Debbie Cooter

“I was introduced to rug weaving as a folk art. The tradition of using recycled clothing to weave decorative and functional household items appealed to my creative and thrifty nature. I wove hundreds of yards of rugs for people, developing my own style and color schemes,” states Debbie Cooter, who produces sturdy floor coverings and cozy blankets at her studio near Two Harbors, MN. The artist continues to experiment with patterns and dyes her own fabrics, bringing relevant contemporary design to this traditional craft.

Debbie’s textiles have won many awards including Best of Show in Fiber at the 2008 Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis. Active as an arts promoter, she has served on the boards of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and the Art Relief Board in Duluth. For several years, she was the Director of the Depot Art Fair at the Duluth Art Institute, where she was also a weaving instructor.

With her husband, the potter Dick Cooter, Debbie has participated for over a decade in the annual autumn Crossing Borders Studio Tour hosted by North Shore artists in Minnesota and Ontario.

Randall Darwall

With their complex color and patterns, woven scarves from Randall Darwall’s Bass River, MA studio are known for their ability to partner with almost any piece of clothing. “Why use five colors when fifty will do nicely?” asks the artist.

Early in his career, Randall tried painting, but became frustrated. “When I mixed color on my palette I usually ended up with mud because I never knew when to stop. (Weaving) has all the internal logic and order that I lacked,” he explains. Randall personally dyes his fibers and strings the warps on the loom, often collaborating with a trusted assistant, who adds the weft in response. “I design as I weave, struggling to keep up my own end of the conversation with colors, fibers and the constantly chiding voice of function,” he says. Randall uses fine silk that is often combined with other natural fibers for texture and drape. The scarves are tightly woven to withstand wear over time, although they are intended to soften with use.

The artist earned a degree in art history from Harvard before completing a masters’ in art education at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s. He was a faculty member at the Cambridge School of Weston, Massachusetts and has since taught at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee. For the last 30 years he has maintained a small, thriving studio, producing much sought-after wearable art. His partner, Brian Murphy, is a garment designer, who turns Randall’s beautiful cloth into striking vests, jackets and other ensembles.

Randall’s work is represented in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York City’s Museum of Art & Design, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

Martha Monson Lowe

Martha Monson Lowe incorporates rattan, seagrass, driftwood, and vine into the beautiful rattan baskets she crafts at her Decorah, IA studio. Interested in achieving a natural, timeless quality, the artist creates her work – weaving with wet materials – keeping ancient traditions in mind. She draws on time spent living in Africa and is especially interested in clay vessel forms – her husband is the potter George Lowe. “I am intrigued with design, taking traditional baskets and expanding them beyond mere function,” states Martha. “Many of my signature pieces include incorporation of driftwood as a handle to the basket. These ‘Chelan Baskets’ are named for the lake from which the driftwood is gathered.”

Martha weaves with materials that are wetted for pliability. She uses plaiting, twill weave, three and four rod wale, plain and continuous weave and twining techniques. When finished, her baskets are dyed with pigments derived from walnuts she gathers near her home.

Martha has been making baskets since the late 1980s. Largely self-taught, she explains, “I have expanded my weaving abilities through teaching hundreds of basket weaving students through the years,” most recently at Luther College in Decorah.

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson got her start in the jewelry business at a young age by selling custom-designed friendship bracelets to the other fifth graders at lunch. Today she works with gemstones, blackened silver, and pink and yellow gold, producing pieces she describes as “subtle, but edgy.”

The Minneapolis artist explores simple geometry, deftly combining forms that suggest cells and windows with hammered and etched textures, varying the colors of her metals and adding interest with stones from amethyst to black diamond. Whisper-light rings and substantial hammered cuffs are emblematic of her line. Emily also employs copper, feathers, coral and quartz in bolder pieces and offers a whimsical series of forms that reference anatomical hearts, wishbones and the state of Minnesota.

A graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Emily continually draws from her fine art background to fashion unique and sculptural jewelry pieces.

Emily was recently featured on the series MN Original, watch the video here.

Jeff Gray

A native Vermonter, Jeff Gray grew up in the foothills of the Green Mountains. Today he maintains a studio in North Bennington. Jeff cites the rolling hills and colonial Greek Revival houses of the area as influences on his jewelry designs. He is also inspired by other artists, whose example encourages him to test his creative boundaries.

Jeff has been a jeweler for over thirty years, creating classic easy-to-wear designs in silver.

