Story Behind the Artist - Natalie Esfahanian
Jewelry making is a unique art, just like any other, but it’s one that can bring the material world together with nature in a way unlike any other. From silver to gold to copper, there are so many metals to use. Then from diamonds to pearls to one-of-a-kind gemstones, you can embellish any piece to become a unique trinket that will last for years to come and even carry memories both to and from generations.
Natalie Esfahanian of Salayi Designs has been making jewelry since she was 12 years old when she took a class at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Ohio. She has been hooked ever since. While her parents would send her to summer camps for violin lessons, she found herself taking more metalsmithing classes than music classes. She continued the metalsmithing classes through high school at the Toledo Museum of Art and eventually earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree at Boston/Tufts University. From there she shared a studio with 6 other jewelers at the Joy Street Studios in Summerville, then went back to Ohio and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Jewelry. She now lives in Northern California with her two little boys, still making new, unique, silver and gold, jewelry pieces all the time with 25 years of experience guiding her way.
When we asked her where she got her inspiration from, she told us it came from the mindful, meaningful movement of yoga. “Every action in jewelry making can become a yoga practice,” she said. “Watching the heat move as I solder, understanding how each strike against the metal will move it and change its structure, falling into luscious stones and knowing what story to tell with them.” Her all-time favorite jeweler is Rene Lalique but Natalie also finds it inspiring to be connected through time to all other jewelry makers as well, using the same tools, techniques, and working with the same materials from those in the past. Historical pieces made from the earliest known objects of adornment get her inspiration flowing and we can’t wait to see what she will create next.
Her favorite place to create was an 1860’s mid-Michigan farmhouse that she lived in right after graduate school. The former owner was an artist herself and had converted one of the small farm buildings into a studio. It had wall to wall windows along the back which looked out over a fallow field where Natalie could see deer grazing in the early mornings and hear families of coyotes howling into the night. Now her creations are made from a corner of her living room where she can watch the people passing by, hummingbirds visit the garden, and where, every once in a while, her family’s outdoor cat will pop her head up to say the occasional ‘hello’. It isn’t quite the same, serene setting as the Michigan farmhouse but it still allows her to create and be with her sweet boys at the same time.
It is within all of us to create something beautiful and, when you can do so with inspiration from artists in the past, it honors the history of the art form itself and yet keeps it a cherished memory that cannot be forgotten. We are so honored to have an artisan like Natalie amongst our group of female sellers.
**Editor’s note: This article was composed as a joint effort between the Made By Her staff and Natalie herself.