Out with the old…in with the new!

 

 

While the typical person makes New Year’s resolutions and goals to start their year right, we as a family run company have decided it was time for change as well.  2018 will mark a new beginning for Squash Blossom’s website.  For over 44 years, Squash Blossom has been known for representing the finest in international and local jewelry designers, fine art, sculpture and amazing turquoise jewelry from the South West via their two brick and mortar locations in Vail and Colorado Springs.  Now, our goal is to create a website that delivers the same warmth and customer service of our Colorado based stores, along with the ease and convenience of shopping for amazing art and jewelry from anywhere you are.

 

 

In a day and age where everyone is online shopping, we wanted our website to stand out in a sea of impersonal shopping to bring you an online experience closer to working directly with our friendly and well-trained staff in one of our actual locations. With this update to our website, we are also striving to bring new features to make your experience much more personal.  As a company that prides itself on educating customers to the process and people behind the beautiful creations we carry, be on the lookout for designer/artists bios to help you get to know the creators behind the unique pieces you are interested in adding to your collection.

Having trouble picking the perfect gift for someone else? The new website will also feature an option for the person you are hoping to gift to in creating a wish list of items they would love.  Once you know they have their list together via our website, you, the purchaser, can contact the store directly and we can help you select exactly the perfect gift they have been wishing for right over the phone!

 

 

If you are not already receiving our store’s email newsletter, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to join in! As we draw closer to the launch of our new site we will be letting all our loyal customers know via our newsletter how much we appreciate them with special discounts codes exclusive to the launch of our new website. So stay tuned and sign up for our newsletters today, here.

Give the Gift of Creation with Earth Below Sky

The Squash Blossom’s very own designer and master jeweler, Elisabeth Soscia can help you give the gift of a one-of-a-kind creation.  Elisabeth designs her own jewelry line featured here at the Squash Blossom, Earth Below Sky Creations. Additionally, she does jewelry repair and restoration for customers of the gallery. Have a favorite piece you’re thinking of bringing new life to? Ask Elisabeth for her expertise.  Custom design is a large part of Earth Below Sky, so if you are interested in creating a custom piece or are given a family heirloom this Christmas that just doesn’t fit, Elisabeth can help.

“Most customers who come to me for custom design are searching for a unique bridal set or they have been gifted or inherited a piece that just isn’t their style, so the jewelry just ends up sitting unworn in their jewelry box. I first set up an appointment to sit down with a client one-on-one to look over pieces to see if stones are in good, usable condition and can safely be removed from existing settings.  We talk about what kind of jewelry they love and wear the most.  If they have no idea, I usually ask them to create a Pinterest board of things they have seen that appeal to them so they can share this with me for inspiration. Then from these ideas, I generate a few different possibilities of options I might have for new designs of their piece,” Elisabeth says.

Her love of jewelry design began back in high school, but she has been interested in design her whole life. She says, “From a very young age I was always interested in crafting and weaving, anything I could do with my hands.  During high school, a jewelry design and fabrication class was offered through the art department.  I took my first class my freshman year and instantly became hooked, so I found a way to continue taking the class the rest of high school as an independent study. During this class we took a tour of the Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design department at the School for American Craftsman based out of Rochester Institute of Technology. I knew immediately I wanted to keep going with jewelry and see where it would take me.”

Jewelry has taken her a long way. Elisabeth has worked with two prolific designers: Todd Reed and Barbara Heinrich.  Her own jewelry company first began in 2001, but it was very part time while she worked for other artists and raised her family.  Now with a thriving company, she finds happiness in working one-on-one with a customer to create the piece of their dreams.  “I really love working with clients to create a unique piece created especially for them.  It is an almost magical feeling being able to make a person’s wishes come true.  I find it adds a very personal element for clients to be able to tell their family and friends their new creation was custom designed and hand fabricated especially for them! Something you cannot say very often in today’s disposable culture,” she says.