Lisa Sorrell

Custom cowboy boot artist Lisa Sorrell was raised in southwest Missouri and by age 15 was making dresses for the ladies at church, moving on to prom and wedding gowns as her skills improved. After relocating to Guthrie, OK with her husband in 1990, she found she missed her sewing business and answered an ad for someone to “stitch boot tops,” finding her first mentor, legendary bootmaker Jay Griffith. Never having worn cowboy boots, Lisa found the form a perfect fit for her construction skills and love of design. She served as an apprentice to another bootmaker before opening her own business in Guthrie in 1996, and remains committed to the tradition of fit and function while pursuing her passion for the motifs and colors that characterize a custom cowboy boot.

“The interaction of man and nature is a consistent story in my work,” states Lisa, who regularly incorporates butterflies, flowers and leaves in her designs. “My work encourages the viewer to consider both man’s obsession with the perfection of nature and his subconscious desire to contain it.” Between boot commissions, she uses her expert leatherworking skills to create supple, decorated bracelets with a Western feel.

Lisa’s work has been featured in publications as diverse as Cowboys and Indians and Ornament magazines. She has been invited to participate in exhibitions across the country, and won a gold medal for her work during International Shoemaker’s Days in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Britta Lynn Kauppila

 

“All of my designs are handmade by fire and hammer. I love the relationship between the maker and the materials, where human hands manipulate and shape metal to become something very soft, delicate, yet substantial,” states metalsmith and jewelry artist Britta Lynn Kauppila. “Since the dawn of day man has adorned himself with jewelry. I draw from this historical element to create pieces that tell their own story or piece of history. I love to work in ancient techniques including granulation and keum boo and accent them with antique gems like rose cut diamonds and sapphires. There is a close relationship between the piece of jewelry and the handmade process. In my metal work I am very interested in texture. Nature provides a wonderful example of how different value, form, line, and texture combine to produce movement, rhythm, and harmony. Asymmetrical figures produce symmetrical forms as symmetrical patterns also breed asymmetrical themes. I am drawn to the contradiction of the hard, immovable, structural metal mimicking the most delicate and soft pieces of nature.”

The artist holds a BA in art with a concentration in jewelry and metals from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. After several years developing her line in Minneapolis, Britta established a studio in Duluth in early 2011.

Britta was recently featured in the series MN Original, watch the video here.

 

J Lynn Brofman

J Lynn Brofman studied jewelry making and repair then apprenticed with a small manufacturer before opening her own design studio in 2002. Her work draws on the graceful simplicity of natural forms as well as the geometric shapes popularized by mid-century Scandinavian design. Lynn creates sterling silver earrings and pins – her gingko motifs are particular favorites with local collectors. She employs a fold forming technique – following the metal’s particular characteristics to determine shape – to make cuff bracelets.

A former nurse, Lynn is a Denver native who now lives and works in Minneapolis.

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Lynn Brofman

Judith Kinghorn

Judith Kinghorn is a popular Minneapolis jewelry designer who works primarily in high karat gold, sterling silver and precious stones. Multi-layered and intricately textured, Judith’s pieces are comprised of heavy layers of sterling silver and 24 karat gold fused together and embossed with hand etched plates. Her designs are typically die formed, granulated in 22 karat gold and are frequently accented with gemstones.

“I am drawn to forms and shapes arising from both the natural and man-made worlds and I seem to store them as an internal inventory,” explains the artist. “My work is about transforming these visual impressions into objects of beauty in gold, silver and precious gemstones.

My process is essentially intuitive and I fabricate directly in the metals without sketches. Then I work responsively to form pieces from an array of the metals and stones. Much like ancient jewelry artists, many of my pieces are made by using a mouth torch to fuse heavy layers of gold and sterling silver. One piece informs the next. Invariably, the pieces evolve into greater complexity from the original idea.

My artistic satisfaction lies in the capture of often-contradictory relationships combined with my love of hand-making and the manipulation of materials. The pieces, in turn, take on lives of their own as I name them and speak about them to my clients and those who inquire about my work. Of great significance is the collaboration between maker and wearer; I don’t consider my work finished until it finds its home with the wearer.”

Judith is the recipient of many honors, including juried ‘Best in Jewelry’ awards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art craft show and the American Craft Council show. She has been awarded commissions for commemorative pieces to mark the opening of the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis and recognition pieces for the National Association of Women Judges, Washington, DC. Her work was recently featured on the cover of Ornament Magazine.

Brittany Foster

Minneapolis artist Brittany Foster began taking jewelry-making classes at age 12 and earned a degree from The School for American Crafts in 2001. Her antiqued silver designs, recently crafted in combination with wood, are cutting edge but reflect a sense of history.

Brittany states, “I make things as a matter of necessity; my fingers are always inching toward the work bench. I make things that look like they do because of plants. And illuminated manuscripts. And old toys. And insects … “

In February 2011, Brittany was featured on the tpt series MN Original. Watch the video here.