Grant Winners Over The Years
2017 Winner: Kristen Baird Jewelry
Congratulations to Kristen Baird of Savannah, Georgia, for winning the 2017 Halstead Grant for design excellence and business strategy. Kristen’s fashion and bridal lines are made using reticulation and ethically-sourced gemstones for a modern take on traditional metalsmithing techniques.
Kristen studied jewelry and metals at Savannah College of Art & Design, is a Graduate Bench Jeweler from the New Approach School of Jewelry Making, and was a Top 5 Finalist for the 2016 Halstead Grant.
Kristen says, “Working on the application and seeing everything from a new perspective has been an eye-opening experience. The time I have taken to study each detail of my business, from operations and personnel to designs and finances, has allowed me to construct the path for my brand and dream even bigger than I ever imagined possible.”
Full of color and texture, Kristen’s designs pay homage to the waters, landscapes and flora of the Southern landscape. As part of Kristen’s commitment to her community, a portion of each sale is donated to local charities.
2016 Winner: ENJI Jewelry Studio by Niki Grandics (San Diego, CA)
Niki Grandics from San Diego is the 2016 Halstead Grant Winner for outstanding jewelry design and business acumen. Niki's modern, edgy accessories are made using
ethical practices and she gives back to the community by partnering with local charities.
Niki was winning national design awards before she even graduated college - most notably, the coveted Windgate Fellowship in 2014. That was also the year she founded ENJI Studios and received degrees in Applied Design and Marketing from San Diego State University. She is a highly-skilled GIA Graduate Jeweler and is a glass artist as well as metalsmith. She was included in the Corning Museum's New Glass Review last year.
Niki says, "I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn from amazing instructors at GIA. In addition to the technical skills of working at the bench, my mentor Mike Turinetti at GIA helps me a lot with navigating life in the industry as a young professional."
"My instructors Seth Papac and Sondra Sherman at SDSU not only encouraged the development of my design aesthetic, they really taught me about the professional side of art jewelry from writing grants and artist statements, to working with galleries, and even helped me get an internship at Galerie Marzee in the Netherlands."
Niki is passionate about using her art to support causes she believes in and believes that part of her responsibility as a modern business is to create a positive change. To that end, she designs pieces that raise money for specific charities as well as donates a portion of sales. She works with the Alliance for Hope International in conjunction with the San Diego Family Justice Center for survivor advocacy through their Voices program, and mentoring for kids and teens through Camp Hope and Pathways to Hope.
2015 Winner: Samantha Skelton Jewelry Design (Fairview, PA)
Congratulations to Samantha Skelton, artist and owner of Samantha Skelton Jewelry Design based in Fairview, Pennsylvania for her design excellence and business strategy acumen.
Samantha studied fine art in undergraduate at Edinboro University and earned an MFA with a focus on metalsmithing from Miami University in 2013. Her business includes custom jewelry, wholesale and gallery consignment in addition to art fairs and online sales.
"I have worked so hard to grow my jewelry design company and being recognized as the 2015 Halstead Grant winner is such an honor. I'm beyond excited! Prior to the application process, I had been working towards small goals. But, being able to see a big picture has really helped me take the next steps forward."
Samantha's jewelry designs are heavily influenced by her training as a metal sculpture artist. She says, "The sculptures I created had an industrial aesthetic and a sense of balance and symmetry, all hand-forged and kinetic. Alongside my sculptures, I found myself making smaller sculptural jewelry, almost as a sketch for larger pieces. It allowed me to play with form in a much faster and more direct way."
2014 Winner: Erica Bello Jewelry (Rochester, NY)
Halstead is proud to announce Erica Bello of Rochester, NY as the winner of the 9th annual national Halstead Grant competition for new silver jewelry makers. She will receive $5,000 in cash and $1,000 in jewelry supplies as part of her prize package.
"I was extremely honored to be chosen as the 2014 Halstead Grant recipient. Writing the grant allowed me to focus my ideas into a cohesive goal. It is an incredible opportunity to be able to put my ideas into motion; I cannot thank them enough."
