RESIDENT MASTER JEWELER
Jeffrey Levin (pronounced ‘lehveen’) is the resident master jeweler, goldsmith and co-founder of Poet and/the Bench. As Jeffrey's jewelry workshop, Poet and/the Bench is where he creates fine, signature and custom jewelry for women and men. In addition to his eponymous collection, Jeffrey designs commitment rings, engagement rings, wedding bands, special occasion gifts, reimagines old heirlooms into new ones and collaborates with clients to realize bespoke, one-of-kind pieces.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa to parents of Egyptian-French and Lithuanian provenance, Jeffrey discovered jewelry early in life. At age 12, his father became a partner in the family jewelry business. Jeffrey grew up in the workshops, observing and increasingly enamored with the art of custom jewelry making. He pursued a formal 4 year apprenticeship, working under journeymen and completing National Technical Certificates in jewelry theory, gemology, maths and design/drawing before he left South Africa for New York, followed by Los Angeles and now the Bay Area. Jeffrey designs and manufactures using the lost-wax casting method and is a collector of objects of appreciation—an influence he attributes to his mother, Rosette. Read more here and visit Jeffrey's jewelry website to see more of his work: jeffreylevin.com
San Francisco-based Christine Trac is the designer of Abacus Row. She has an aesthetic for rich materials and simple composition, and a strong appreciation for detail in design and craftsmanship. A background in ethnographic research and environmental conservation shapes Christine's direction on design and process. She is focused on designing jewelry that emphasizes the beauty of small details and timeless styles, and is inspired by a process of production that celebrates craft and community.
Betsy & Iya is the jewelry line by husband and wife team, Betsy Cross and Will Cervarich, out of Portland, Oregon. Betsy designs and runs the creative team and Bill handles operations. We were introduced to their collection when a client of Poet and/the Bench was wearing a cuff bracelet we admired. Soon after, we were heading to Oregon on a road trip and we visited the Betsy & Iya studio. We love their varied influences, their approachable and fun culture, and their celebration of beauty in details big and small.
While living in Italy and France, Danielle Welmond become obsessed with lace-making and was determined to discover how to bring that to jewelry. She is inspired by her love of the delicacy and feminine form of lace, the mesmerizing power of beautifully combined gems, and the inert nature of fine metal. Danielle merges the three elements to create a style of jewelry that has become her signature design: weaving gems with fine threads and precious metals. Crafted from her Southern California and East Bay studios, her stunning jewelry has a regal flare with a modern aesthetic.
Krista Gambrel’s fascination with shape and form were inspired by a distinct moment in her life, when at around 10 years old, she discovered Michelangelo's marble carvings on the internet. She quickly took to filling and freezing balloons to then chip away at the frozen material with her father's hammer and nails. This sculptural and architectural approach can be seen today in her Ende Collection, crafted in San Francisco. Her clean aesthetic and modern design commingle with her articulation of shape shifters in society, most frequently legendary women who’ve managed to redefine the female role in society.
Esther Sullivan earned a metalsmithing degree from Montana State University in 2005, and after working with jewelers in Vermont and Bozeman she launched her eponymous collection, Esther Metals. She works out of her downtown Bozeman studio where she hand fabricates her designs—industrial forms built with textured material and highly oxidized metal matched with bright 14k and 18k gold. Her jewelry is refined and thoughtful; each piece has a one-of-a-kind feel and a deep connection to the earth.
We have been coveting the work of Elizabeth Strathern for a few years. Her hand-formed jewelry speaks to craft in the most brilliant of raw meets delicate meets fierce heroine. Her Franny E Fine collection masterfully melds together ancient themes with contemporary design and subjects. We're thrilled to feature this jewelry from Vancouver, Canada in the shop!
Loren Lewis Cole communicates though her jewelry something about where she’s from–not just culturally, but in a bigger sense of how she sees the world. She considers jewelry to contain many layers and levels; it’s an artifact of unparalleled complexity and mystery. Loren’s collection evokes sensuality and of global adornment with an ancestral edge, often inspired by her travels and conversations with the people, especially women, she meets along the way.
