Influencers in Jewellery Design: Sandy Baker

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Manhattan jewellery designer and entrepreneur Sandy Baker is the proprietor and artistic drive behind Sandy Baker Artwork Assortment. She claims she has been within the enterprise for about four,000 years, however it’s most likely nearer to 4 a long time. Nevertheless, she has amassed such an enormous quantity of labor, experiences, clients, and information concerning the business in that point that it could appear to be for much longer than simply 4 a long time.

Her story is so totally different from all the opposite Influencer articles I’ve written. Sandy has damaged numerous obstacles, from getting into the jewellery world from a unique path than everybody else within the early ‘70s, to being one in every of a handful of ladies designers in jewellery at the moment, to being the primary African-American feminine to go her personal jewellery firm. And she or he has carried out all of it with flash, finesse, panache, charisma and a uniquely Sandy-Baker model.

sandy7Sandy’s story started as she was destroying an oak desk in her bed room in Brooklyn. She had been educating herself easy methods to make jewellery on the desk, and it’s what prompted her to hunt extra skilled and secure environment on the former West Aspect YMCA on 53rd and seventh. She began taking lessons there as a substitute of constructing jewellery in her bed room. She raised a silver bowl that she nonetheless has, in addition to some silverware. “It taught me that I didn’t need to be a jeweler by elevating items,” she says. “The banging was arduous on my ears and arms.” It additionally taught her how metallic moved. She seemed round and began taking lessons wherever she may.

The lessons on the YMCA helped Sandy determine to pursue a Bachelor of Wonderful Arts diploma at Hunter School, the place she had the life-altering alternative to have Doris Kennedy as her instructor/adviser for 3 of her 4 years on the school. After Hunter, she explored a wide range of design venues. She discovered that she needed to put on jewellery that mirrored who she was. She couldn’t discover it, and so she started critically making her personal.

“I labored in a boutique in Harlem whereas going to high school,” she says. “In the future an African gents got here in who offered African artifacts. It was lengthy earlier than all of the distributors you see now on the streets. He was going to do a commerce present on the NY Reward Present and was searching for somebody to work with him, however he couldn’t afford to pay them. I didn’t know what a commerce present was, so I requested if I may present a few of my jewellery (which I used to be promoting within the boutique) and assist him in his sales space. He agreed. I don’t know what number of African-American distributors have been on the exhibits in 1972. I didn’t even know what a commerce present was. I felt it could be an fascinating expertise and permit me to current my work to a bigger viewers. At the moment the present was held on the NY Coliseum, now the Time Warner Middle.  Overflow was at a Sheraton Middle lodge. After set-up, this dealer and I have been the one two folks of coloration working the ground. I found a complete new world. Multi-cultural folks from all around the world have been there, simply no black folks apart from the 2 of us. That’s how I obtained my first purchasers. I wrote orders on the present! I began out on the Reward Present after which the Boutique present, not at Rhinebeck the place just about everybody else began.”

A collection of early pieces by Sandy Baker

A group of early items by Sandy Baker

In 1977 Sandy utilized to the Jewelers of America present and was interviewed by Mort Abelson, who was pulling collectively jewelers for the primary Designer Part at a JA commerce present. Most of them have been from the Rhinebeck Craft Present. Sandy was the exception. She instructed Mort she had solely carried out commerce exhibits, and he instructed her she must have extra gold as high-quality jewellery shops shopped this present. She agreed and was accepted. It perpetually modified her imaginative and prescient of what the jewellery world was about.

The Designer Part the primary yr was on the finish of a corridor on a balcony overlooking a fundamental promoting corridor. The one individuals who discovered it have been searching for the snack bar on the far finish of the slim exhibition area. The subsequent yr they invited extra designers and moved them to the fundamental ballroom. It was the start of a motion. However although they have been now an actual a part of the present, there was nonetheless some prejudice in opposition to designers. Many retailers had not seen work like theirs earlier than. It was not conventional.

Hammered gold earrings by Sandy Baker

Hammered gold earrings by Sandy Baker

“At that time I used to be working principally with hammered sheet gold and silver,” says Sandy. This was my first contribution to the jewellery world. The hammered metallic caught the sunshine in a different way than different items. I actually preferred the feel. Nothing was ever flat. At first it was referred to as primitive. After I began doing it in gold, that was when folks actually observed it. Then producers in Windfall began making software and dies making an attempt to repeat the feel. It was changing into in style.” She tried casting a few of her designs however didn’t like the load. They have been too heavy.

Since then Sandy’s clients have included Saks, Bloomingdales, I. Magnins, Fortunoff, Gimbels, B Altman, Abraham & Straus, and a number high-quality jewellery shops nationwide. At present, she nonetheless makes her personal jewellery, which is offered in high-quality artwork galleries and museum present outlets across the nation.

Sandy credit a few of her success to being what she calls the queen of correct quantity.

“Most of the items I create have their very own momentum, like fancily mobiles,” she says. “The breezy areas between and across the precise metallic is as essential to the general design as the weather themselves. I feel by way of line, form and type. If there’s a curve, I need to spotlight the way in which the sunshine hits the bend. Dangling shapes, area and colours and textures all work collectively, like a design ballet.”


She additionally shortly discovered that she wanted to rent individuals who may assist her replicate her designs whereas staying true to the concept of a handcrafted piece. Typically the folks she turned to weren’t conventional jewelers.

“I employed folks so we may replicate items,” she says. “I had ability checks for locating individuals who I needed to work for me. Crucial issues have been that they may comply with directions and precisely learn a ruler. This was vital. My first two workers labored with me in Brooklyn and have been with me for a really very long time. They preferred the liberty, particularly after I obtained the outcomes I needed. I taught them to make jewellery from scratch. I purposely employed individuals who didn’t have jewellery backgrounds and taught them. My handcrafted jewellery actually is hand made.”

An advertisement featuring Sandy's jewelry from the 1980s.

A classic commercial that includes Sandy’s jewellery from the 1980s.

She was additionally a pioneer in earrings designed for a number of pierced ears, which turned a long-term development that’s nonetheless lively. In 1972 she determined she wanted a second ear gap for a chunk she was making, tiny gold earrings with two posts. And she or he launched the sculptural idea of designing earrings for the back and front of the ear. She created a stationary entrance and a cellular again.

“My inspiration has all the time come from the fantastic world round me,” she says. “Taking note of the jewellery out there’s important. The power of bijou going ahead might be good design. That is the important thing to survival.”

When Sandy is designing she retains in thoughts always the ladies for whom she is designing. She doesn’t need the jewellery to overpower the wearer. She designs with a cameo focus—what does her jewellery appear to be on the higher physique, neck and head? Jewellery needs to be a complementary accent.

A pair of earrings in Sandy's current collection

A pair of earrings in Sandy’s present assortment

In her artist’s assertion she says: “The design of every piece is approached as a piece of sculptural artwork luxuriating in the usage of three-dimensional area. The outcomes are fluid swish and timeless. When designing earrings I preserve the contours of the face in thoughts: what I prefer to consult with because the ‘cameo focus’ as a result of the face is probably the most observed and appreciated a part of a lady’s total magnificence.”

Sandy has witnessed so many modifications within the jewellery design world and has been the catalyst for a lot of of them. What a unprecedented legacy from a unprecedented woman!

Wish to hear extra inspirational tales from about jewellery designers? Learn all the articles in our collection on Influencers in Jewellery Design.


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