Artists

Isha: Nomadic Knotwork

“Each person has their own color scheme and stones which harmonize with their spirit…when a person picks the perfect necklace for their feeling, and coloring, the necklace changes from an inanimate piece of jewelry…It actually comes alive, and the wearer becomes radiant! ” –Isha Elafi

Artisan, Isha Elafi, elevates the ancient art of micro-macramé to a new level. The influence of the various tribal cultures that she has visited throughout Asia and South America is easy to see. Each piece, impeccably stitched, expresses the passion and skill of a person who has spent her life trusting her intuition, perfecting her gifts and following her bliss.

A spiritual nomad, with a deep love of travel and diverse cultures, Isha began creating micro-macramé in 1978 as a means to honor her passion.

Creating necklaces, bracelets and earrings to sell in markets from Peru to India, Isha was able to combine travel and work, and all the while encounter cultures that inspired her designs, and materials to incorporate into her art. Isha named her distinctive jewelry Nomadic Knotwork. Combining intricate patterns of hand dyed durable nylon threads, beautiful semiprecious stones and silver, and an intuitive awareness of color, pattern and texture inspired by nature and native cultures, her gifts coalesce to form incredible pieces of wearable art.

You can see more of Isha’s work at SevenSistersGalleryCa.com
or in our store in Morro Bay, California.

Morro Rock

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Stretching from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo, a string of nine volcanic plugs sacred to the Chumash and Salinan indigenous peoples of our area, separates the Los Osos and Chorro Valleys and provides incredible views of green hills and beautiful cloud formations. The Morros, as the small string of peaks is called, end with Morro Rock in Morro Bay. Seven Sisters Gallery choose it’s name in honor of the seven visible peaks (known as The Seven Sisters) within this string of peaks. Morro Rock, the most sacred of these plugs and the location where countless rituals have taken place over the years, lies just outside our door and is the inspiration for our unique signature line of Morro rock jewelry.

A steadfast refuge to creatures great and small, The Rock symbolizes sanctuary, groundedness, the sense of our empowerment to overcome obstacles and the return of cherished things which might have once seemed lost.


“El Morro” was first named by the Spanish maritime explorer, Juan Rodriguez Castillo, when he saw it in 1542. But the Chumash and Salinan had been living around the rock since long before the Spanish explorers sited it. Both Native American tribes have been known to perform rituals on Morro Rock, including one prayer ritual by the Salinan that was said to ensure the return of the Sun after it had set.

In 1968 the rock was designated as a State Historical Landmark and since then, climbing the rock has been off limits to the public as it is a designated Peregrine Falcon sanctuary. The majestic raptors have nested on Morro Rock for centuries, and it was at one time one of the last remaining nesting sites in California when extensive use of DDT nearly drove the Falcons to extinction. Rehabilitation efforts since the ban of DDT have been successful in increasing Peregrine population once again, and it is now common to see the fastest animal in the world flying above the bay.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morro_Rock

Elizabeth Ngo: Antique Button Jewelry

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Elizabeth Ngo creates jewelry from historical works of art. Perhaps you yourself own one of these tiny historical pieces, thrown into a jar or the back of a drawer. You might have one or two tucked under your sofa cushion. The button. The simple fastener that fastens material and memories and generations. How many of us remember hours of entertainment sifting through button collections? Enjoying the feel of running our fingers through a pile spilled onto the floor. Marveling at the variety and detail. Turning to our siblings to say, “look at this one!” So often, as I stand with a customer, picking up this piece and that of the Ngo collection, I hear a story tied to memories of our mothers, our grandmothers, our younger selves.

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The simple button carries a sort of sacred quality that transports us to another time. Elizabeth Ngo retains that quality by creating with great respect and attention to detail. With a profound reverence for the historical significance of each piece, she maintains the integrity of the button by leaving the shank in tack. Setting the buttons in finely worked and beautifully detailed sterling silver to create wonderfully balanced rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Adding details of Swarovski crystals and semi-precious stones and the finest findings.

“I work mostly with the Victorian Glass, picturesque French Metals, carved pearls and hand painted enamel buttons from this period. They are all very unique works of art that speak about their time period. Preserving these buttons into unique pieces of jewelry is my way of putting the buttons back on the women.”

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These elegant works of art reflect the era of the 1800’s in Europe. Whimsical characters, fleur de lis imagery, knights and battles, created with amazing enameling and intricate carving. Victorian glass, pearls and shells, ornate rhinestones and iridescent glass, all reflecting a time when art and history and handwork were highly revered.

The history of buttons goes back at least as far as the Satsumas, highly collectible ceramic buttons from Japan. Named for a historic ceramics center on the southernmost island of Japan, Satsumas were first made in the 17th century by Korean potters. These buttons were often painted in extraordinary detail, depicting miniature scenes from Japanese life and the natural world.

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The brass picture buttons, which you’ll find in the Elizabeth Ngo collection, come from the Victorian era and are also highly collectible. Delightful pieces, stamped with charming images inspired by everything from operas to children’s books. Other picture buttons took their cues from nature (flora and fauna), the sciences (stars and moons), or mythology (cupids and fairies).