Erica finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2011 at The Rochester Institute of Technology with high honors. After college she worked as a bench jeweler while she continued to strengthen her customer base for Erica Bello Jewelry. Working for one of the largest national retailers of fine jewelry enhanced her technique, skill, and business knowledge.
Erica's geometric silver jewelry with an oxidized finish can be described as industrial, bold and edgy with a three-dimensional dynamic. This unique metalsmithing work creates contrast with acute angles and semi-precious stones. Her collection is influenced by architecture and traditional jewelry archetypes.Return to Top
2013 Winner: Sculpturings (Davenport, FL)
The latest grant winner is Rebecca Rose of Davenport, Fla. Rose creates Sculpturings — cast rings sculpted from found object components and original elements to interpret social issues or current events.
"Since the Halstead Grant was awarded, I've been asked to exhibit at the 1st International Art Jewellery Biennial at the Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art, and was included as an exhibiting artist at the SELECT Art Fair this December during Art Basel Miami Beach," Rose said.
Rose's work has been shown extensively in galleries throughout Manhattan and Los Angeles — on Madison Avenue and in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood — and has been purchased by a number of private art collectors, including TV producers, fashion designers, Emmy Award-winning actors and Broadway musicians.
Since the grant, "my work has appeared in the famed ‘September issue' of British Vogue, on art blogs, and in magazine interviews, I've been approached for a piece to be worn in a movie, expanded my social media reach and garnered a wider audience," Rose said.
2012 Winner: Susan Elnora (Minneapolis, MN)Susan Elnora from Minneapolis won the grant in 2012 for her collection of urban, rustic silver jewelry. Elnora's work reflects her exploration of the collision of the industrial and natural worlds with American mythology.
"The Halstead Grant seemed to trigger a landslide of good fortune for my business. I have received so much amazing press and recognition from it. It still all seems a bit unreal," Elnora said.
"When I applied for the grant, I thought that participating in a wholesale show would be a great step for my business. When I received the grant, that possibility suddenly became real and I ended up doing both the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia, and the American Craft Council show in Baltimore — both incredible experiences that have led to countless new connections."
Elnora has been profiled on InStoremag.com. Her designs can be found in stores and galleries across the country as well as online at Artful Home, A Mano and ARTprojectA.Return to Top
2011 Winner: Layne Designs (Philadelphia, PA)Philadelphia-based artist Layne Freedline won the 2011 grant for her Layne Designs jewelry line. Freedline's jewelry features unusual gems set in handcrafted sterling silver settings.
"Since winning the grant, my business has gained a lot of momentum creating custom work. Winning the award bolstered my reputation in such a way that people really trust me with their big jobs," Freedline said. "After winning, I was also able to get my foot in the door of the wholesale market by exhibiting at a larger, more costly wholesale venue."
Freedline recently split her business into two branches, adding a line of more casual materials and styles for a budget-friendly price point.
Layne Designs jewelry has appeared in Jewelry Artist Magazine and has been profiled by the Philadelphia Examiner and web sites and blogs including Fire Mountain Gems, Jewelry Observer, Hammermarks and Handmade in PA.
Layne Designs jewelry is available at fine craft shows, in a number of east coast galleries and on the Layne Designs website.Return to Top
2010 Winner: Cowboy's Sweetheart (Boulder, CO)The 2010 grant was awarded to Amy Fortunato of Boulder, Colo., for her Cowboy's Sweetheart jewelry line. Fortunato's sterling silver jewelry is loosely inspired by the American West and includes accents of semi-precious gemstones, copper, pearls and leather.
Not only did the grant money allow her to purchase a new computer and update her website to compete in the Wild West of e-commerce, it gave her a stronger business foothold.
"It has given my little business some street cred, commanding a level of respect in a very saturated market," Fortunato said. "My arm gets tired from switching hats so often, but it is the variety of responsibilities that makes this one-woman operation interesting. I enjoy building relationships with people by doing what I love, and the grant helped to spread that love!"
