Inspire Me: Tracey Kessler

We're very excited to kick off Summer in our little home of Sausalito with the return of the monthly Sausalito Art Walk. Our May featured artist is local talent Tracey Kessler. We asked Tracey a few questions to delve into her work, her story and what inspires her.

Visit us on May 10th, 4-8 pm for artist's reception. Meet Tracey, view her work, peruse jewels and join us for some bubbly and treats! We will also be offering 10% off all jewels during Art Walk.


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"In my work, layered abstractions are born and transformed by nature's elements of wind, rain, sunlight and time. I explore the circumstances of life through a diversity of media, textures and gestures, which imbue my compositions with vitality and a sense of motion. My work mediates between turbulence and joy. As layers of material are melded and molded by hand and time, the beauty of our daily path is revealed."


1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background in design? Without having that background, do you think you would've found painting? Or was one necessary to lead to the next?  

My background is in architecture, interior design and conservation.  My first job in the field was with Gwathmey Siegel in New York, one of the New York Five Architects.  This started to develop my eye for modern design and looking at art collections.  I painted all through college at FIT including working on and restoring 17th century paintings in Spain.  I started to show in the early '90s in New York but then my design career took precedence.  It wasn't until 2010 that I started painting full time again after returning to the Bay Area and living in Marin.  I don't think a design or art background is necessary if you are a talented or a gifted painter.  I've seen plenty of people who have advanced greatly after practice, practice, practice and there are others who are just naturally gifted.  I'm somewhere in between there.  My work is often mixed-media abstract but on occasion some series are more realistic or conceptual.

2. What is it about the Bay Area that lured you in? How do you find that it guides your creative work?   

My sister had moved here after college in 1997 and I came for a visit.   I had already been in Manhattan for about 10 years and was craving something new, different and a calmer pace.  Though I had always visited the Los Angeles area, I didn't know what the Bay Area was about or that San Francisco was such a great city.  I took the leap after being in Philadelphia for a few years and it completely changed my life.  Then after living in San Francisco for 10 years and having an Interior Design firm, I accidentally found myself in Marin (with the exception of a return to New York for two years) and the various natural elements seeped into my work.  I can see the elements of the fog, mountains, pacific ocean and open spaces working into my paintings through textures, colors, lines and palettes.

3. We used your studio space for a photo shoot last year and found it to be a very beautiful and interesting space! How important do you think it is for an artist or designer to have a creative space that is visually inspiring?  

Extremely important for the creative space to be your quiet sanctuary, think tank and private world.   Mine is fairly orderly and  I'm usually working on two or three paintings at a time.  I'm in a compound on Gate 5 Road that has a ceramic co-op, three other painters, a woodshop and a jewelry designer.  We also have about 5 dogs at any given time running about.  We are just like the young tech companies but in an outdoor environment with beautiful gardens and vistas around us.

4. I've noticed a shift of color palette in your most recent work. Is this something that evolves naturally over time or do you make a conscious decision to alter how you are approaching your fine art? 

I think my palettes shift slightly over time very subtley.  It's mostly earthy palettes and tones with a pop of color here and there.  I've noticed pink and light blue so much in my work since moving to Sausalito and think it's due to the sunsets.  The dusk scenes with the marina or Mt. Tam in the background are postcard worthy for sure.  It sounds so cliche but this area really does seep into the subconscious mind.

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, leaving tomorrow, where would you go?  

Probably Positano, Italy as I love the Almalfi coast so much so that would be my first choice but second would probably be Greece as I still have not been there.  It is interesting living in a vacation spot for so many as it becomes  your daily routine but I'll never take this little seaside town for granted.  It beats the 6 train in New York any day.  (though I do miss the pulse and art scene of New York)

6. We love the quirky little town of Sausalito that both you and I call home. Do you have a favorite beach/activity/restaurant/etc that curious visitors should add to their list of things to do while visiting?  

