GRETCHEN SCHIELDS
Jewelry


Handcrafted Bohemian Tribal and Asian Jewelry

A childhood spent in faraway lands opened onto a world of stories within stories, an ever changing picture book of ethnic costume and decoration. It became the continuing influence in everything I create. I was born in Japan, named Sakura-San for the cherry blossoms in bloom, and as my ahmas whispered tales of fox spirits and samurai, I stared at the dancing patterns of their kimono, till the patterns became the stories that I heard.

I imagine now the geisha whose obi becomes a part of my textile jewelry, my Silk Road Collection. Love stories of her ukiyo-e, her floating world, lisp to me through the embroidery of cranes and curling waves as I construct my necklaces from her sash. Some of her lives again, her story told within the story of my Silk Road Jewelry Collection.

We sailed away on ships and came to another country


Five years old. I was playing next door at the Egyptian ambassador’s residence, roughhousing with the monkeys. I remember that hot African day, cicadas chittering. I gleefully patted the languid, spotted leopard, and she, interrupted in her dreams of the veldt, lunged at me. Her handler grabbed her chain just in time. That quick flash of brown and yellow spots – a moving pattern blazed in my mind, a pattern that could have changed everything. Gold and black spots with an arc of surprise, and a surprise again - the child was saved. And became an artist whose arcs of surprise became a signature element of her storied designs.


One day in a soggy Soho shower, trying to keep dry under the building’s overhang I saw a necklace in the gallery window. I wanted it but couldn’t afford it, and I decided I could make it myself. I began to play with beads. An artist must create or be an empty ghost and I found joy as I worked in my new medium. It became a business that has yet to lose its magic of creativity. I love what I do.

I need to have all my colors - beads, pearls, fabrics, ethnic and Asian artifacts – on hand and my studio is an overflowing pantry of jewelry supplies. I will fix on an Ethiopian cross and it tells me it requires pearls, gold toned biwah pearls, burgundy coin shaped ones, maybe both colors and I have these parts at my fingertips. I need to be in my studio surrounded by my palette of beads & findings to design.

I like to add unexpected twists to my necklaces - fringes, tassels and counterweights. My necklaces close with an original design of macrame button and loop, as signature elements. In my fabric necklaces, Silk Road, I am now adding to the to the classic loop and pendant. Experimenting with decorative knotting and asymmetrical geometric styles there will be some great additions coming soon. Arcs of Surprise

My necklaces have a complicated plot of elements. I began in simple strings, and as I learned my craft, my pieces became Olympian, Byzantine showpieces.


I construct my jewelry with multiple storylines of color, texture and patterns. Earrings reflect the flash of the wearer’s eyes, opening her ear to secrets. Wear the necklace over your heart – it adds it voice to yours, adornment with the power to enhance your own wonderful story.