Cowboy's Sweetheart jewelry can be found on Fortunato's etsy site and has been featured in Southwest Flair magazine and the Boulder and the Beautiful and Daily Camera blogs.Return to Top
2009 Winner: VOSTENAKstudios (Cottonwood, AZ)VOSTENAKstudios creator Valerie Ostenak of Cottonwood, Ariz., won the 2009 grant for her one-of-a-kind statement necklaces, hairpieces and earrings. Ostenak's work is inspired by fluid movement — the way water flows and the way air blows and moves things in the wind.
"What I really love about my work — other than making it makes me very happy — is that it makes others really happy, too. I can see the transformation when someone puts a piece on. They glow. They gleam. They have another light, " Ostenak said.
Ostenak, who works primarily in steel, silver and pearls, has been profiled in British Vogue, National Geographic and Art Jewelry Today. Ostenak's jewelry can be found in galleries in California and Arizona and was showcased by the Maria Elena Kravetz Gallery (Cordoba, Argentina) at the 2103 SSOFA Chicago Show.Return to Top
2008 Winner: Bridgland Studios (Oakland, CA)The team of Jay and Jennifer Bridgland won the 2008 Halstead Grant. Their Bridgland Studios line specializes in conceptual glass couture jewelry. Jay Bridgland creates flameworked glass forms — much like three-dimensional paintings — that are eventually assembled into wearable works of art. The Bridglands say their aim is to redefine the concept of glass artwear and to explore the limitless possibilities of expressing fashion through glass.
"The third dimension — the structure and form — really gives my work its unique quality. In the creation of my jewelry, the structure and form of the individual components and the detail required to create each bead is critical," said Jay, who also teaches in and heads the glass flameworking department at The Crucible School of Fire Arts in Oakland.
Bridgland Studios jewelry was honored with a prestigious NICHE Award in 2010 and is sold at a number of museums and galleries across the country and in Europe.Return to Top
2007 Winner: Belle Brooke Designs (Los Angeles, CA)Artist Belle Brooke Barer won the 2007 grant while she was an artist in Los Angeles. Now based in Taos, N.M., her Belle Brooke Designs focuses on traditionally fabricated jewelry with an emphasis on craftsmanship. The look, she says, is a mix of modern, organic and geometric — with a nod to art deco designs.
Barer said the Halstead Grant gave her a boost of confidence and really started the ball rolling in the right direction. "The press was fantastic and I was able to take it to the next level once I had this special ‘seal of approval' from being a grant winner."
Since winning the grant, Belle Brooke Jewelry has been featured in a number of magazines, including MJSA/Journal, InDesign, JCK, and Jewelry Artist. Barer won the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award in 2008 and was the first place winner of the prestigious AGTA Spectrum Award in 2012.Return to Top
2006 Winner: Ananda Khalsa Jewelry (Providence, RI)
Ananda Khalsa was Halstead's first grant winner in 2006. The jewelry she creates in her Northampton, Mass., studio incorporates sterling silver and 22k gold, precious stones and tiny paintings. Khalsa captures the precious quality found in ancient jewelry, while creating work with a modern and wearable sensibility.
Since winning the inaugural Halstead grant, Khalsa has been profiled in Marie Claire magazine and as one of Martha Stewart's "Dreamers into Doers." Ananda Khalsa Jewelry is sold in galleries, shops, prestigious art shows and artist cooperatives around the country.
"It always amazes me how many different kinds of people wear my work," Khalsa said of her customers. "I feel very lucky for that. I think people who appreciate symbolism and see jewelry as more then just an object — perhaps in a more talismanic way — are attracted to the work."Return to Top
Sponsor: Halstead Bead Inc. (Prescott, AZ)
The grant sponsor is a jewelry supply wholesaler that has served the trade since 1973. Halstead Bead Inc. specializes in sterling silver findings, chain, wire and beads. The firm also carries a broad line of other jewelry making items including gold filled and pewter components, crystal beads, tools, beading cables and more.