A few words from our featured artists, gallery artists Ainsley Bennett and Rachel Bleckman, and jewelry artists (and BDB staff members) Lydia Chapman, Sydney Khan, Briana Oliver, and Dara Rosenwasser:
Gallery Artist – Ainsley Bennett
Ainsley Rene Bennett was raised in the East Bay, but has traveled and sketched through many countries including Mexico, Japan, Turkey, and Italy. Ainsley has always had an affinity towards art, influenced by her parents, and refined through preschool. She does not limit herself to one medium and will grab just about any thing to draw and paint with or on. Her art tends to tell a story — one she will happily inform you of to correct any misunderstanding. Her long-term focus has been on monsters and robots, potentially rooted in her desire to show others how misunderstood these two groups of subjects are. She also really loves zombies. Although an early career artist, you can see a bright future for Ainsley with these thought-provoking pieces and her status-quo-challenging perspective! Ainsley, aka Bead-Baby, is the 5 year old daughter of Sara Mancini, owner.
Born and raised outside Chicago, Rachel made the trek to the West Coast 17 years ago. She moved to Piedmont Avenue, and she has resided here ever since. Rachel’s photography expertise includes portraits, events, and corporate work. Most recently, Rachel has contributed her talents to Blue Door Beads by photographing a range of beads, components, and jewelry. We proudly feature her photos on our Instagram account and website!
Featured Jewelry Artists – Lydia Chapman, Sydney Khan, Briana Oliver, and Dara Rosenwasser
Lydia Chapman of The Patina Project
Ever since Lydia was three years old, when her parents had to wipe her hand- and nose-prints off the display window at Tiffany & Co., she had dreamed of working with sparkly things. Now, decades later, Lydia considers herself lucky to be able to create beautiful pieces of jewelry for a living! She has now been beading regularly for almost 20 years, has worked in the beading industry for the past 10 years, and has been the manager of Blue Door Beads since it opened in 2012.
Her jewelry line, The Patina Project, is a collection of pieces that range in texture from smooth and streamlined to organic and a little funky, but all possess the earthy darkness of well-worn brass or antiqued sterling silver. She hasn’t abandoned her love of sparkly things, however – keep an eye out for the unique gemstones that appear in virtually every piece! When not making jewelry, Lydia enjoys urban hikes around the Bay Area, taking snapshots, and bargain-hunting at local thrift stores. She also enjoys trips to California’s many beaches to search for interesting rocks & shells that may someday show up in future jewelry pieces!
Sydney Khan of Tropikali
Sydney started creating jewelry at a young age at an alternative school where she was exposed to various types of craft and art processes. She continued exploring different types of art and fell in love with jewelry when she was able to proudly wear her creations. The empowering sense of accomplishment lead to an inescapable passion to share these pieces with others. She draws inspiration from taking hikes, and brings bright and colorful combinations from her Pakistani heritage.
Tropikali is inspired by bright bold pieces that the goddess Kali represents in Middle Eastern culture. Kali is a fierce mother who transcends time and does not hide behind a false self. Her three eyes represent the three pieces of time — past, present, future — and bring awareness to the components of creation. Tropikali is inspired by these features with the intention to create bold and unique pieces to empower individuals to live life confidently and authentically.
As a child, Briana was notorious for always having to be doing something with her hands, whether it be drawing, painting, or some other creative form. Around the age of 12, she discovered the art of jewelry making. Her mother introduced her to the craft, but she really began to take interest when she started working at Blue Door Beads when it first opened in 2012. Her debut line of jewelry mixes her love of geometric forms and brass. She creates every piece by hand alongside her mother in a workspace set up in her childhood bedroom. Her most beloved pieces come from unexpected mistakes that challenge her creativity and result in a final product that is different from her original idea, but still true to her aesthetic.
Dara Rosenwasser of D. Lea Studio
After a decade-long stint as a touring vocalist and musician, Dara received her MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2014. Always creating and finding connection with her roots, she discovered metalsmithing and electroforming as ways to merge the craft of making with storytelling through her family history in the copper-mining and garment manufacturing industries.
She introduced her jewelry line D. Lea Studio in the fall of 2015 and continues to share her work online and in the Bay Area at local shops. Loving the educational and community-driven components of art making, Dara is also an instructor and the Art Coordinator at Blue Door Beads. For more info and inquiries visit her website at www.dararosenwasser.com and Instagram @dara_d.lea.