Artist Tanya Stiegler’s pieces are often inspired by objects, shapes, and themes found in nature. Photo by Will Crooks.

Translating ideas and aesthetics from nature, artist Tanya Stiegler handcrafts pieces of jewelry using a variety of materials. For her, jewelry tells stories, represents experiences, and celebrates friendships. She has over 24 years of experience in the jewelry industry.

“When I’m out in nature, when I’m outside, it’s just a sense of really feeling renewed and recharged for me,” Stiegler says. “I find that I like to bring elements of that home with me to remind me of that experience.”

Whether it’s grapevine tendrils, pebbles, or photographs from her nature walks, Stiegler always brings back something to inspire her jewelry. “Sometimes the things I bring home will wind up being a part of the finished piece, and sometimes they’re more thematic,” she says.

While the grapevine tendrils themselves make up the Tendrils collection of jewelry, the Fizz collection expresses the movement of water as it tumbles over rocks to create air bubbles.

Stiegler, who says she has created things her whole life, grew up playing with her great-grandmother’s Pop-It beads and rhinestone jewelry. She says her mother was a fashion designer who encouraged a creative household.

“Growing up, we were just always making things, whether it was Christmas tree ornaments or cross-stitch or learning to knit,” Stiegler says. “We were just always making.”

Jewelry did not become a career interest until Stiegler took a metalsmith class one summer during college. After interning and later working with a jeweler in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she says she was captivated with jewelry-making — the intricate designs and processes.

Good design in general inspires Stiegler most as an artist.

“Good design takes a lot of experience and understanding of materials and processes and techniques,” she says.

With jewelry being worn rather than hung on a wall as some art forms, the choices of materials, finishes, and processes must be very intentional.

“People have a tactile relationship with it, so you want it to be something that’s comfortable, that they want to wear, and also something that will hold up well,” Stiegler says.

Stiegler says she has always felt that human interaction was vital to her work; for the past two years, she has found much of that type of interaction at her Hampton Station studio, where she is surrounded by other creators.

“Being an artist, there’s that component where you really need to be able to focus on what you’re doing and get things done, and that is more solitary,” she says. “But, I also really need that connection to other people, which is a big part of why I wanted to be at Hampton Station.”

This is her third year participating in Open Studios, which provides further opportunities to connect with other working artists.

“Open Studios specifically provides that link that’s important to artists because it really encourages them to be visible as creators, as working artists,” Stiegler says. “It facilitates that communication between artists and the general public with seeing how things are made and understanding more about their creative process.”

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