Her company name, Earth Below Sky Creations, shares her initials and is a metaphor for the creative process.  The name came to her on her way to her first gem show in Tucson, Arizona.  She envisions the sky being full of ideas for artists and designers and it is the creator’s job to bring these ideas to fruition here on earth.  If you have an idea for the perfect piece of jewelry, let Elisabeth help you bring it to life. You can usually find her in the gallery Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10-2:30.  Additional times available by appointment.

Gift Giving Guide for Every Budget

With Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s just around the corner, stop in to The Squash Blossom for your holiday shopping!  From stocking-stuffers to the crown jewel under the tree, we have gifts for every budget and person on your list!  Follow our guide below for gift ideas that suit your budget!

Women’s Gift Ideas

Under $300

Sterling Silver Crown Ring – Earth Below Sky Creations, $160

Labradorite Necklace- KJ Designs, $294

$300-$500

Chain Bracelet- Indiri, $325

Opal Earrings- Nina Nguyen, $495

$500-$1000

Kingman’s Turquoise Cuff, $950

Carnelian and Citrine Necklace – Vasant, $600

$1000-$3000

Four Chain Necklace with Diamonds – Kurtalan, $2500

Rutilated Quartz and Oxidized Sterling Silver Bracelet – Ayesha, $1700

 

$3000-$5000

Opal with Stripes 24K Gold Earrings – ARA, $4350

18K Gold Multi Stone Ring – Todd Reed, $4400

Over $5000

Blue Moonstone and Opal 24K Gold Necklace – Gurhan, $6250

14K Gold and Onyx Squash Blossom, $8500

 

Men’s Gift Ideas

Under $300

The Lighthouse Birdhouse – Bud Smoot, $225

$300-$500

Elm Burl with Ebony Globe – Pete Nichol, $450

$500-$1000

Moose Haven Doorknocker – Mike Dwyer, $795

$1000-$3000

A Touch of Chrome Watercolor – Thomas Owen, $2405

$3000-$5000

English Pointer 3/30 Bronze – Daniel Glanz, $3600

 

 

 

Final First Friday of 2017: December ArtWalk

As the year comes to a close, we have just one more First Friday ArtWalk before the New Year!  We are proud to feature two local artists during our December ArtWalk: painter Laurel Bahe and woodworker Keoni.  Additionally, we are excited to welcome our new jewelry line, Indiri.

An ArtWalk veteran, Laurel Bahe is a retired accountant and self-described “Owloholic.”  The first step of her paintings is to stalk the owls that live in Monument Valley Creek.  She likes to ride her bike and take photographs of owls, though she confesses the owls she paints often bear little resemblance to the owls in photographs.  This freedom is part of her creative process. She says her paintings are, “bright, whimsical, wacky, and wild.”  Her paintings are in graffiti style, using stencils, stamps, and spray paint to achieve her signature look.  She paints owls in various sizes.  The ones of the 5×7 variety, she is so skilled at creating, that she can even paint them from the passenger seat of a car on a cross-country road trip!

We are thrilled to host woodworker Keoni in his first of our ArtWalks.  He will be doing a demonstration of his wood burning.  His wood pieces are re-imagined as woven and beaded basketry.  Inspired by Native American legends and mythology, he strives to use storytelling imagery.  Each of his pieces are decorated on both the front and back, creating a spectacular piece on both sides.   His tools are a lathe, fire, and ink.  He begins his process with a sketch and then spins a block of maple wood on a lathe.  Next, he uses concentric rings and lines to create his design, which is then hand carved and inked.  Each individual piece can have over 40,000+ individual cuts and color cells!

The Indiri Collection features handcrafted sterling silver from the island of Bali. The artisans who make these pieces learn the ancient techniques that have been passed down through generations.  Each piece is Fair Trade and supports independent artisans.

