostly North Bay residents from Mill Valley, Larkspur, Tiburon, Corte Madera and San Rafael as well as San Francisco, and beyond. How do they survive in a world of big-box stores? Says Levin, “We hope our passion around the craft of art-making comes across, and the stories our artists tell through their individual works inspires people to come to Poet and the Bench for something unique. We’re not mass. Our items aren’t readily available in other stores.”
“We’re also not overwhelming the space with a lot of artists at one time,” adds Powers, who has a passion for design and serves as shop curator. “We’re practicing a slow-curation model so each artist gets a spotlight. Jeffery’s collection is also constantly evolving, so there’s always something new, even one-of-a-kind pieces, so customers experience us a bit differently each visit.”
Come say hi!
~ Jeffrey & Bonnie