Jeweler Barbara Heinrich Returns To Telluride Gallery Of Fine Art
[click the play button to hear]
Her ice is nice and Barbara Heinrich’s award-winning baubles, bangles and beads are masterpieces of quiet elegance, not “statement pieces” that shout for attention. Bottom line: Barbara is all about enhancing the beauty of the wearer with jewelry that goes ‘round the clock and lasts for generations.
Barbara has owned and operated a workshop in upstate New York since the 1980s, where she and her assistant produce signature lines such as aspen series, inspired by Telluride and designed for the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, her local patron for the past 15 years.
Barbara returns to town for a show of her latest collection at the TGFA on December 29, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. On December 30, locals and guests are invited by appointment only to consult with the artist about a makeover for tired and heirloom pieces.
Barbara’s street cred was established when she was very young.
She grew up in Heilbronn, Germany, on a farm, with parents who are winemakers.
“From an early age, I had to learn to keep myself busy. I would find snails’ houses and seedpods and make necklaces. I dyed noodles and strung them together. I had my first collection by age five.”
Barbara went on to apprentice in goldsmithing at Pestalozzi Kinderdorf Wahlwies for almost four years. The school operated under Rudolph Steiner’s holistic philosophy: we are part of nature and must live in harmony with the natural world, which inspires us and directs what we ultimately do.
“In a Steiner community, there is no radio, nothing from the outside world. The six apprentices in the program were not allowed to speak to each other, only to our teachers. The silence allowed the peace to speak to us, inspiring our work. To this day, when I design a piece, I often don’t know how I’ll make it. I let the peace tell me.”
After her apprenticeship, Barbara attended Fachhocheschule fur Gestaltung Pforzheim, the most renowned jewelry school in the world at the time, 1977, for a master’s of fine art in jewelry and hollow ware.
“The school’s approach to learning was highly intellectual. We needed a reason for everything you did. We studied art history. We made very experiemental pieces for avant-garde dance performances.”
With a Rotary Club scholarship in hand, Heinrich traveled to America to study at the Rochester Institute of Technolgy, where she earned a second master’s degree in fine art.
“In contrast to Pforzheim, Rochester was very laid back. My work became more innocent, fresher. One of my professors suggested I try working in gold. I started doing what I do now, letting things just happen.”
After graduation, Heinrich was determined to work for Tiffany or Cartier.
“As a girl, I dreamed about selling my pieces in New York. After looking at my portfolio, a potential employer encouraged me to work for myself. I had just met my husband Gregory, an established chiropractor and acupuncturist in Rochester. Working for myself would allow us to remain close. In 1989, we built a beautiful new studio for me adjacent to our home. I am delighted to be making this return trip to Telluride with Gregory and our two children, Tanya and Timo. We are all looking forward to revisiting the mountains and seeing old friends.”
To learn what defines the Barbara Heinrich “look,” press the “play” button and listen to the podcast, the first is a series of four.
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