After our December ArtWalk, there will not be another ArtWalk until April, so you will not want to miss this amazing last ArtWalk of the season!  Get some of your Christmas shopping done, interact with local artists, and enjoy free refreshments.  We hope to see you in Old Colorado City on Friday, December 1 from 5-8 PM.

 

The Storywheel of Your Life

Storywheels are an elegant, creative way to mark milestones in your life.  The Squash Blossom has customers with over fifty Storywheels. The Storywheels company has spanned four generations.  Their mission is to celebrate life and inspire their customers.  With offices in New York City, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, the company strives to drive the jewelry industry.  All gemstones are sourced directly from mines and cut within the company.

The birth of a child or grandchild is a monumental occasion in one’s life.  Storywheels understands this and offers birth wheels, some of our best-selling wheels. Longtime customer, Susan Thomas said, “I have a large collection of Storywheels.  All are beautiful, but the ones with the most meaning to me are the birthwheels.”  She has a wheel with garnet, the January birthstone, to remember the birth of her daughter and a citrine wheel, the November birthstone, to commemorate the birth of her son.  She also has a growing list of grandchildren and adds a wheel for each one.  “I started with a blue topaz wheel for my first granddaughter. Now I also have an emerald wheel for my grandson and an aquamarine wheel for my second granddaughter.  I am expecting another grandchild this year and I can’t wait to add another birth wheel.  I love looking down and seeing the symbols of all my family,” she said.

Aside from births, there are plenty of other events that you can commemorate with Storywheels.  Sara Jones used to live in Texas so she purchased a dangle with the state of Texas.  Eleanor Danielles, completed a sailing trip around the Caribbean and got an anchor dangle to remember that event.  Beloved pets are also celebrated through the Storywheels. Sally Prunty expressed, “My family is not complete without our cat.  We adopted her as a rescue kitten and I bought a cat dangle to celebrate her induction into our family.”  Anniversaries are also a favorite amongst our customers. Kim Cruz has wheels in honor of her marriage, one-year anniversary, and five-year anniversary. “This year, my husband and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary and I asked him to get me the tenth anniversary Storywheel to celebrate.”

    Storywheels make the perfect gift for birthdays or holidays for avid collectors.  There are wheels of sports, animals, celestial themes, holidays, and hobbies. Jan Robertson stated, “I always get so excited when I see a Squash Blossom box on special occasions.  I know that it is another wonderful addition to my growing collection.”  Her husband Bill added, “It is great knowing that I can always count on Storywheels to be a valued, appropriate gift.  Her face always lights up when she receives a new wheel.”  It’s not too late to start a Storywheel collection.  Consider giving a loved one her first Storywheel and begin the exciting journey of celebrating a life.

Gorgeous in Glass: Celebrating Pumpkin Season

The days are getting cooler, the nights are getting longer, and the school year is in full force.  That can only mean one thing: it’s pumpkin season!   Make your pumpkin decoration stand out amongst the sea of plastic jack-o-lanterns and opt for a blown glass pumpkin.  The Squash Blossom is proud to offer designs by two talented artists: Jack Pine and Corey Silverman.

Jack Pine was born and raised in Circleville, Ohio.  Though the town is tiny, it is home to the country’s largest annual pumpkin show.  After years of studying the pumpkins at this show, he became inspired to perfect the art of glass pumpkins.  He studied glass blowing at the Columbus College of Art and Design and practiced his craft in Denver and Seattle.  Now, he has his own studio back in his home state of Ohio after over twenty years of experience. His pumpkins are known for their ornate stems and attention to color the whole way through the pumpkin.

The Furnace: a Glassworks is a studio in Lakewood, Colorado, just ten miles from downtown Denver.  The Furnace is home to Corey Silverman, who learned glassworks while earning a BFA at Alfred University.  The pumpkins by this company come in small, medium, and large sizes.  They also feature a titled design in the pumpkins and gourds.

