Words and photos by Olivia Bauso
The Adorned Studios fills a unique niche in the South Wedge. While a number of collaborative arts spaces existed in the city at the time of its inception, co-founders Marisa Krol and Amber Dutcher hoped to create a new collaborative workspace and learning hub for local contemporary jewelers and those interested in the craft of metalsmithing.
Marisa and Amber met during their time at SUNY Fredonia, and after losing touch for several years, made their way back to each other as independent jewelry designers. The two talked about teaming up with the goal of opening some sort of communal space. After working with the Yards Collaborative Art Space, Marisa recognized the power that comes from joining creatives together. “It’s magic and it’s beautiful and it’s energizing. That’s the only way to describe it. You go into it with a certain idea of what you want it to be and it takes you on its own wonderful ride. And as jewelers,” Marisa adds, “having a public studio and store was always on the radar of potential.”
At the same time, Marisa became acquainted with Second Chic owner, Annie Adams. Marisa explains, “I always loved the way that she was running her business. It was all about community and growing people. That aligned with what we wanted to do.” So, the three decided to go forward together, naming Second Chic the sister-store to The Adorned Studios. Marisa explains, “It all seemed too synchronistic, like it was all lining up.”
After contemplating using the Rochester Race for the Space as an opportunity to kickstart their adventure, the three eventually decided to go with their current South Wedge space. Marisa and Annie were just stopping into McCann’s when they found the 'For Rent' sign in the window. Amber says, “They called me and twenty minutes later, we’re all just standing around in the parking lot looking at the space. It all happened really fast.”
In March 2016, The Adorned Studios was officially open for business. But where did the name come from? Another collaborative effort amongst Rochester artists. A while back, Marisa worked on a project with Sarah Rutherford - “An amazing artist here in Rochester,” she adds. The initial piece was a mixed-media portrait of Marisa with a poem from another artist titled The Adorned. Marisa felt the language used in the poem really resonated with their mission. She says, “You know, the idea of not just decoration or beautification, but pieces that empower women. Beauty empowers us. It makes us feel comfortable with ourselves when we put these pieces on, whether it be a fragrance or a ring, it speaks to us. That’s why we’re attracted to adorning our bodies with it. So, ‘The Adorned’ seemed fitting for a jewelry studio.”
Amber jumps in, “And I was just like, ‘OK!’” The two laugh at how perfectly it all came together. Marisa adds, “It was always with the intention of, ‘who else is going to be a part of it?’ It’s like the whole field of dreams thing, what is it...” Marisa pauses to find the words and in tandem with her partner exclaims, “If you build it, they will come!” The two laugh and Marisa adds, “Putting a little trust in the universe, and in yourself, that it will work out was a big part of it.”
Nicole “Nikki” Willis joined The Adorned in March 2017 after having known Amber for “basically her whole life.” The two went to high school together and previously worked for Richards & West. For Nikki, jewelry making developed from mixed media sculpture and metal casting at Alfred University. In addition to making and selling jewelry, Nikki creates essential oil products and home decor pieces. Her company, little lies between, means little lies between us and the earth. She explains, “Whether it’s raw stone, essential oil products or home decor, everything has a natural connection with it. It leaves me room to evolve and do other things, but they all relate in that way.”
Amber worked as the head of Richards & West’s casting department for about five years following the completion of her degree in Studio of Fine Arts with a concentration in Jewelry and Metalsmithing at Nazareth College. While at Nazareth, Amber developed her company, Inner Loop Design Co., where she was inspired by the relationship between herself, her community, and violence in America. She says, “I had read a book, Boom, and one of the quotes was ‘Violence is as American as cherry pie.’ that really resonated with me, so it kind of all spun off of that quote.” Thus, many of Amber’s pieces are made using bullet shells and casted gun parts-- turning the notion of guns as violent pieces into something wearable, protective and beautiful.
Like Nikki and Amber, Marisa also attended art school. While at SUNY Fredonia for drawing and painting, Marisa surrendered to an art form for the first time: ceramics. Though she eventually left and earned a degree in Sociology instead, Marisa found her way back to her artistic roots later in Atlanta, GA and Asheville, NC. Through exploration of wire sculpture and portraiture and some much-needed traveling through South America, Marisa eventually felt she was “stumbling towards something.” This is where she developed the name of her company, Interstellar Love Craft. During her time volunteering as a studio assistant to local silversmith, Sharon Jeter, Marisa once again surrendered an art form: jewelry making. After many years of trial and error, she finally found her voice as an artist, one that connected to both her spirit and others. The fuel that fed her passion was the cyclical love and support she felt she could finally give and receive most naturally.
The natural next step for these women was to then share their love for their craft with the community. Nikki, the daughter of a teacher, and Amber, a full-time art teacher say that teaching came naturally to them. Nikki explains, “It’s inherently in me, and I have such fun watching groups of people embrace their creativity.” Marisa, though hadn’t taught before The Adorned explains that her excitement for and knowledge of the craft lead her to the classroom. She adds, “Metal, I feel like, is so forgiving. It’s hard to make a mistake that you can’t create a new solution to fix. Students take things in a whole new direction, and I feel like we’re inspired by them and it’s very symbiotic.”
The women go on to chat about the excitement of seeing students share their work on social media and continue using the principles they’ve learned at home. Moving forward, Amber and Marisa hope to expand the reach of The Adorned Studios within the Rochester community and their own walls. Through growth in their personal brands and collaboration with each other, the three see big things happening for The Adorned this summer.
Did you know that Adorned Studios offers classes through Rochester Brainery? Join Nikki’s Essential Oils Facial & Body Spray class on June 13, Marisa and Amber’s Textured Bar Necklace class on June 21, or their Hand Stamped Necklace class on June 26. More available classes from the Adorned Studios are listed here!