I take the dog out to Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands which has incredible views and a great hike.  Tennessee Valley trail is another wonderful hike.  I enjoy the mussels at Le Garage a lot and since I designed the light fixtures at F3 during my interior design days, I tend to stop in there for a wine and the cheese plate.  Their brunch is tasty as well.  The eggs benedict with a fried green tomato is to die for!  The lobster bisque at Seafood Peddler is another favorite and having a prosecco on the back terrace of the Barrel House is pretty spectacular for views.  I've also starting working with a San Francisco company called If only, which offers extraordinary experiences to do alone or in a group.  I so looking forward to meeting more travelers coming to the Bay Area.  

7. Can you tell us about the work you'll be showing for the art walk.

These are mixed-media and oil paintings that I've worked on since moving to Sausalito in 2015.  You can see the various shapes that I believe are Mt. Tam, tides, rocks, various elements in and around the houseboats and my softer color palate. I tend to built up the canvas by adding and subtracting layers of paint over a period of time until the painting starts to visualize and I can see the composition come through.  This is the surprising dance while painting abstractly.  It can be not-working and going horribly wrong and then with the next layer of paint-- an incredible surprise of its "just right" seems to happen!  It's deciding when to stop and not take a painting too far that is the challenge.

Thank you, Tracey! If you're unable to make it to the show opening on May 10th, Tracey's work will be on display until June 13th.

Gift Guide: Mother's Day

Somehow it's already April, and that means Mother's Day is just around the corner. 

Fortunately, we happen to have some gift suggestions for a special mum in your life.

If she's bold...


...or daring


If she's a dreamer...


...or an adventurer


If she likes a bit of sparkle...


...but still appreciates the little things


If she's unique... of a kind


And whether she prefers the ocean...


...or the mountains

Happy Mother's Day!

School Me: How to Put on a Cuff Bracelet

Cuff bracelets are one of our favorite accessories. These stylish pieces are easy to wear: there's no need to worry about a clasp, closure or ordering the wrong size.

Diamond Rustic Cuff Bracelets

While cuff bracelets are meant to be lightly adjusted, repeatedly stretched and compressed metal can wear over time, not to mention diamonds can pop out! To avoid weakening your treasure, we've come up with an easy guide to adjusting and loving your cuff.

Before putting these bracelets on for the first time, take a look at the side of your wrist. Find the narrowest part on the thumb-side: this is where your cuff will slide on.

Very, very gently stretch the two ends apart, just wide enough to fit over the most delicate part of your wrist.

Turn the cuff sideways, and slide it on, turning your arm into the bracelet until it's correctly positioned.

Rustic Cuff Bracelets

To make it tighter, put your whole hand over the bracelet (so that you don't weaken one spot), and squeeze just enough so that it won't slide off. Be sure you can still slip it back off the side of your wrist, reversing the process.

You shouldn't need to adjust your cuff again, which will give it a much longer life. 


Betsey & Iya have a great video showing this technique. Sometimes a picture (or moving pictures) are worth a thousand words!



Currently Coveting: Geode Home Accessories

Geodes look like plain, weathered rocks on the outside, but hiding underneath are shimmering crystals.

They often begin their lives as bubbles in volcanic rock. Over time, minerals form on the inside of the hollow shell, growing toward the center.

Geodes can be found throughout the world, including in California, the American Southwest and several Midwestern states.

These irresistible treasures have been popping up in home decor-form more and more.

From coasters to planters and art to coffee tables, geodes and geode slices are a versatile way to incorporate natural elements into your home.

Cacti + geodes make for the perfect earthy vibe. 

We suggest Rab Labs if you have a generous budget. We also got some good results searching terms like "geode" or "agate" on home decor sites such as wayfair. If you're a sucker for a little DIY project, purchase some geodes and simple home decor items, grab a glue gun and have some fun. Oh, and Ebay! Don't forget Ebay.

Happy decorating!

School Me: Why Are Montana Sapphires So Special?

