About The Artist
Adrienne Gaskell loves living in the tropical climate of Miami, Florida, her mother’s birthplace. She feels that her journey into jewelry making started here, in the 1930s, when, her uncle, for whom she is named, first opened his import business that sold souvenirs and jewelry to Miami tourists. “Unfortunately, only remnants of his jewelry still exist, a few beads, some pieces of carved tortoiseshell and coral. Although my uncle was a casualty of WWII before I was born, I feel I have gotten to know him through reading his stories. He was a journalist as well as an entrepreneur so he left many photos, newspaper articles, and journals. He loved to travel, and it was while visiting the islands off the coast of Florida that he met native artists who made the jewelry for his store, The Thatched Hut (photo), in downtown Miami. That is my mother at 16, posing in a grass skirt to attract tourists. When I sell my jewelry at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, very close to where his shop would have been, I feel that I am carrying on the family business.”
After twenty years as a marketing sales executive, she has crafted a second career in jewelry fabrication and instruction. In a field that has become, fairly predictable, her unique combination of kumihimo braiding, bead weaving and metal fabrication techniques place her extraordinary pieces in a class of their own. “My work is not easily defined, I don’t feel I fit in with traditional metalsmiths nor should my pieces be classified as beadwork.” These unexpected combinations of technique and material seem to be of no problem to her devoted clientele who enjoy the attention they receive when wearing her jewelry.
Being raised in a family of engineers means that she is driven by the need for the process to be technically interesting. The engineering gene also influences her interest in finding new jewelry fabrication techniques. It is what first attracted her to kumihimo braiding, now one of the predominant techniques used in her work. “Kumihimo is an ancient Japanese textile technique which I have adapted to jewelry making. The challenge of working with such an interesting array of tools, from a needle and thread to a fiery torch, is what keeps the creation process interesting.” Adrienne attributes a love of, and background in textile arts for her exciting color combinations, one of the trademarks of her work. Her mother, who taught her needlework and how to make her own clothing, was fond of saying that Adrienne was born with a needle in her hand. “When I first discovered beadweaving I realized that all the years of working in needle arts were a great preparation for some of the techniques I use in my jewelry. So many skills from my past influence my work today.”