The glass comes in many forms and colors.  From the traditional orange to a more whimsical blue, there is a pumpkin for all décor tastes.  The color is not painted, but rather applied hot from chips of colored glass. Expert skill is required, as the true colors are not visible until the glass has cooled.  For example, a white color will become completely transparent when it cools. Some pumpkins are sold individually, while others are offered as part of a set.  There are two types of pumpkin sets: mini and large. The mini sets come with one large pumpkin and two smaller ones, whilst the large pumpkin sets feature a large pumpkin, a medium, a small, and a gourd.  While pumpkins reach the height of their decorative and culinary popularity in September through November, these glass pumpkins make a classy and tasteful addition to home decorations all year long.  When the nostalgia for childhood pumpkin patches and jack-o-lantern carving hits, come select a blown glass pumpkin at the Squash Blossom.

November ArtWalk: Featuring Phil Lear and Mick Shimonek

Head down to Old Colorado City on November 3 from 5-8 PM to watch two of our newest painters in action.  The Squash Blossom is happy to welcome local artist Phil Lear and Nebraskan Mick Shimonek.

Phil Lear’s paintings are inspired by poetry. He says, “There is poetry in everything and the painter – like the poet, or musician, or sculptor – must bring it to attention, because he sees what others oftentimes do not.” His paintings are said to have a dream-like quality as he strives to portray his insight into the world around him. The style and brushstroke harmonize with his characters.

Phil was born in Ontario, Canada and cultivated his love of art at an early age, sketching, writing, and illustrating comic books.  His family moved to the United States in 1990, where he continued to grow his craft in high school art classes.  In 1993, he enrolled in Pensacola Christian College’s Commercial Art Program.  During this time, he discovered his love for Renaissance and Late Victorian era paintings and decided to pursue a career in art himself.  After creating artwork for missionaries in Switzerland, he returned to the States.  He is a member of the Portrait Society of America and furthers his studies at the Cottonwood Artists’ School.

Mick Shimonek is known for his distinctive style of large brushstrokes that blend into landscapes. His eye for design and color mesh with his imagination and unique view of the world.  His paintings feature mountains, rivers, lakes, and other natural wonders.  Mick studied at the University of Nebraska, Colorado Institute of Art, and Rocky Mountain School of Art.

Discover Alex Sepkus

“When I design a piece of jewelry, it is as if I am writing a book.”

Featured jewelry designer Alex Sepkus draws his inspiration from unexpected places. He cited his greatest sources of inspiration not as other jewelry, but as music and great literary works. “When I design a piece of jewelry, it is as if I am writing a book,” he said in an interview,  “Each design is a chapter, not in words, but in shapes and textures.”

Alex Sepkus little windows earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus little windows earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.

Born in Lithuania, Sepkus studied industrial design with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps as an architect.  In his spare time he would carve miniature sculptures.  Under communism, he did not have access to precious materials.  Instead, he created his pieces with engraved stones, carved ivory and enamel painting.  This was the foundation of his unique artistic style, which would develop more and more as he started to create pieces of jewelry.

Sepkus immigrated to the United States in 1988. By the early 1990’s, he had opened Alex Sepkus Jewelry Studios in Manhattan with gemologist Jeff Feero.  Together they found, and continue to find, unusual and exceptional stone specimens to accompany the intricate designs that have become the signature of Alex Sepkus Jewelry.

Alex Sepkus Boulder Opal earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus Boulder Opal earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.

This signature, however, comes at a cost; Sepkus’s jewelry is a product of great effort.  “I have no technical secrets,” he said.  “The main trick is the very intricate manual work that goes into the process.  I can explain the process to everybody.  But at the same time, I don’t think that I have ever seen a copy of my work somewhere.  It is just so labor intensive.”

An owner of a Sepkus piece can see and feel the intense hand-crafted process by which the piece was made.  Each piece has unique magnificence that highlights creativity and ingenuity–a piece that is a product of hard work and, not to mention, is fashionable.  What’s more surprising is that his designs are not premeditated, giving them a raw edge.