Maddalena Bearzi is a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer, scientist and author. She has a Ph.D. in Biology and is president of the research and environmental non-profit Ocean Conservation Society. We love that in Maddalena’s jewelry, you can see the influences of her work in the natural environment and which comes through in her use of environmentally-friendly practices. Her jewelry is organic, earthy, elegant and with that right bit of edge.
Mariella Pilato is originally from Sorrento, Italy, and was educated at the Accademia de Belle Arti in Napes and Florence. She now lives in Bali where she has evolved her craft, using gems and materials in bold and unusual ways. Her Italian heritage, linked to heroic legends, myths and mermaids, combined with the magical history and ancient arts of the Indonesian archipelago push both her imagination and creativity to new artistic levels. We're so fortunate to carry examples of her collections that marry style and innovation.
We were struck by the geometric and architectural shapes featured in Olivia Shih's jewelry collection. They have bold strength and at the same time an elegant grace. She hand sculpts each piece transforming the acrylic and brass into textural jewelry. Olivia's collection landed across the Bay from her Oakland studio.
Nicole Rimedio and Scott Zankman are the creators behind Variance Objects, the enchanting jewelry line that honors the natural beauty of raw materials. A trained architect, Nicole’s collection is edgy and elegant, inspired by rediscovery of ancient and antique jewelry. Scott manages visuals and operations and together, they have a passion for sourcing the finest gem specimens, which they hand cut. Variance’s signature mixed precious metal bands are made of 14-24k yellow, rose and white gold embedded into oxidized sterling silver. Each setting is unique to the stone, giving you a one-of-a-kind look.
Yellow designer Jess Lea combines minimalism with a youthful edge to create her unique approach to jewellery making. The Sculpture Series is a love story about freedom. It embodies emotional expression through movement and free forming shapes. Her Icon jewellery was inspired by pop art and fashion—graphic jewelry that make a statement, no matter the size.
Bob Dinetz is an accomplished graphic designer and a member of The Berkeley Potter’s Studio. Years of collecting Japanese and American pottery inspired him to explore making pottery of his own and we were thrilled when we saw Bob's stunning ceramic work. His wheel-thrown pottery happily lack the industrial precision of machine-made ceramics—sensual shapes, naked clay and glazes. Each piece is numbered to indicate the pounds of clay used and the type of clay—from mix, mix with grog, recycled and soldate 60 to black mountain and porcelain.
Originally from the Netherlands, Judith Lemmens' roots can be found in Dutch Design. After a career in interior design and later illustration, she has been working in ceramics since 2015 from her Mill Valley studio. Jeffrey was a 2016 judge for the annual Mill Valley Arts Festival where Judith Lemmens was exhibiting her handmade ceramics. All three judges on the panel unanimously honored Judith a Best in Show. It was only natural we would then visit her studio—and get to know more about the Julems collection, her strong sense of object and her decorative approach.
Kelly Shimoda of Shimoda Ceramics makes hand built ceramics, including jewelry, tableware, and sculptural pieces from her Berkeley studio. Her work has a visceral quality, inspired by observations of landscape, the natural world, textiles, and metallic elements. Her blocks and figures capture a strong element of play. Her wallhangings beg to be transformed regularly. Her jewelry is a study in texture, both tactile and visual.
Sisters Ceramics are pottery characters at the beginning of the road, and trying out ideas. If you're reading this, we're not real like you. But we each have personal and real reasons for doing pottery: Massa is regular, straight and true; Kimmi is research driven; and Koko, just way way out there. You might wonder how our fictional battles materialize into bowls, cups and plates. Sometimes we wonder ourselves!! We like our pottery to feel ordinary and real, and it's so great when someone reports back they use it everyday. Some work is simple and quiet, some louder, some feels like it came out of the ground like a potato. Great to be sisters, but also happy to be different.
Whitney Sharpe is an Oakland-based artist with a handcrafted ceramic studio where she makes all of her stunning wall hangings, jewelry and home decor under The Latch Key brand. Whitney first started working with clay as a child. She received formal training in the fine arts at Savannah College of Art and Design with a focus in ceramics, textiles, sculpture, and painting. From this multi-medium education, Whitney was able to explore traditional and craft based mediums while converging intention, concept and quality.
