SILVERSMITH

DINA | No 9 METAL

Desert Mama- Who is Dina and where can we find her? Tell us about yourself:

Dina- Good question… I’m a passionate greek, italian, new englander, who sticks to her guns & maybe is too headstrong in pursuing whatever the hell you want to do! (For me that changes often!) I’ve never felt afraid to just go for it, we are here indefinitely. Do everything you can now!

I don’t really know where you can find me, ha…! In the past three years I’ve moved close to twenty times. I do environmental work that uproots me once to twice a year. I lived in Vegas for a year and was in love… I kinda think I am Vegas. I’m currently in Idaho, and its wild side excites me. I´ve lived a few seasons in California and Oregon as well, but, in my head, when I sit down and meditate on things, I’m flying through the desert looking for rocks and melting metal. That´s where I am…

DM- How and when did the love for designing jewelry come about? Did you learn to do it all by yourself?

D- You know this is funny. I was talking to my grandma recently, and as a kid, we would drive my grandfather´s 1962 Chevy Impala to car shows in Massachusetts. I apparently used to bring a bucket of beads and walk around making all the older ladies necklaces and bracelets.

But I always inherently remember an interest. When I was in highschool I used to make copper earrings, and always gravitated to jewelry makers at Vermont farmer’s markets.

I actually found a program through a friend from the music scene back east. I was about finished with a job in the Eastern Sierra & this makerspace up in Portland, Oregon was looking for someone to trade work time for studio time. So I packed up my life * that was/is * just a few boxes, drove up the Pacific Coast Highway, and thought I was the coolest 25 year old there was. When I got up that way, the program lasted about 3 weeks, then the whole space went bankrupt. This theme in my life has played many times over…haha but, they sold me some tools on the cheap, and I had a taste of one of the first things in my life that I could just not stop thinking about.

From there on out, wherever I’ve moved since, I’ve just made it work renting sketchy shop spaces for a month, peoples garages, Forest Service barracks. I just never stopped.

DM- What inspires you, and what other artists currently working do you admire?

D- This is a hard one. A lot of people say nature, I don’t know if nature inspires me. I mean it does, I mean I love rockhounding, I guess I’m
spoiled because I’ve worked outside my whole life…

I think what inspires me is literally just this urge in me to never stop, or really a guilt to never be lazy. I get angry or sad or happy and I just want to sit down and make something. And I really dig fire.

I’m inspired by driving through the nothingness of the desert and looking out to the mountains knowing that turquoise has cooked inside them over an unfathomable amount of years. And then! Being able to wear earth’s beautiful history around with you everyday, I’m inspired that people like my work. 

As for other artists that inspire me, there’s a lot. I’ve been a part of a lot of gem and mineral societies. 

There are a lot of people on instagram for sure, but my most meaningful connections have been hopping in a car, and wandering into old rock and jewelry stores throughout the west.

The most inspiring connection I’ve ever made was with an old woman in Tombstone, AZ. Her husband used to climb down into mine shafts and pull out azurite and turquoise, and she would work her butt off 7 days a week framing them in magical sterling frames. I hope to be like her one day.

Oh and one more, my grandfather. He is an amazing artist, his home in Western Massachusetts was featured in Better Homes and Gardens. It was a time piece out of the 1700s, he fixed up a 250 year old barn, and was a colonial antique dealer. He had blacksmithed door handles, and the most beautiful garden you’ve ever seen.

DM- Show us your best work by now and tell us why you love it:

D- I love these guys, this was my ‘Nevada Sunset’ collection. I found all these layers of stones in their respective homes throughout southern Nevada. I can even remember what washes or mountains they laid underneath when I picked them up. I slabbed up each stone on a huge rock saw, cut them into smaller pieces, and created these inlays. Then set them into their respective sterling silver picture frames.

At that time I was working out of the Southern Nevada Gem and Mineral Society’s shop. It was fun, I was the youngest person there. Everyone would be so stoked on what they found, where they found it, and what it was about to become after a few hours of grinding away at it.

DM- The part you love the most of what you do, and the worst part:

D- I just love that jewelry can have so many different meanings, and connections, and how it travels and creates history with the wearer. I like how I can travel the world doing it, I love mining history, and overall just how you can continue to learn something new and never learn it all. It´s an adventure and journey that continually excites me everyday.

Another cool thing to think of is where your pieces are now, and the lives they live with their owners. Ha! So cool.

I’d say the worst part is the business side. I hate instagram, I think it´s toxic, artificial, and if Frank Zappa were alive to see it he would be pretty disgusted. It’s for sure cool to be able to connect with people anywhere in the world, but the whole marketing yourself thing is for sure not my jam. That being said 98% of the online metalsmithing community are super rad and supportive. 

DM- What do you like to convey with your art?

DTo touch on something before I touch on the question… Haha. I don’t look at my work as art, I’ve never thought of myself as an artist.

