Jewelry artist Ursula Guderian’s eclectic collections, made from found objects, exotic beads and pounded metals, look and feel like they belong in another era. Part industrial age, part roaring 20s and part romantic Victorian, her pieces are made with love and detailed attention in her Igo studio.
Urs, you probably have the world’s most guarded studio. Before we talk art, tell me about your pack of babies.
It’s funny you should say that. I do have a well protected studio. That’s 16 legs and a ton of fur. I am fortunate to say that I have four beautiful wolf hybrids in my life. Owning a wolf hybrid is no easy task. They differ from a regular dog in that they need constant interaction and total commitment. I am able to provide that attention and commitment because I work out of my home. They are extremely intelligent, curious and a ton of fun! We hired Ian Fraser of North State Professional Dog Training to come out once a week when they were little and work with them. The training is important, because when you have 500-plus pounds of fur, you had better be able to have some kind of control! They are all loves. They love spending time with us and they especially love spending time with me in the studio. All I have to do is speak the words “Go to the studio,” and they are on it, straight to the studio. It is precious.
Going into your studio feels like entering another world. What was your inspiration for your space?
I think it would be hard to nail down any one specific inspiration for my space. I look at my space as a “catch all” for many inspirational elements. I have a growing art collection that I keep in my space as well as a growing wine collection. I also keep anything else in my studio that brings creativity into my life.
Your jewelry has the same vibe. Where do your ideas come from?
To be perfectly honest, most of my ideas come to me in the middle of the night. I find myself waking up anywhere from 12:00 to 2:00 a.m. with a new piece in my head. Of course this sabotages my sleep, but it is a small price to pay for creativity. I derive ideas from travel magazines, decor and fashion magazines and movies. Two of my most coveted designers are Ralph Lauren and Donna Karen. Ralph utilizes “period” designs. His current fall collection is very reminiscent of the twenties and thirties. I appreciate the way Donna Karen has simplified her work. Inspiration can come from anywhere. You just have to apply vision.
You don’t just create jewelry pieces, you create a fantasy world for the wearer. What would we see if we popped into your brain right now?
You would probably see a mass jumbled ball of erratic energy! The creative wheels are always spinning in my head. I look at a broken down weed eater and think, “Hmmm, how can I incorporate that into my creativity?” Color and lots of emotions are always swimming about in my head. I spend a lot of time and energy in every piece that I create. My favorite collections are those that start with one bead. I believe that when someone buys a piece of jewelry it should be thought of as a piece of art. The investment should bring the wearer a sense of one-of-a-kind. It should be something special and not mass produced.
You have a piece by Redding’s own Sean Randall in your studio. What attracted you to his work?
I fell in love with “Tom Waits” by the talented Mr. Sean Randall the first time I saw it. I actually made the mistake of thinking it was Iggy Pop. And then I realized, “Of course it’s Tom Waits.” Sean captured the soul of Mr. Waits. It was not until after I acquired it and hung it in my studio that I realized it was meant to be. I did an ArtHop last November at Vintage Wine Bar using head and hand displays placed on frames. When the show was over I hung the frames in my studio. Sean’s painting fits perfectly because in the painting the hands almost jump out at you!
I’m intruiged by the little bowl of found objects I found while exploring your space. What are you going to do with those cool pieces?
I have been “sitting” on those pieces for awhile now. They are my “thinking outside of the box” collection. I admire (Redding artist) Troy Hawkins’ work. He has the ability to create just about anything from a found object. He has true artistic vision. This bowl of goodies sort of “pushes” me to constantly think outside of myself. I may never make anything out of these found objects. So for now, they serve a sort of inspiration for me.
Tell me about your current collection.
I came up with this current collection, literally, in the middle of the night. I woke up and there it was. I love creating displays that are unusual. I think doing so draws attention to the piece that I have created. The response from my “Heads and Hands” displays was huge. People really liked the idea of having a piece of art displaying their jewelry. So, I decided to create a few displays to sell, each featuring one of my creations. I have also been pounding out a lot of copper. I really enjoy heating, manipulating and hammering copper. This has been a real bare bones way of creating for me.
What’s next from Ursula Guderian?
Right now I have a few ideas bouncing about in my head. One is a “utility” show. I have been collecting up odd bulky pieces of metal parts and large insulators from power poles. Think “utilities” from the game of Monopoly. “The Water Works,” “Electric Works,” etc. Once I create the “utility” display then the jewelry piece will follow.
See Ursula’s work through October at Infinite Designs, 1189 Hilltop Drive, Redding. Meet Urs at a reception for the artist, during Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop, this Sat., Oct. 9, 6 to 9 p.m. Click HERE for ArtHop maps and information.
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your NorthState weekend events to email@example.com.
This portrait of Adam Mankoski was created by Shasta High School students Chance Norman and Kenzi Bell.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.