Harmony Winters’ studio space matches her perfect artist’s name. It’s a 20-by-20-foot jewelry-making area set up harmonically for soldering, filing, hammering, packing, shipping and typing. Her son Ryder, age seven, makes things in the studio and has his own table at some of his mom’s craft shows.
She bangs on a big anvil in the middle of the space set atop a stump of a tree. Her favorite little rusty hammer sits on top of it most of the time. “It’s actually Ryder’s hammer, but it creates the best texture on the metal, so I try to keep it out of the sandbox. My work is mostly all textured by hammering the silver and gold between the little rusty hammer and the big rusty anvil,” she says.
That’s not all she hammers. Harmony built her workbench tall so she could stand to work since sitting makes her knees as rusty as Ryder’s hammer. The workbench is also, in her words, “a hot mess.” “I have quite a few to-do lists. For example there are jewelry parts, in all stages of development – from a recently-cast twig to a wedding band ready to polish. As I look around, I have at least 30 different projects that are in progress,” she exclaims.
Now, for the walls: “My work consists of recycled sterling silver and high karat gold, so one wall is lined with spools of metal wire. The other wall is a corkboard with random pictures of the ocean, jewelry pieces, inspiration and ideas sketched onto bits of paper,” says Harmony.
And what is on the floor? “Scattered rugs, my dog Cedar – a big white fluffy guy – my new kitten Pepper, an antique wooden toolbox full of rusty hammers and a huge mess of wood chips from my son’s latest project,” says Harmony, laughing.
On the ceiling? More smiles: “Airy lights covering the pipes and unsightly ceiling business.”
Recently, Harmony received a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which offers training classes geared towards artists with lessons in marketing, legal training and other tools to bridge the left-brained, right-brained gap.
Money, she adds, has never been the driving factor of her decisions. Time is. So, after discovering the beauty and heated joy fanned by her part-time job in a glassblowing studio amid the creative community of UMass Dartmouth, she was hooked.
“I was determined to have my own business, where I could set my own hours and live a freer lifestyle. I dropped out of college and began an apprenticeship with a metalsmith in Boston for a year. I started my own business in 2006 and have been at it full-time since,” she says.
Harmony draws inspiration from being a surfer and mother, both of which draw her attention to the environment, and she finds enormous beauty in pure simplicity. Her handcrafted jewelry, which uses traditional metalsmith techniques, packs more than just an aesthetic punch. Take, for example, a recent commission for a family who lost their seven-year-old son due to E. coli-contaminated beef. “Shortly after he passed, a heart-shaped leaf fell into the mom’s lap and she knew it was a sign from him,” she says. “I preserved the leaf in a pendant for her and made a silver one for his sister. It was really an emotional commission.”
Harmony also works with the mentally and physically challenged and looks to increase her artwork for those who might find added joy and hope within its forged dimensions. Harmony Winters Jewelry reflects a delicate feminine style with great strength in its design, much like the person who makes it and the one who wears it.