Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How it's Made : Birchbark Jewelry

Deborah Bushinski is the artist and founder of Tessoro Jewelry.  With a dedication to using environmentally friendly materials, and a unique mix of color, texture, and composition, Deborah's pieces are truly original.  We are excited to present you with an inside look into the Tessoro studio, as well as the creative process itself!

How did you get started?
It all started with birchbark about 30 years ago when, as a painter, I designed and crafted some birch jewelry that I painted directly on to. Over the next years during a marketing career, jewelry developed in the side lines. After receiving much encouragement from family and friends in 1998 Tessoro was launched.

Where is your studio located?
Tessoro jewelry is entirely made in Minnetonka, Minnesota, in our home based studio with the help of a small production team.  I love the commute each morning!

Can you take us through your creative process?
The process starts with harvesting the birchbark, salvage from the logging industry of Northern Minnesota. The bark is cleaned and weighted for 3-6 months before being used in Tessoro designs.

Each design requires a different thickness or color of bark and/or lichen so the selection is very important. 

The desired shape is cut or torn. 

In some designs re-purposed copper from car radiators is applied or, as in the Etruscan collection, gold leaf. 

The designs are finished off with acrylic polymer to seal the application of hammered metals and gemstones.

What inspires your collections?
In my years of designing jewelry, inspiration has come from many sources.  Being involved with fashion has always excited me. I am inspired by runway designers and glean much out of viewing a designer's collection as a whole. It always reminds me to be concise about my vision. Having my jewelry designs included in how a woman chooses to dress is an honor.

Nature with its perfect colors/textures and light/dark contrasts has always proven to be an excellent teacher, indirectly informing my design decisions.

Traveling always opens up a new perspective for me and experiencing a sense of place very often inspires me to embody the essence of it in a collection.

Alexander Calder's wire jewelry has also been very inspiring. The beauty and art he created with simple materials is amazing.

Regardless of the source of inspiration, I have always taken a very playful approach to designing.  Beginning with a concept in mind, the materials always are suggestive of a solution, and often deliver unexpected surprises!

We can't wait to see what inspires her next... thank you Deborah!  Click here to view all items created by Tessoro Jewelry.