Moose Spotlight: Unique and Minimalist Handmade Jewelry

"The human desire to create is a unique one. Art reflects our collective existence throughout time and our worlds reflect that art. My hope is for people to see how central creativity is to all of our lives."

- Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver







Jewelry Artist Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver on Instagram



@whitebark.silver on Instagram




Meet Colleen Winn, a jewelry artist based in Bend, Oregon. She has been making jewelry for a 7 months now. You can find Colleen's creation on Instagram with the handle @whitebark.silver






"I’ve always had artistic tendencies—I studied photography and writing in college. I also spend part of the year as a commercial salmon fisherwoman, and have thus developed a love for hands-on work and the mastering of tools to fix parts or create something new." For Colleen, metalsmithing is a perfect combination of her artistic abilities and her love of physical, hands-on work.



Curious as to what was Colleen's journey like in the beginning, she shared, "First of all, I’d have to say that I’m still starting out! And each bit of progress is incredibly rewarding. I’m still in the process of figuring out what my design style is and what really speaks to me the most as an artist."



Staying true to her own artistic vision rather than creating things she thinks people might want to see has proved to be one of the most helpful and confidence-inspiring things during this “starting-out” process, explained Colleen. She added that learning how to properly solder was a big one too.



The very first piece she sold - Colleen said it was actually through an Instagram story via her personal account, before she even created Whitebark Silver. A dear friend of Colleen who she has known since she was four years old bought her first piece, which felt very fitting to her. How special, isn't it? 



Regarding Colleen's brand name, Whitebark Silver, we asked if there was a story behind it. Colleen said, "My mom works for the Forest Service in western Oregon. The center she manages is focused around breeding native plants and trees to be more resistant against parasites and disease. The whitebark pine—Grand, impressive, and essential to the ecosystem—is one of their main rehabilitation focuses. Whitebark Silver is named in honor of her and in honor of one of the coolest trees in the Pacific Northwest."



Metalsmith Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver on Instagram




Let's check out Colleen's beautiful work!





Turquoise Ring by Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver on Instagram



Handmade Turquoise Rings by Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver on Instagram








"I think my first AHA moment actually came when I set a piece of turquoise into a ring for the first time." Previously, Colleen had only been using cheap, synthetic stones while she was learning because she didn’t want to waste nice stones on her early work. "When I set the turquoise, the piece looked better than I ever excepted it could, and I realized that the work I was putting in was starting to pay off."



Here are a few more creations by Colleen!



Handmade Ring by Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver on Instagram




Genuine Turquoise Ring by Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver on Instagram



Handmade Rings by Colleen Winn of @whitebark.silver on Instagram


"Honestly, it’s completely scattered and almost always changes during the making process. That’s just how my brain works when my creativity is flowing." Colleen likes being able to channel her inner chaos into a beautiful finished product.

About Colleen's design style, she said, "I prefer a minimalistic style. If I’m creating a piece with a stone, I picture it first with just a simple bezel, and from there I ask myself “ok, would this piece benefit from the addition of a border? Fringe? Texturing? Etc.” sometimes I’ll end up adding complexity, but I often prefer to create pieces with simple designs that really honor and highlight the stones."


What's one design tip you one to share with your fellow artists?

"I like to start off small with my designs and slowly add elements as I go so that I don’t overwhelm myself. And I’d say it helps to draw inspiration from special things/places in your life, rather than exclusively drawing inspiration from other jewelry."

One piece of technical advice on creating.

"One general piece of technical advice I would give is to move slowly and put enough time into each step to ensure it’s done properly. When I get frustrated and impatient is when I mess up. It’s easier to slow down than it is to go back and fix mistakes. Metalsmithing takes patience, and I’m still figuring this out each day!"

Any words of encouragement or tips to those who are starting out in the world of jewelry-making?

"Try your best to not compare your work to other artists work! And turn off Instagram occasionally. Allow yourself to create art that you love and allow yourself to mess up along the way!"

Lastly, here's Colleen's message to the universe: 

Colleen Winn Blog Feature by Turquoise Moose
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