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wild gatherings

Address
Turner, Oregon
United States

Hi, I'm Shirley. Welcome to my Wild Gatherings. I truly appreciate you being here! I create functional and decorative metal art & jewelry, using mostly old-school techniques. I specialize in kiln- and torch-fired vitreous enamel on copper & silver. Gemstones are a passion for me, as is re-purposing metals into items for dress or decor. I value integrity. My motto - be curious and ask questions. My mantra - think kind thoughts, and watch your words - they become your destiny.
Shirley Walle  
~ Torchsmith • Enamelist • Arcadian • Wonderer  
Learn more about my story below the video ↓. 

Continuing the Journey

I've lived in the beautiful Pacific Northwest since 1974. I love Oregon's high desert; the humbling Badlands of ancient Juniper Trees; Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja), Woolly Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), and willow-saturated marshlands created by the ever-eager beaver. I also appreciate and become recharged within the dark and damp secrecy of Oregon's rain forests. Alright, enough with the poetic stuff. I won't tell you that I am "nature inspired" because, well, aren't we all? I like to fix things. I enjoy creating something out of very little. I thrive on being resourceful, inventive, innovative, and original.

My first soldering experience was for a school project at age 13 - a very intricate miniature three-wheeled surrey with moving wheels, a steering rod, and twisted-wire fringe on top. My dad, Willard, was very supportive of my "playing" in the garage. He would set me up with a soldering gun, a lathe, a saw, hammer and nails, or whatever I needed. I learned at an early age, by example, that I could do anything. If I didn't quite know how, I would figure it out.

My love for small things: For several years when I was little, we would visit my grandma and grandpa. The first thing I would do after arriving at their home was go into the kitchen to a special place on the counter to see if Grandma had saved any tiny bottles for me. The smaller the better, and they were like treasures to me. I still love tiny things and my little enameled copper bowls and tiny copper trinket boxes reflect this. I also still love tiny bottles ~ I used a tiny gem-filled bottle as the object chamber for one of my handmade kaleidoscopes. I also enjoyed painting miniature watercolors, the smaller the better.

WILD GATHERINGS ~ How Wild Gatherings came about: In 1993 I was preparing to engage in my very first craft booth at the local year-round Public Market in Salem, Oregon. I was creating lists of items that I could make to sell. On one of the lists were items I could collect in the wild such as seeds, sage, wildflower bouquets, etc. At the top of this particular list I entered the title, "Wild Gatherings". The name stuck and became all-encompassing for the many aspects of my craft. For the next ten years or so, I maintained an art & craft booth and participated in local Saturday Markets as well as art and craft shows in the Pacific Northwest and Southern-to-Northern California ~ offering a myriad of handmade creations: kaleidoscopes (copper or stained glass), obsidian needle chimes (I dug the obsidian needles myself at Davis Creek, CA), perfumes and soaps, copper olive oil lamps, geode aromatherapy diffusers, bud vases made out of old silverware, handmade cone incense [yes, I formed each cone, one at a time, by hand], beeswax & soy wax candles, and many other articrafts. My Wild Gatherings booth won the "Most Excellent Merchant's Display Of The Faire" at the 1997 Valhalla Renaissance Festival at Lake Tahoe. I was proud to be featured in local newspapers, as well.

I've been fascinated by copper and it's many uses. Back in the '80's my stepmom gifted me a small copper-enameling kiln along with some copper blanks and a few samplings of enamels. I kept it all, just in case I might want to do something with it some day.

Fast forward to 2014. I offered myself the choice to either part with my stash, or build a space where I could be creative with the materials that I had hoarded for so long. Thus, I built my atelier ~ complete with hot & cold running water, two skylights, a vaulted ceiling, and a crystal chandelier.

FORMAL TRAINING: I was an art major in school. For two years in the early nineties I trained with an old master Silversmith in the art of sterling silver lost wax casting and sterling fabrication. Through experimentation, detail observation, reading, successes, and many ah-hah! moments, I am primarily self taught with more than a half-century of experience.

FOR THE BLIND and/or VISUALLY IMPAIRED: For fourteen years I was a computer graphic artist, creating tactile graphics for higher education math textbooks for college students who are blind. I have read, cover to cover, dozens of calculus, algebra, physics, chemistry, and statistics textbooks, and created - on a computer - a tactile representation of every diagram in each book, complete with braille labels. The diagrams were embossed on a special braille printer and inserted into a [huge] braille rendition of the textbook. I incorporate Braille into some of my jewelry. The term "I am enough" is particularly appropriate.

I compose my work from raw, reclaimed, or recycled copper; .999 fine silver; .935 Argentium Silver; .925 Sterling Silver; sterling findings; vitreous lead-free enamel powders and frit; and various re-claimed metals and materials. Enameled pieces are either torch or kiln-fired. I love wild things like lichen, moss, rough tree bark, insects, and flowing streams. I aspire for these textural elements to be reflected in my ever-evolving Wild Gatherings. Thank you for supporting an independent artist, and for taking the time to learn what "handmade" truly means. Shop small. Support independent artists and businesses. Be kind, take care, and fare well.

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Yes, I'm a return (again and again) collector of Shirley's lovely work. My latest purchases are copper oak leaf ornaments, as always beautifully crafted. I bought them for my tree, but they are so charmingly gift-bagged that I may need to consider passing them on to my daughters... Hmmm? :)
I purchased Shirley's Silver Heart earrings. They are made from beautiful vintage silver with an intricate design and a cut out heart. They are my favorite go to earrings.
I purchased the most beautiful miniature pumpkin carriage with intricate scrolled copper wiring and a jeweled enabled coach. I love it so much!
I purchased two switch plates from Wild Gatherings, one for me and one for my daughter. Each different and very unique and beautiful. I consider them a piece of art. Everyone who sees them comments on how lovely. I intend to purchase more in the future for me and for gifts. I love Wild Gatherings, the first place I go when looking for a special gift. Kaye Floyd
This is not my first purchase from Shirley at Wild Gatherings; I can always count on her creativity! Her original designs, materials & attention to detail shine in each piece. Even her packaging is decorative & artful!
The uniqueness of the earrings I purchased is what drew me to them. The enamel colors online do not do these justice they are simply beautiful! Beautifully packaged and shipped quickly. I am a happy customer :)
I have ordered from Wild Gatherings several times and each and every time, I have been impressed with the packaging and the quick turnaround in getting my orders shipped out to me. You won't be disappointed in trusting Shirley with your purchases.
All these one of a kind, beautiful items are never a disappointment. This artist is extremely talented.
I’ve ordered from Wild Gatherings in the past and this order was no different... it was shipped quickly and packed in the sweetest packaging. The craftsmanship of her earrings are amazing. These will be cherished for many years to come.
I absolutely love this sweet little candleholder! Thank you so much, Shirley, for a beautiful piece of vintage!
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