Alex Sepkus diamond eternity band, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus diamond eternity band, available at the Squash Blossom.

“I stopped making sketches years ago,” Sepkus said.  “I imagine the piece I want to make in my head, and the hands work by themselves.  Sometimes I get surprised at what comes out.”

Interested in owning a unique piece of Alex Sepkus jewelry yourself?  Stop into the Squash Blossom in Vail or check out our website to see a diverse collection of Sepkus’s work.

Raw Beauty: Jewelry by Todd Reed

A true pioneer in the jewelry industry, Todd Reed’s collections have re-defined luxury jewelry.  A lifelong artisan, Todd first dabbled in clothing, furniture, leatherwork, sculpture, painting, and even the culinary arts. Eventually, his path fortuitously crossed with a well-known diamond collector.  When speaking with a newspaper, he said, “He completely took me under his wing.  His love for diamonds was infectious, and he showed me the artistry and miniature sculpture that appeared in the rough stones.  I was riveted and wanted to know and see more.  I realized that my aesthetic was to create jewelry that would push the boundaries of what precious pieces could be, and to merge the freedom of artistic expression with the allure of fine jewelry.”

Todd Reed specializes in the use of raw diamonds and environmentally sustainable material.  Raw diamonds are the fastest growing industry within jewelry, largely because of the work done by Todd.  As he started drawing critical acclaim, he challenged the idea of what we consider precious.  He wants each of his pieces to have character.  When talking to a newspaper in Houston, he said, “When something is so glossy and perfect it doesn’t even exist. The cracks and fissures are what gives us character.”  Like in life, the raw diamonds have character and celebrate the perceived “flaws” of diamonds in their natural state.

If you love supporting Colorado designers, Todd Reed is as local as they come.  His studio space is located in Boulder, Colorado and he went to high school in Colorado Springs.  Whether you are looking for alternative wedding bands, a perfect piece to stand out in your jewelry collection, or a head start on a holiday gift for a special someone, the Squash Blossom has the perfect Todd Reed piece for you.

Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

          Mike Dwyer  lives in Loveland, Colorado.  He expressed an interest in wildlife from a young age and began carving songbirds and waterfowl out of wood in the fall of 1985.  As his style matured, his medium changed to bronze and his subject matter expanded. With a lifelong passion for observing wildlife in their natural surroundings, he also took an academic approach to his work. He has done field studies in threatened and endangered wildlife and earned a Master of Science in Orthinology, the study of birds.  He gets his inspiration from the outdoors and said, “I give God the glory for the gifts  and talents He has blessed me with.”

His bronze doorknockers are some of his most popular works and came about at the suggestion of a friend.  Since, then he has created fifteen other doorknocker designs of birds and animals.  From rustic cabins to suburban residences, the doorknockers make great accents for any house.  “Many of my clients homes are typical residential homes that have the perfect location on the door or next to the door on the trim board for their favorite bronze door knocker.  They are looking for very unique and functional bronze door knockers to accent the front entry of their homes,” Mike said.

            One of his most ambitious projects has been Pika’s in the Park, an interactive sculpture event in Estes Park.  The project began when the Estes Park Town Administrator and his wife, Frank and Jill Lancaster approached his booth at the Vail Fine Arts Festival.  Mike explains, “My trio of bronze Chipmunks caught their eyes, and he shared the idea of incorporating bronze Pika’s into a permanent interactive scavenger hunt in downtown Estes Park.  The Town of Estes Park then commissioned me to sculpt the 12 Pika’s, which then became Pika’s in the Park.” He has hidden bronze pikas around the town and guests can follow the clues to find all of the pikas.  The Squash Blossom also has three pikas hidden within our gallery walls.  Come stop by the gallery today and begin your search for Moomaw, Addie, and Muriel.  Clue: These pikas enjoy a sweet view.