May '09

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Once upon a time,
a good friend gave me a set of wine charms, and knowing I could improve upon them, I started creating little stories with color combinations and themed charms.

Jewelry, as a medium, was non-threatening. Drawing, and photography were my favorites in school.   Everything else took too long. Ironic I should now be working with gemstones, so tiny they're measured in millimeters!

From my first gem show, I was excited by the infinite possibilities of color and textural combining. My materials hang in front of me, in plain sight. Sometimes I wake up with an idea, sometimes I find strands of color lying next to each other and they "speak" to me. It is a very organic process. I get lost in it. If I'm short on ideas, I bite off little pieces, and make earrings. The ideas always come. I'm fortunate that way.

I guess you could say animation has had an influence on my life and in my work.

Eyvind Earle's color surprise and background styling in "Sleeping Beauty" so captivated me as a child, that I decided I wanted to work at Disney before I was ten.

A storyteller at heart, I often add a theme or "wink" to my pieces. Some shout, some whisper, all have a voice of their own. Graphic design & visual communications taught me to "shorthand" my sensibilities. My animation background shows up in a playfulness, a wry humor, an unpredictability.

My favorite stage of the animation process has always been the conceptual phase, where the extremes of shape and color are first explored. I've been fortunate to grow up with great storytellers: John Lasseter, John Musker, Bill & Sue Kroyer.   Lyrical animators: Glen Keane, Chris Buck (Shelley's husband) , and Eric Goldberg. The color styling of Mike Giaimo and the sublime good taste of Mike Gabriel, continue to influence me. The joyful humor of Joe Ranft, or the wry wit of Kevin Lima, have kept me attuned to sight gags, whether slap-stick or subtle chuckle, in my own medium. It's been like growing up in a museum... you can't help but absorb its richness.

Nature's beauty has always captivated me, from the intricate patterns in the veins of a leaf, to the humorous color combinations in birds, fish and insects. There is a sublime wit in Nature's work that I hope is showcased in my own. I try not to look at magazines. Not only does it distract me from the purity of my vision, it can be frustrating when I see a style or idea I produced years before make it through marketing before I do. I'm working on those in-roads now. Soon, you will see it as soon as I conceive it.

Business: that is my biggest challenge! As an artist, I just want to play with the pretty colors. Numbers, record keeping, organization, are all on the other side of my brain... and it gets dusty in there. It is very much a full time occupation, as with any passion, it feeds on its own energy.

ShelRae Custom Jewelry is available at Dolphin Galleries in Wialea, Maui, at Contessa Italian Home Collections in Pasadena, and through Prince Jewelers, Arcadia. My web site ( is a working portfolio, updated frequently, and soon to have a shopping cart under "ShelRae Shelf". I can be contacted through the site for direct sales.

With customized pieces, I strive to express your sense of style, though I will never duplicate another designer's piece. If you find an idea, we can work together to personalize it. Many clients e-mail photos, or bring over outfits for specific events.

I also enjoy breathing new life into sentimental favorites that just need a fresh eye/angle - "green" jewelry!

From a rock star sporting custom designs on a new album cover to an Inaugural Ball to the glam of the Red Carpet, my designs are as varied as the individuals who are drawn to them. Personally, I lean towards the rustic, edgy, primitive. Asymmetry excites me, but not everyone is born that way, so I stretch beyond my own personal style, while still applying my aesthetic taste and values. I am easily bored, so I change things up often... some days working with Tahitian pearls and diamonds, others with lava or blown glass.

My clients have a sense of humor. I make jewelry for the discerning eye, the artistic spirit, the clever mind.

Much of what I do is based on stringing... with endless possibilities... however, I am also working with a fine jeweler with 25 years' experience in setting stones... leaving me to my colored pencils for designing. I have a studio and showroom at my home... taking over the boys' pool table for occasional open houses.

Chris is dragged in for an "atta girl" whenever I am particularly pleased with a piece... or sometimes, when I just need a fresh eye, but he doesn't apply his unique skew on the world to this medium very often. I think it baffles him a bit.

Prices are determined by cost of materials plus labor. Simple assembly is accomplished by my staff. Design and quality control are my department. From there, I use the industry standard formulas for wholesale and retail pricing.


Photos used in this article are the property of Shelley Buck.

Check out much more of Shelley's jewelery at her site. And why not buy some for Mother's Day!

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© 2009 Moore Studios