Every time I sit down to talk with someone for this blog, I’m never quite sure what story I’ll hear or what story I’ll share. Yet, I’m always entranced by everyone’s story and amazed by all the fascinating people living here in Portland. It was the same with Barbara Brosh of Barb’s Metal Magic. Barbara’s got a pretty neat story. She makes stunning jewelry from metal, wire and stones, but she also embodies a spirit of warmth that brightens those it touches.
The Mettle of Determination: Barbara says she’s always been interested in jewelry, so when she retired she set about learning how to make it. She enrolled in classes at Mt. Hood Community College to learn how to work with metal. At first she felt discouraged and wanted to drop the classes. But she stuck it out. She made friends, found mentors, and kept making jewelry.
Creative Fire: Barbara says some of her favorite pieces start as mistakes, which gives her work an organic look and feel. She also has a bit of a penchant for working with fire. She has fun melting things, and loves how the edges get weird. Perhaps she’s attracted to the warmth and light of the flame and the enduring passion it represents. I think she has a certain determined creativity, as well as a deep connection with her art that grows over time. In fact, that’s how she lives her life.
Deep Compassion: Barbara was a nurse for many years in many different settings. She worked in a hospital, she worked with the disabled, she worked in a nursing home, and she worked in a corrections facility. She started her medical career as an aide, but went back to school at age 40 to finish her nursing education. She talked of juggling school, work and family. As Barbara spoke fondly of working with her patients, her compassion spoke louder than her words.
Connections: I think compassion and connection are a huge part of what drives Barbara. As we chat, she tells me about her class reunions with her 8th grade class. Wow! I’m not even sure I remember but one or two people from my 8th grade class. She also meets up regularly with a roommate she had many years ago while living in San Jose. It’s apparent Barbara values her connections with people and remains a loyal friend. How many of us take the time out of our busy lives to stay in touch like that? Barbara is really something special.
Community: Barbara also is connected to a community of artists here in Portland. She’s been a member of Artistic Portland, an artisans co-op, for about 3 years. She works in the shop in downtown Portland at least four days a month, but sometimes more. Again, Barbara shares how she enjoys meeting the people in the co-op and meeting the people who come to the shop. In fact, the co-op is the main showcase for her work, preferring not to work craft shows and fairs.
Jewelry Zen: For Barbara, I think creating and designing her jewelry is a way to express her creativity and to connect with herself. She talked of how she works with a piece in almost a Zen-like fashion. She starts with an idea, but lets the results of her work guide her, not really tied a specific end result. I sense more of a natural flow of design, rather than a mapped out design. And her jewelry is pretty cool! All of the pieces are unique and reflect her creative personality.
Featured image source: Barbara Brosh