We usually associate sapphires with a deep, clear blue. Surprisingly they can be found in a rainbow of hues, including pink, orange, green, yellow and even multi-color. 

These gems are mined everywhere from Australia to Colombia and Madagascar to Nepal. However, the state of Montana is home to more varieties of sapphire than any other location in the world. Strict guidelines for mining in the states means that Montana sapphires have much less of an impact on the Earth than stones from nearly anywhere else.

Mostly found in the western half of the state, these gorgeous gems are famous for their rich and unusual colors. Yogo sapphires (found specifically in the Yogo gulch area) are generally cornflower blue in color, while others from different regions of Montana trend towards interesting blue-greens, violet-grays and even bicolor or with color shifts (these are our favorites)!

Montana sapphires were originally found by mid-19th century gold prospectors who headed out west in search of a fortune. Initially they were so focused on the gold that they often threw aside the sapphires. 

In fact, the prospectors even complained about the gems plugging up their pans are they sifted in search of gold.  

Most of the sapphire mining done in Montana is very small scale compared to other locations, making it difficult to find consistent sizes and colors of rough from which to cut a stone. The great part about this for consumers? Choosing a Montana sapphire makes your stone that much more unique and rare. Who knew that some of the most exotic treasures in the world were right in our own backyard.

We love sourcing these gorgeous specimens for clients to use in projects-just ask!



Dream Locale: Jewelry Rooms at the Victoria & Albert Museum

While London is full of treasures, a small series of faintly-lit rooms in the Victoria & Albert Museum is home to the best collection around.

With more than 3,000 pieces of jewelry spanning 3,000 years of history, it's known as one of the best, most comprehensive displays of jewels in the world. 

This museum of art and design claims pieces by 140 designers, ranging from Ancient Greece to 2017. Jewels worn by some of history's best-dressed women catch your eye as you wander through. In fact, it can be difficult to know where to focus your gaze. 

See an amazing mix of diamond Cartier tiaras, golden sword handles, delicate designs by Fabergé and Lalique and contemporary pieces made from titanium, paper and acrylic. 

Perhaps the most stunning feature, despite its tough competition, is a large spiral of rings--all set with colored stones. The collection belonged to just one man, a friend of Charles Dickens. The mesmerizing swirl is arranged by the hardness of the stones: beginning in the center with diamonds.

While you can explore the collections online, we recommend that any jewelry lover add an actual visit to their bucket list.  

Currently Coveting: Diane Tate DallasKidd Wall Hangings

Recently we were lucky enough to meet super talented artist Diane Tate DallasKidd at an open studio event in Sausalito. Since then, it's been impossible to stop dreaming of her ethereal wall hangings.

Born and raised in San Francisco, DallasKid studied textile art in the Bay Area before furthering her education in Japan. While there, she studied under a fourth-generation dyer, and learned to use traditional techniques to create pieces for high end designers.

The textured pieces are inspired by both urban and rural landscapes, and have been displayed across the U.S. and Japan.

Often times the design process begins with a feeling, rather than a vision of the final product.

We can't help but be inspired by these delicate, multi-dimensional designs.

Love Story: Nick & Ilah Rose

One great thing about this industry is being able to contribute, even in a small way, to someone's love story. 

Recently we were lucky enough to work with customers Nick and Ilah Rose to create the perfect custom ring

Image courtesy of Jess Hunter Photo

The 18k yellow gold piece is set with white diamonds and a gorgeous Montana sapphire. These special gems usually come from the western side of what is known as "The Treasure State."

Nick & Ilah worked closely with Sarah to capture the right vibe: looking upwards to celestial bodies for inspiration. Elements of the sun, moon, stars and universe influenced this dreamy design.

For Sarah, work like this is special, " One of the most exciting aspects of making jewelry is embarking on a custom project." 

"I get the greatest satisfaction when I see a client's eyes light up upon revealing the finished product of their vision."

Image courtesy of Jess Hunter Photo

Congrats Nick & Ilah Rose!