In the studio with Valerie Ostenak

Creating a piece of wearable art is much more than simply bending a few wires and attaching a gemstone. Each museum quality piece created by artist, Valerie Ostenak, owner of VOSTENAKstudios, is a carefully thought out process.

Valerie took a short break to speak with me about her sculptural art jewelry–so, please join me for a few minutes in her studio.

 Valerie, what exactly is sculptural art jewelry?
As I define it, sculptural art jewelry is jewelry which falls into the realm of wearable sculpture. A neckpiece becomes a stand-alone item that, were it bigger, would be as beautiful being presented on a wall as on a woman’s neck and shoulders. A ring larger than life would be at home on a display pedestal. Many of the owners of my jewelry do just that . . . they display them in hinge-front shadow boxes on the wall. The pieces are as desirable shown as sculpture as they are wonderful to wear.

So, when you are looking at steel or silver rods, how do you decide what you want to make?
I get inspired by movement and flow. . . water flowing over pebbles in a stream, ocean waves roaring to rocky cliffs, or wind creating wisps and streamers in the clouds, even vines growing and reaching. If I have just spent time at the ocean, my gestural sketches of jewelry are all related to the motion of the waves . . . rolling, wild and pounding, gentle at the shoreline’s edge. The sketches capture the energy in the movement of the waves, above and below the surface. Everything starts with a feeling of transformation . . . turning the metal into motion.

 Do you envision something?
As I am ready to forge the metal, I see the ocean waves in my head. I can see the metal already in the state of movement . . . undulating and weaving into and through each other. I can see how they are all going to interact to create the feeling that I want the piece to have. It is the same whether it is vines or clouds too. I see those things and the metal becomes them for me.

 How do you know when your piece is finished?
Every piece has a point where I feel in my heart that it is complete. Many times a neckpiece will sit unfinished for a week or more waiting for me to figure out what it needs. I’ll put it on, handle it, look at it for days . . . maybe it’s the addition of another element, or to take a piece off. Perhaps something was not enough, or too much because it stopped the movement. When I know what it needs, I will work at any time of the day or night, as long as it takes for it to be complete. It’s an incredible release when it happens!

Do your pieces ever turn out differently than you imagined it? If so, what do you do then?
Each piece starts with a gestural sketch. This gives me an idea of the movement and the general shape that I want the piece to have. A loose gestural sketch, as opposed to a tight technical drawing, means that the piece is allowed to become. In the stillness of the creative, I have learned to listen to the piece as it is becoming real. If a piece starts to change, forcing it to follow an exact representation of the sketch never works out. It never becomes complete until I release myself to the Creative in the universe and allow that to flow through me. Even in its changes, the piece will have the general movement of the original sketch, but they always become much better.



Initial sketching of “There are Treasures” neckpiece


There are Treasures in the Tangled Seagrass
Finished product-exquisite

If you are interested in learning more about how to purchase this neckpiece, please send an email to:

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