You know that one piece in your wardrobe that you get compliments on every time you wear it? Maybe it is a great bag you found in a flea market in Paris. Maybe it is a dress that hits your waist just so and makes you look a little like Marilyn Monroe. Maybe it is the thrift store bracelet that you found on a treasure hunt 20 years ago. Whatever it is, you know you have one such item and you know you feel a little bit more confident every time you step out with it on.
My magical item is a necklace from Erica Gordon of Seattle’s own Steel Toe Studios. Gordon has been a blacksmith (which is the coolest job title ever) for over 15 years, since graduating from the University of New Mexico with a BFA and doing a work study program at the Penland School of Crafts. After spending years working in North Carolina and Austin, she settled in Seattle and never looked back.
In 2003 Gordon began designing and creating belt buckles. Her most recognizable buckles are those she makes from recycled bike gears, though she has many other styles to choose from. She makes her own dyed leather belts as well. A couple of years ago, she added a line of necklaces and earrings to the mix. I have one of her earliest beaded necklace designs and I am not exaggerating when I say that someone comments on it every single time I wear it. The line is continuing to evolve as Gordon finds inspiration in the world around her. She most recently added some simple sun-like baubles to her line after being inspired by our last batch of beautiful weather.
Recently, I toured Gordon’s Georgetown studio to see the artist in action. Walking in and seeing Gordon’s petite frame surrounded by turn of the century metal working machines created for large men is empowering in and of itself. As she works her way around the room from machine to machine she moves with the ease of a person just walking through their own living room.
Gordon loves working with metal because, “You can only make it do so much and push it so far. You have to respect the limits the metal places on you and your work. If you push it too far, it will break.”
You can purchase Gordon’s work online at Steel Toe Studios. Gordon also sells at Pike Place Market a few days a week, so if keep an eye out for her amazing work the next time you are downtown!