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Artist Highlight: Barrow PDX

Artist Highlight is a new regular blog series where we showcase some of our current favorite artists, from jewelers, painters, musicians, woodworkers and beyond, Artist Highlight gives you an intimate background on some of the people behind your favorite TLE stuff! For this edition we met up with Barrow, two Portland women who make ceramic jewelry.

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I met up with Lindsay and Rachel early in the morning at their pop-up shop at Duplex Gallery in Northwest Portland, iced coffee thoroughly melted already from the walk from TLE’s headquarters downtown. The two women behind Barrow, one of Portland’s newest and impressive jewelry manufacturers, were busy putting the final touches on their displays of porcelain goods.

We spoke about their friendship, which began nearly 10 years ago in their college dorm before they took a spontaneous trip to France together. “We went to France together and I barely knew you” Lindsay said with the sort of realization that comes from a decade of hindsight, “I had totally forgotten… we did do that,” Rachel said, laughing in disbelief. The two solidified their friendship via a love of painting, which they still continue to do today.

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Which makes their gorgeous ceramic and gold-glazed jewelry so impressive. I was shocked to hear the two had only been crafting their pieces for just over a year, though Lindsay is quick to say they “didn’t really kick into gear until this past winter or spring.” Rachel and Lindsay split their production between their two home studios, Rachel being sure to mention “mine is the dusty one.” But the two work in perfect harmony, often finishing each other’s sentences and thoughts. They talk at length about the relief of having a partner to help with roadblocks in the production or ideas process. You can see the passion on their faces when they talk about the things that make their rings, bracelets, and necklaces so unique: each one is individually handmade, each with it’s own variations and imperfections. Rachel explains the technical process of the gold accents that adorn most of their new art, and while a majority of the terms and processes she describes fly directly over my head, I’m enthralled by her passion and excitement for everything ceramic and handmade.

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Considering how new their brand is, I wonder if asking about future plans is too sudden. But they both express excitement at the idea of having a combination space that could serve as both an open studio and storefront — a place where customers could observe the creation process in person and browse a collection of handmade jewelry. I’m sure Portlanders will see many more pop-up shops and local events in the near future with the Barrow ladies and their handcrafted jewelry in attendance. So stop and say hello, you may learn a bit more about porcelain than you thought you’d ever know. And if they offer you mimosas, don’t hesitate to stay a bit longer. Next time I will.

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