Jennifer Walsh lives in Bozeman, Montana with her three daughters and the occasional bear wandering through her studio from the nearby woods. She fabricates contemporary jewelry using ancient techniques and materials. The process begins with a series of sketches frequently inspired by finding a material and musing as to whether or not it could be worn as a piece of jewelry.
Striving to use materials that a woman from prehistory might have been attracted to, the artist applies a variety of surface treatments and patinas that mimic decay, while elevating these “low” materials by constructing them with precious metals and stones. The forces of decay and decrepitude and human persistence in the face of these elements are a major influence in her work. It is for this reason that she rarely chooses the thing that’s new and shiny, preferring instead to use, for instance, a fossil, bit of bone, or a river stone that’s been worn smooth.
She applys a variety of surface treatments and patinas that mimic decay, and she feels that people are instinctively attracted to these pieces because in them we see a metaphor for the wear and tear of our daily modern lives: the thing that’s been worn smooth by centuries of friction between water and sand, yet emerged from this a burnished and more beautiful piece than when it started. Incorporating these elements into her jewelry – stones gathered from local rivers, hand-cut bones, shells, and bits of wood – imparts a sense of continuity and timelessness to the wearer.