The latticework of bridges and electric towers inspire the 3-D sculptural jewelry designs of North Carolina’s Sarah West.
Artist: Born in Seattle, West grew up in the greater Boston area. She earned a two-year bench jewelry certificate from the North Bennet Street School in Boston.
In her 20s, after working as a bench jeweler, West moved to Asheville and started working on her own designs.
But it wasn’t until she took classes at Penland School of Craft in 2005 that she found her creative direction and decided to go back to college.
In 2011, she graduated with a BFA in jewelry and metal design from East Carolina University.
West moved in 2012 to Raleigh for a six-month NC Emerging Artist Residency at Artspace, a non-profit visual arts space. When the residency ended, West stayed and rented studio space at Artspace for six years.
Company/studio: Sarah West Designs, based near Raleigh in Garner, NC, started in 2012. West converted her home’s garage into a studio.
Art & materials: Mostly sculptural, lightweight jewelry using steel wire and mixed materials. Also low-relief wall pieces and larger installations.
- Crystalline earrings ($160 to $240).
- Trapezoid rings ($165 to $250), often with sculpted segments cut from vinyl records to add color. West sources the vinyl LPs on eBay.
“I like that they are cultural artifacts,” said West. “But I try not to cut up any good artist or bands.”
Other favorite: Original crystalline necklace ($480 to $560).
- Each piece is made from mild steel fabricated by cutting and brazing small lengths of steel wire to create three-dimensional forms.
- When brazing, she introduces molten brass into the connection points of the heated steel.
- The pieces are finished in natural steel gray, blackened with a heat patina or plated with 2.5 micron thick 18k gold plate.
- If adding color to pieces, West cuts vinyl with a jewelry saw. The files and sands the piece. She uses a heat gun to mold vinyl into the shapes she needs and prong-sets them.
Favorite tool: Her torch.
Inspirations: Many, including:
- Artists: Calder, Franz Kline and Lee Bontecou.
- Architecture of bridges and electric towers.
- Math and geometry.
- City and urban landscapes.
Fun or special commission: A hanging steel and linen sculpture, called “Gathering” in the lobby of the AC Hotel in Times Square (below right).
Ongoing: Teaching various jewelry classes at the Pullen Arts Center and Sertoma Arts Center in Raleigh.
- 67th Annual Virginia MOCA Boardwalk Art Show, Virginia Beach, VA. Oct. 20-22.
- Craft + Design Show, Richmond, VA. Nov. 17-19.
Where to buy:
- Instagram: @sarahwestdesigns
- Facebook: sarahwestdesigns
- TikTok: sarahwestdesigns.