Founded in Charlottesville, Virginia by Corry Blanc, the Blanc Creatives team fuses strong culinary roots and curious artistic backgrounds. The steel cookware collection in stock at Poet and/the Bench features skillets, roasting pans, sauciers and accessories. Each is forged in-house and entirely by hand. Your food wants to be cooked and presented in these!
Terasu is a Sausalito and Tokyo-based creative studio rooted in Mountain, Ocean, and Food culture producing cooking tools and independent publications both locally and from Japan. Working with a variety of artists, chefs, and makers across many mediums they aim to illuminate new perspectives by bringing into a focus a variety of living things. The result is a convergence of skills, materials, and ideas and products that include Japanese cooking tools, serving boards, and aprons along with printed matter.
We can identify the exact moment we fell in love with Tina Frey's serving ware. We were at a dinner party and Tina was also there as a guest. We were admiring the tall pedestal dish that reminded us of Alice in Wonderland, the long trough filled with chocolate covered almonds that elevated them so, the pedestal pie plate that made the oozing blueberry pastry more extra... And we ended up talking with Tina about her engineering background and how that informed her art. We couldn't get the porcelain-like resin fresh, modern and organic forms out of our heads, and wanted to bring more of her delightful and elegant collection to Marin.
Kaja Skytte is an architect and home goods designer out of Copenhagen, Denmark and with a special focus on materials and the playful interaction between space and gravity. We discovered Kaja and her studio when we were walking through the Vesterbro neighborhood of Copenhagen. The Galaxy Globe mobiles hanging in the window captured our attention with their modern, jewel-like elegance resembling small solar systems. Her Planteplaneter are based on a traditional Japanese technique and we loved the way they made the plants heroic in their suspension. We wanted more. While bringing plants from overseas wasn't possible, we're excited to share Kaja's Galaxy Globes, Halos and Hangers.
This Copenhagen-based design company is the product of 2 architects and a cabinet maker who believe in keeping it simple, yet still aesthetically pleasing. Moebe focuses on the essentials, keeping their output analogue while staying curious, thereby creating intuitive and honest products. We were drawn to their inventive use of elegant wood materials held together by rubber bands and sought out their showroom while we were in Copenhagen.
SoCal company Küdd:Krig, which translates in Swedish to "pillow fight," makes luxury pillows and blankets with intriguing designs, pattern manipulation and hand-loomed heavyweight cotton. Founder and designer Kalla McGuire marries her loves for painting and interior design by creating handmade pieces that make any home feel like a stroke of genius. All items feature ethically-sourced materials and the rich shades and textured fabrics for the blankets are lined with ultra-soft faux sherpa or faux fur backing. No two pieces are exactly alike, making each work a one-of-a-kind.
Ineke Rühland is a classically trained perfumer who studied at the ISIPCA in Versailles, France, the only university-level perfumery school in the world. Ineke's experience as a professional nose, travels in the Netherlands, England and France, continued studies with sojourns to Grasse and a 3 year apprenticeship at a fragrance house in Paris coalesced in her own perfume "stories". From her base in San Francisco, she continues to expand her Alphabet Collection, a journey of the ABC's, currently with the latest release of I for her Idyllwild scent, and the upcoming soon to be revealed J scent.
Pure Mana Hawaii is a stunning example of clean beauty. Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Eco-Friendly and Non-GMO, their products have a foundation in organic macadamia nut oils from their Mahina Mele farm. One of nature’s most powerful skincare treasures, macadamia nuts are replete with anti-oxidants and fatty acids. Few other oils can match all of its health benefits to the skin. Get glowing from the inside and out and experience beauty for the planet and your skin.
WALL ART & ART PRINTS
Linda Benenati studied art and English and had a career in graphics and writing prior to discovering encaustic painting. She loves the interplay of images and themes and often begins an artwork with a simple lyric, a favorite phrase or vivid memory. Colorful, humorous and provocative, she is also inspired by the art masters, theater, 1920’s and 30’s collectibles, bees, dogs, cats and anything French.
Melissa Holden is a Bay Area printmaker. She uses shape, color, line, space and pattern to create the balance and counter point in her abstract limited edition prints. Her graphic block prints are produced using a relief block printing method that she developed, mixing her own colors for full control over the result. The technique highlights crisp lines and shapes as well as the natural texture left from a hand pulled block print; printed by hand on handmade Japanese papers with safe wash oil-based inks. Melissa’s original illustrations in black and white communicate a delightful narrative with their distinct creative style, use of heavy black ink and white space. The minimal silhouettes and vignettes are charming individually, for any age, and we love them paired together and combined on a collage wall.
