When I Was Young
In high school I wanted to be just like my siblings, my brother was amazing at drawing and graphic arts, my sister was amazing at painting and photography. I constantly struggled to draw and take photos and paint but never excelled. What I didn’t realize until I got the chance to stick my fingers in clay, solder metal, and really use my hands was that I had been doing the wrong stuff the whole time.
After discovering Mokume Gane (an ancient Japanese metalworking technique) after high school, and after spending lots of time and money on bead and wire jewelry making, I took the plunge and moved from my comfortable home in Minnesota to Detroit, Michigan to pursue metalsmithing. There I earned my BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design from the College for Creative Studies, a fantastic school with a large, well rounded Fine Crafts program. In my time at CCS I learned Mokume while discovering a passion for blacksmithing in general. I also discovered a love of weaving which has become a relaxing haven for me as an adult.
Fine Jewelry & My New Path
When I graduated I felt pulled to move home again to Minnesota and found an apprentice job with Knox Jewelers. Through them, I learned all kinds of stone setting, hand engraving, and handmade filigree. They were a small family company that excelled in high quality fine jewelry, something I quickly learned was not where I wanted to end up. After learning a great deal about the jewelry industry and building an impressive repertoire of jewelry making skills, I decided I wanted to start my own business. The slow climb to designing new work and saving up began.
West Grove Design was hatched in my parents’ garage, where my meager home workshop resided. Knowing that names could change, I wanted the name of my company to carry on my family’s name, so I translated it from Swedish and came up with West Grove. At the time I was also spending a lot of time driving back and forth from my sister’s place in Wisconsin where my first map design came to me. There is a particular valley on the way to my sister’s that I always love driving through, I get goosebumps every time the hills roll open in front of me. I wanted to capture that feeling, and loving topographic maps, that’s where I looked first.
Other designs occurred to me as I looked around my home state. I spent more and more time outside, exploring places I had never been and feeling increasingly at home in the outdoors. Seeing the lake-loving culture of Minnesota I designed the Chain-Of-Lakes Earrings based on the beloved lakes of Minneapolis. I wanted to preserve and commemorate the love people have of places.
My eyes were opened to national parks when I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. I saw firsthand the beauty and overwhelming possibility our planet has to offer, and I also saw our abuse and neglect of that potential. I wanted to help keep those places as wild and pristine as I could. So I decided: I wanted to build a business that preserves, supports and commemorates the memories, connections, and love we, as humans, have for our natural spaces while supporting the actual places themselves.
I found home in the outdoors. When I felt most uprooted and isolated, nature anchored me and reminded me of all of the important things in life. I want to share this feeling, I want people to look at my pieces and be reminded of special times and special places in their lives, memories they cherish that they can wear. My work is all about celebrating your adventures and preserving the places that make them possible. That’s why, when you buy a piece from me at West Grove Design a percentage of profits will go back to parks and wildlife reserves to keep them as pristine as we can.