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Black glass buttons from the Victorian era came next. Initially, black buttons were made out of jet, a fossilized coal found near Whitby, England. But because of the high cost of jet, black glass was soon used as a replacement.

Some black glass buttons were molded to create reliefs of plants and animals, and detailed pictorials. Some of the buttons have reliefs of fabrics patterns; others have a stunning silver or iridescent luster. You might also find some that have been painted or enameled.

Explore our cases and join in discovering the stories behind these historical pieces. Once your inner sleuth is awoken, you might check out some of these great online resources to further your adventure:

Hammond Turner & Sons online collection: http://www.hammond-turner.com/

Keep Homestead online collection: http://keephomesteadmuseum.org/button.htm

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), London, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. They have an online button collection that you can view at: http://bit.ly/1rXwmIB

Field Guide to Antique Buttons and Vintage Glass http://www.grandmothersbuttons.com/Images/Interior/resources/gran_fieldguide_web2011.pdf

Pearls: Symbols of Wisdom

The pearl, highly valued as an object of beauty for many centuries, has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, admirable and valuable. The symbol of wisdom acquired through experience.

noun: pearl

  1. a hard, lustrous spherical mass, typically white or bluish-gray, formed within the shell of a pearl oyster or other bivalve mollusk and highly prized as a gem.
  2. a precious thing; the finest example of something. “the nation’s media were assembled to hear his pearls of wisdom
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Unlike gemstones which are mined from the earth and then must be cut and polished to bring out their beauty, pearls are grown by live oysters, below the surface of the sea, and born complete.

A natural pearl begins its life as a foreign object becomes lodged in an oyster’s soft inner body where it cannot be expelled. The oyster responds by secreting a smooth, hard, crystalline substance (nacre) around the irritant in order to protect itself. Encasing the irritant with this silky, crystalline coating until a luminously elegant and lustrous gem, called a pearl, is formed.

How something so miraculous emerges, out of an oyster’s way of protecting itself, is one of nature’s loveliest surprises and explains how the pearl has come to symbolize wisdom acquired through experience.

While the most valuable pearls are perfectly round and smooth, many other interesting shapes also form and are known as Baroque pearls.

Baroque pearls, especially during the Renaissance times, have been valued for their sculptural inspiration. One example of this is the Canning Jewel, from the 16th century, which uses a large Baroque pearl as the body of a mermaid-esque figure.

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“The Canning Jewel is a sculptural pendant of the late Renaissance period, ascribed by some jewelry historians to Benvenuto Cellini, a celebrated sculptor, goldsmith, author and soldier of the Italian Renaissance. Around this period from the 15th to 17th centuries, baroque pearls in large quantities had reached the European markets, from the traditional pearl producing countries like the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and Gulf of Mannar, and also from the newly discovered pearl banks of the New World, in Venezuela, Colombia and Panama, but there was no demand for such pearls because of their irregular shapes, which would not fit into any type of existing jewelry at that time. Pearl dealers had large numbers of such irregular-shaped pearls in their stocks, not knowing what to do with their accumulated stocks. It was then that the enterprising jewelry craftsmen of the Renaissance period, came up with the idea, of incorporating these baroque pearls, together with other colored gemstones,  in various fancy shaped pendants; shapes that bore fruit in the fertile imagination of the craftsmen taking into consideration the unique shape of each baroque pearl. The result was a host of different pendants with a multitude of shapes such as animal and bird figures, bunches of flowers and fruits, monsters, dragons, mermaids and other mythical figures; the shape of the pendants being determined by the shape of the baroque pearls that were incorporated in them.” -http://www.internetstones.com/the-canning-jewel-india-viscount-earl.html

Today, Baroque pearls are a more affordable option than traditional, spherical pearls. And preferred by some for the way their irregular shapes inspire our imagination. But whatever your preference, from the spherical to the baroque, we’re sure you’ll enjoy our varied collection at Seven Sisters Gallery.

Trudi Gilliam: Metal Sculpture

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Trudi Gilliam is an artist who specializes in sculptures and mixed media art. A graduate of James Madison University with a bachelors degree in Fine Art and a concentration in Sculpture, Trudi draws inspiration, for her one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted pieces, from the wild landscapes in which she travels and lives. As an avid fan of the ocean, and to get an even closer perspective of the sea and marine life, Gilliam received her scuba certification while living on St. Croix, where she has spent more than 25 years. Today Trudi shares time between St. Croix, the Central Coast of California, and her home in Montana.

Gilliam makes frequent use of mediums such as copper and sea glass, as well as other metals like brass and silver, using them to create her works of art. Birds, flowers, and nature scenes are often the subject of Gilliam’s creations. One of our favorites is of a local treasure, the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, which has recently reopened after extensive restoration.

The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse is located at Point Piedras Blancas, meaning “white rocks”. The name is inspired by the large white rocks located slightly off the point, which mariners would use as navigational landmarks. In 1875, a lighthouse was built to further take advantage of the white rocks, which glowed bright when hit with the light from the lighthouse. After 10 months of construction, the 100 foot tall lighthouse was complete.