Largely self-taught in the disciplines of drawing, printmaking, collage, book making, and painting, Karen McAlister Shimoda is influenced by materials, color, and size. She has found that working with semi-transparent Dura-Lar, a plastic substrate, is encouraging her to paint more freely and fluently. She uses both sides of the Dura-Lar in her micro paintings, giving them added depth and contrast. These "littles" are 4" square and explore color and discovering how colors and combinations of color can portray an emotional expression. Through her Field Notes, Karen is developing an ethics of seeing and inhabiting the natural world, in which she interprets both an affirmation, in arrangement and evolution, of the human-made world, as well as an exhortation on how to function and behave in an organic, responsible way, within the human-made world’s increasing digression away from it.
PRINT & PUBLICATIONS
A birthday gift to Jeffrey of The California Field Atlas introduced us to the world of Obi Kaufmann, naturalist, author, artist, poet, teacher. Obi pairs data with art in his stunning and compelling way; each page, each experience with his books invites us to discover aspects of our beautiful and complicated state and inspires us to joyfully adventure, dig deeper and help protect its natural environment. Come take a walk in Obi's world with us!
Terasu is a Sausalito and Tokyo-based creative studio rooted in Mountain, Ocean, and Food culture producing cooking tools and independent publications both locally and from Japan. Working with a variety of artists, chefs, and makers across many mediums they aim to illuminate new perspectives by bringing into a focus a variety of living things. The result is a convergence of skills, materials, and ideas and products that includes stunning editorial Zines and coffee table books in addition to culinary tools.
For Truth to Paper, artist duo Rachel Hebert and Kate Nicholson work together in a collaborative process writing poetry, making visual art and creating experiences. We love how they are bringing contemporary poetry into the world and off the page–language that speaks to the human condition and moves us. Stunningly romantic, powerful, compelling. We are enamored with Truth to Paper’s printed matter that feels more like art in any form: place card, greeting card or artwork.
We have long admired the paintings by Maine-based Jean Jack in the design office of her daughter and Mill Valley-based interior designer Kress Jack. Jean's artwork conveys the quiet dignity of architectural shapes as she rearranges them, tries them out from different perspectives, composes them in varying color relationships, and emphasizes the specific beauty of different forms. She loves these buildings for their imperfections and idiosyncrasies; and it is both impossible and unimportant to know exactly when or where these places exist, because they are creations of the artist. We are thrilled to bring Jean's work to our new Poet and/the Bench location in Downtown Mill Valley.
Jeffrey Palladini has been painting for the past 20 years. His work has been exhibited in solo, group and juried exhibitions and is included in many private and corporate collections. There is a thread of the familiar in his work, a result of a gradual evolution over time, where each artwork informs the next. You can look at his paintings from fifteen years ago, and follow that forward to what he’s currently working on in the studio, and while you will see experimentation and evolution, the changes form a consistent and recognizable continuum. “Jeffrey’s compositions are compelling not only for their emotive quality wherein we can find our own mirror, there is a graphical quality in the bold chromatic aesthetic, and perhaps familiar notes of the Swiss Style in his pursuit of simplicity,” shares Bonnie Powers, Poet and/the Bench co-founder.
The paintings of Laura Roebuck highlight the interplay of color, shape, and texture with intuition and movement. She brings her background in psychology into the abstract concepts of her work–art became both therapeutic for her and a way of self-expression during more challenging times of her career. Laura's work also reimagines everyday worn-in objects into mixed media art. We love how Laura's art holds space in compelling ways, allowing your mind to wander.
The (OMG covetable) “Toro” Sculpture by Austyn Taylor is a shining example of her figurative work, existing where Hieronymus Bosch meets Picasso. The red bull calls back to our animist history where wandering spirits found refuge in masks and idols. Toro was made with Poet and/the Bench in mind and sold in 2018. We are now featuring a full collection of Austyn's sculptures at the shop, each marries Austyn’s view on contemporary design with pop culture. "Lucky us, animals that imagine being human."