Artist Spotlight: Gabrielle Gould August 29 2020

Gabrielle Gould in her St. Augustine Studio 

How did you first become interested in making jewelry?

I was an art student at Flagler College, St Augustine. It was my junior year, and while I knew I wanted a career in art, I was unsure of which direction to take, so I immersed myself in a variety of classes. I double-majored in both fine art and commercial art. It was during this time that my professor, Enzo Torcoletti, decided to offer a course in jewelry making. I loved it! There was no turning back after that.

What artists have had an influence on your style and why?

Alexander Calder has had a big influence on me. I am drawn to his wonderful wirework, ease of design, and playfulness - which speaks to all ages. I love that he was both a sculptor and jeweler- with his jewelry being miniature sculptures.

The jeweler William Harper has also inspired me. His use of high karat gold with found objects such as shells, plastic, and broken shards of mirror are truly original and exciting.

The innovative work of German jeweler Hermann Junger is another inspiration.  His work has had a far-reaching influence not only in his native country but across Europe and the US.  Although technically trained as a goldsmith, Junger would take artistic license, departing from traditional jewelry making to create pieces that delighted in imperfection and a sort of randomness in composition. He used precious stones and gems in an artistic, painterly way that I just love.

With that said, ultimately the biggest influence in my style would have to be my architect father, Martin Gould. Growing up, my world was steeped in design, proportion, and art.

How would you describe your work to someone that hasn’t seen it?

Although I prefer to incorporate the precious metals of silver and gold, it is not the value of the metals that I promote in my work. I have chosen them primarily because I enjoy the making process and these metals are just so lovely to work with. All of my work is hand-fabricated, hand-built. It figuratively represents the nature - flora and fauna - of North Florida, where I live. I love to draw, and my jewelry pieces of birds, bugs, fish, and wildlife are extensions of my drawings. I also gather shells, feathers, and found objects which I incorporate into my pieces. Feathers are a main material in my work.

Left: Gabrielle Gould, Lacey Winged Moth, sterling silver, 14K gold, 16 inches
Gabrielle Gould, Lacey Winged Moth, sterling silver, 14K gold, 16 inches

Are there any unique materials you enjoy working with the most? If so, please elaborate.

As mentioned, feathers and shells are used in my pieces most often. I prefer these to precious gems. Feathers seem so perfect in jewelry.  They are lightweight, colorful, and very versatile. Yes, they are fragile, but not as much as one would think. Combing the beach for shells, collecting specimen shells, and traveling to beaches for shells has always been a hobby of mine.  I love being able to highlight these beautiful shells by using them in my work.

How does living in Florida influence your work?

I think about this question a lot! In studying the historical adornment of native people, it is evident their local environment plays the biggest role. I like to think of myself as a modern-day hunter-gatherer as I tramp through piney-woods, search the shoreline, and hike in the hammock forests near my home.

Where do you find inspiration when you are beginning a new piece? Do you have an idea in mind when you begin, or do you work more intuitively?

I like to work everything out on paper first, so I draw my ideas before I start the fabrication. By drawing the piece, I can visualize size, dimension, and technical challenges before I begin. I have lots of sketchbooks filled with ideas!

Detail from one of Gabrielle Gould's sketchbooks 

Pick one of your pieces at Arts on Douglas to discuss. Can you offer additional insight? What makes it different than some of your other work?

My necklace, Ocean Treasures (see below), is a piece made primarily from locally found natural ‘treasures’. To make it, I gathered coquina shells and feathers from my regular beach walks. I combined the coquina and feathers with coral, pearls, and 18K gold to emphasize that all of these elements are precious and have value.

Gabrielle Gould, Ocean Treasures, 18K, 14K gold, shells, feathers, pearls,18 inches

What does a typical day in the studio look like?

My studio is in the historical district of downtown St Augustine. I live north of it, near the Intracoastal Waterway. I enjoy the drive into work every day and being able to walk to a cafe for coffee or breakfast. Most times my dog comes with me to work. We usually take an afternoon walk around the Fort. I like to split my workday into the following: creative new work is usually done first thing in the morning and then afternoons are used for filling orders for galleries or working on upcoming exhibitions/fairs.

What are you working on now?
I enjoy taking classes and educating myself on new techniques in my field. Being a craftsman there is always something new to learn! During COVID-19, I have had the downtime to take online classes. Most recently I have signed up to learn soldering methods for steel.

CLICK HERE to view available work by this artist.