Throughout the rest of the 1800’s and early 1900’s the lighthouse was in full use, although a handful of earthquakes began to shake the foundation of the lighthouse, and a large earthquake in 1949 forced the removal of the top 3 stories. After the top 3 stories were removed, the lighthouse stood at 70 feet tall.

Restoration is currently taking place, with goals to reconstruct the top 3 stories and return the lighthouse to its original height of 100 feet. Some of the completed restoration projects on the sight include the fog horn building, the water tower, and much painting of the original lighthouse.

In addition, the landscaping has been redone to restore it back to how it was at the time of the lighthouse’s construction. The reintroduction of native plants has also lead to the increase in native animals, such as sea otters, elephant seals, gray whales, and many species of birds.

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Savannah Designs

Seven Sisters Gallery is excited to carry Savannah Designs, the beautiful work of Juana and Steve Jelen.

Juana Jelen, the designer behind the beautiful art of Savannah Designs, is a self taught jewelry artist, originally from the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco in Peru. After meeting her husband to be, Steve, Juana left Peru for Brazil, India and Nepal and later on to Switzerland, Spain and England before settling permanently in California.

Once established, in California, Steve and Juana opened a gallery which they ran for the next twenty three years.

These days Juana spends her time designing and creating her own line of beautiful, contemporary jewelry with an organic, textured feel which makes her (and all her customers!) extremely happy. We’re sure you will enjoy wearing any of the Savannah jewelry pieces as much as she enjoyed making them.

Zealandia Designs

“The boundless profusion of animal symbolism in the religion and art of all times does not merely emphasize the importance of the symbol; it shows how vital it is for men to integrate into their lives the symbol’s psychic content— instinct.”   -Jung, Carl Gustav, Man and His Symbols. Random House, Inc.

Weaving together her love of natural materials, and a fascination with spiritual and mythological art, Zealandia Design’s artisan, Jenny Byrne, has created a unique line of silver, gold fill, and fossilized ivory jewelry rich in archetypal symbolism.

Even the materials Jenny chooses seem infused with the gifts of ancient wisdom to be carried forward to our modern psyches. Jenny combines the natural elements of silver, gold fill, fossilized walrus tusk, ancient mammoth ivory, semi-precious stones, ammonites, mother of pearl, and paua, into jewelry as unique as a fingerprint. Incorporating ancient fossilized ivories with colors ranging from creamy white to a rich black, depending on the minerals it was in contact with and the length of time it was in the ground. Fossilized walrus tusk, which has lain beneath the soil for 500 to 3,000 years, is obtained legally from Eskimo families who excavate it from village sites on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. With intention, Jenny selects the fossilized ivory, vibrant shells, and semi-precious stones, appropriate for each piece of her handcrafted jewelry.

“The richness of hues developed by the fossilization of ancient ivory makes each piece of our ivory jewelry unique. The idea of using ivory as old as the petroglyphs, and cultures that inspire me, is very exciting as I like my designs to tell stories that honor the wisdom ancient people developed to explain and understand the forces surrounding them. I see early expressions of writing, art and ritual as having an innate power, and incorporate this into my designs as silent incantations or mantra.”   -Jenny Byrne, Zealandia Designs

Beyond the materials is the design. A design informed by Jenny Byrne’s love and respect for the stories and mythology of our ancestors and a deep understanding of the enduring power of archetypal symbolism. Images familiar to all of us, via our dreams and stories and our time in the natural world.

Wearing Zealandia Designs, you can know that you have brought more than a beautiful and timeless piece of jewelry into your life; you have brought the gifts of ancient wisdom.

Zealandia's Dragonfly Rising Pin/Pendant

Please feel free to leave a comment by hitting “leave a reply” at the top of the page. Let us know which symbols, from the natural world, you find personally significant and would like to welcome into your life; or any other thoughts you’d like to share.

Rone Prinz

Whimsically humorous clockwork shorebirds with antique watch-part tummies and dangling legs, silver whale flukes on copper seas, winged beetles and shadow-boxed bees adorned with semi-precious stones, sea siren mermaids with moonstone faces, playful flowers in shades of metal, stones softened by the ebb and tide of the sea.  All part of Rone Prinz’ collection of unique wearable art jewelry – Industrial Zen goes natural.

“I started making jewelry during a Japanese papermaking class in 1986. I tore a piece off one of my sculptures & turned it into a pair of earrings. I saw a universe of beauty in this tiny little fragment that day. Then the alchemy of art began to evolve & one thing led to another. As I keep evolving I am still making jewelry. I am heavily influenced by my surroundings, whether it be driving cross country to an art show or  walking on the beach  watching birds. It’s exciting to see what wants to escape from my hands & form itself into something that is actually wearable.”

“Never limiting myself as far as materials go, I figure everything is a candidate from sterling silver & precious gems to found objects. I especially love repurposing these objects which to me are as precious as a diamond. I use basic metalsmithing & sculpture techniques to fabricate, such as forming, carving, sawing, soldering & sanding.”

We’d love to hear what you have to say about Rone’s work and her process. Leave us a message on our blog, and visit us at Seven Sisters Gallery.