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    Judith Altruda                     

                                                        About Reticulated Silver              

    About the Artist

    Judith Altruda (photo by Erika Langley)Judith Altruda, a jewelry artist from Tokeland, Washington, has designed a collection of one-of-a-kind jewelry inspired by deities depicted on ancient coins. Each piece is hand-fabricated using metalworking techniques common in past millenia to create statement jewels in silver, copper, bronze, gold, sea glass, gems, and ancient coins. The designs are inspired by the gods, goddesses, nymphs and other symbols of old lore and legend. Other influences are river mist, sand swept shores and sea worn treasures from the artist's home and travels.

    Tokeland sits small but proud on a tiny peninsula on the north end of Willapa Bay, in Washington State. There isn't much around to distract one from the grandeur of the area's wind-swept, rain-soaked beauty. People come seasonally to watch the birds migrate, but other than that, a nearby Indian reservation, a crab cannery, and the post office are the only measurable outposts of any real human activity.

    Judith Altruda lives right down near the beach. From her studio, she looks out over Willapa Bay. "It’s quiet. It’s remote," says the artist. "There are no distractions here because there's really nothing to do."

    The quiet surroundings give her lots of time to create her jewelry. She often begins by going to the beach, out to a little island called Empire Spit. "You have to go out on a low tide to cross the channel," says Altruda. It's there she wanders, soaks in the beauty of the place, and always seems to find exactly what she's looking for: little black pebbles. "I haven't found another place where you pick up black stones that stay black after they dry," says Altruda.

    The little gems work their way into bracelets, rings, earrings, all made by hand, all inspired by the places in which they were found. But, precious jewelry with non-precious stones? The contradiction isn't lost on the jewelry maker who might pair a found stone or beach glass with the gleam of 18 karat gold.

    "I like that juxtaposition of the precious with the ordinary," she enthuses. "In some ways it's more approachable. It relates to a sense of wonder and discovery."

    Each piece of her jewelry is an original work that bears the mark of a skilled artist who has spent a lifetime absorbing the energy and aesthetic of the Pacific Coast and Columbia River. The patterns of weathered wood, the textures of timeworn pilings, the rhythmic marks of wind and waves, all make their way into Altruda's creations. The edges of a ring or bracelet might be irregular and free-flowing to mimic the meandering lines found in the natural world.

    In a black opal bracelet, strands of hammered silver undulate around an Australian stone that burns bright blue. Three gold balls appear to float amongst the rippled silver. "That's one use of a particular texture to evoke the flow of tide in water," says Altruda.

    The artist's hand-selected gemstones voice, through color and shape, the moods and mysteries of our ancient coastline. Whether they are exotic Peruvian opals, glimmering blue chalcedony, shards of beach glass or homely river pebbles, all are inspired by watery environments.

    "For instance moonstones have an iridescent sheen," explains Altruda. "That's a transitory kind of condition that is very much like fog or mist. That's how I work a selected stone into a piece."

    Altruda's jewelry collection at RiverSea Gallery is the distillation of the artist's relationship with her environment. Her extensive use of found materials and reclaimed metals, and her devotion to practicing metalsmithing techniques of old, gives each creation a sense of place, through color, texture, and design.