Process​​

I create my work in my small garage studio on Orcas Island. Each piece is a process of inspiration, design, fabrication and offering. My primary tool is a fine bladed jeweler's saw, which I use to cut each intricate shape by hand. All jewelry is fused with silver solder and an acetylene torch. Finish work is completed with small hand files and primarily hand sanding. Each piece is designed and fabricated in a labor of love and slightly compulsive perfectionism. I feel great satisfaction making metal look and feel soft. Soft round edges, soft satin finish. I want the wearer to feel like they're putting on their favorite gauzy t shirt. I also create my jewelry to be strong, enduring, something that can be worn daily and passed down to accumulate the stories of generations. Finally, my metalwork embodies a deep sense of place and reverence for the beauty and bio-diversity of the Pacific Northwest. I am honored to share a small piece of my home with you.
Background

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and though I have traveled, Orcas Island has been my heart's home for sixteen years. I studied for my Bachelor’s Degree of Liberal Arts at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.  My focus revolved around herbalism, medicinal plants of the PNW, yoga, writing and fine art.  
 
My brand name, Sea Starling Fine Metalwork, blends Sea Star (the historically ubiquitous “starfish” native to the San Juan Islands) and Starling (an introduced European bird whose winter feather-tips grow brilliant white, causing the birds to resemble a clear night sky full of stars). I observe both my status as a “native” born Northwesterner and an introduced species of European descent. 
 
Many of my designs include imagery of the Pacific Northwest and Salish Sea:  one of the most ecologically diverse regions of the world.  "Salish Sea" is a recent naming of the collective waters of Puget Sound, Juan de Fuca Strait, and the Strait of Georgia. The name honors the Indigenous Tribes of this region, and recognizes our watershed as trans-boundary between Canada, the Indigenous Tribal Nations, and the United States.  Collaboration is imperative to properly care for our shared resources.  Through my metalwork I strive to inspire stewardship of this magical place with images of the beauty around us.
 
I spend the dark northwest winters at work in my metal shop.  Seasonally, I work as a captain and naturalist for whale watching and water taxi service Deer Harbor Charters. For the past four years I have educated my passengers and myself about the ecology of the whales, wildlife, and waters of the Salish Sea.  I studied for my marine naturalist certification through the Whale Museum on San Juan Island and am a member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists (SSAMN).  I am a USCG certified captain and follow the Be Whale Wise guidelines when viewing wild whales.  I also volunteer with the Island Oil Spill Association. We meet regularly to learn and practice oil containment drills on the water and shorelines of our vulnerable islands.

~Artist, Ashley Ryder