That being said, when I see my work, I guess I’d like to convey that anything is possible, and that connections that run strong and deep are the most important.

I think your following is something that comes when you finally have confidence with what you’re putting out there. Your time, interest, passion, and knowledge are worth so much. Nothing comes overnight, so, mostly, persistence, passion, and an adventurous spirit.

DM- If you had to choose, which gemstone is your favorite?

D- I’d have to say my favorite kind of stone is one that I’ve found, or have a connection with. Like, I have a huge collection of Turquoise that I got from the man who owns the Royston Mine in Tonopah, Nevada. I drove all the way to his house and hung out with him in his backyard and we shot the shit about Turquoise for 2 hours. So something along those lines, connection.

But otherwise yeah, Turquoise, I really dig inlays, Montana Agate, Watermelon Tourmaline. I’m hoping to dive more into gold and semi precious stones soon, Ruby and Emeralds.

DM- Where and how would you like to see yourself 10 years from now?

D- Better question is where will I be two months from now? To be honest, with how wild I’ve been, it´s still been hard for me to let go of this idea of a ‘career.’  I recently moved to Idaho to be trained to do aerial survey work. I thought that could be my future, but COVID got in there and ruined that, atleast, for this season. (I did get up in the air and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done…)

I’d love to teach people, even just education on quality work and stones. I’ve had ideas of taking people out to the desert to rockhound, and then make them custom wears.

This winter I’ll be going back east to revamp my grandfather´s 1997 Ford F350 &  it´s respective truck camper. I’d like to have a mobile studio for when the urge hits me to run. I’d like to set up a little ‘tour’ circuit of markets and festivals to hit, but I’ve always wanted a homestead.

Dream big but a place far in the mountains and a store in the Las Vegas’s arts district sound like a dream to me…

DM- Your happiest childhood memory:

D- Hard one. Art class was huge, playing with a family of toads I kept in my backyard.

Good thing I didn’t grow up out west, because I used to love lighting shit on fire. Pumpkin picking, listening to the Beatles with my grandfather, his 1790 colonial house in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

Playing in the old stonewalls from the 1700s in the woods. The beach in Maine. Hanging out with my grandparents.

DM- Your best quality and your worst defect:

D- Best quality, I go after everything I want with no fear.

Worse defect, I can’t make up my fucking mind or make a decsion for the life of me.

DM- How is a perfect day in your life:

D- I’ll give you the out west version and the back east version.

East: I’m with my family at our cabin in Maine in July. Day includes walking the beach I grew up on, skimboarding and some starfish. Then headed to (the original and best) Portland, and slurping down oysters and eating lobster. Go home to the best clam chowder that can only be made by my dad.

West: Waking up in a tent in a sagebrush filled foothill. Hopping on a touring bike, hitting up some hot springs, getting dust in my eyes, and
finding some dope ass rocks. Then maybe coming back to a mobile jewelry set up.

DM- A success and a failure:

D- Ya know, I’ve pursued everything I’ve ever wanted to do in my life.

I worked in the music industry, worked for the Park System and Forest Service, learned how to work with metal, learned how to work lapidary machines so, I’m persistent, hardworking, and fearless.

I think strength comes from failures. When I look at some of the shit I’ve been through the past decade, I for sure wouldn’t be as cool if I hadn’t made those mistakes and healed from those scars. I’ve always done everything with all of my heart, love, work, and following my dreams. I don’t regret or think I’ve failed at anything.

RECOMMENDATIONS

– A phrase: «Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!» -Hunter S Thompson

– A film: They live.

– A song: I’ll give you my favorite musical artists instead. In no specific order: Waylon Jennings, Primus, Ween, Frank Zappa, Wanda Jackson

– A drink: Thai boba tea, iced green tea.

– A book: Still Life with Woodpecker.

– A city: Las Vegas, Nevada or Portland, Maine.

WHAT DOES DINA PREFER?

  • Ten years in a coma / Ten years in jail
  • City life / Country life (a combination of the two)
  • Talking to animals /  Talking to the dead
  • Having more time / Having more money 
  • A good book / A good movie
  • Constantly winter / Constantly summer 
  • Only being able to whisper / Only being able to scream
  • Lifetime free wifi / Lifetime free coffee 
  • Only eating salty food/ Only eating sweet food
  • Music concert / Theater play
  • Something organized / Something improvised
  • Visiting the past / Visiting the future
  • To be unable to see / To be unable to hear 
  • Reality / Fiction
  • Never leaving your city / Not being able to return (Is this a fear? My
    biggest fear is not being free. I’ll probably never return to my communities back in Vermont. So, not being able to leave is terrifying!)
  • Continuing with your life / Restarting your life 
  • Knowing what you will die of / Knowing what day you will
  • Waking up in a desert / In a boat in the middle of the Ocean