The art of organic casting is an ancient one, and it’s one that local artist Liz Stingl has revolutionized, taking a real part of northwoods Wisconsin and transforming it into a beautiful, wearable, piece of fine art.
This year, Stingl celebrates her 10th year of her business, Casual Ore Formal – named for her jewelry that walks the line between casual and formal. The UW-Eau Claire grad began making jewelry when she was 19 years old in the midst of the Great Recession.
I'm so glad I went for it. I did not know how hard it was going to be, and I'm really glad that I didn't. But I'm Really glad that I did it.
“I’m at the bench for a week, and I’m like, I love the jewelry bench so much,” she said. “I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.”
She threw caution to the wind and took a chance on her passion.
“I’m so glad I went for it,” she reflected. “I did not know how hard it was going to be, and I’m really glad that I didn’t. But I’m really glad that I did it.”
Her first studio was in her neighbor’s garage, but she later transitioned to a studio space in downtown Eau Claire, where she watched its development from her window. “(Those were) very formative years for downtown Eau Claire,” she said, “with when they were growing and everything. It’s right when the Lismore Hotel (was under renovation) in 2015 and talk of the Pablo Center at the Confluence was happening. I literally watched the development of that from my penthouse windows, just quietly there, working away.”
After graduating, she attended the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina, where she refined her trade and developed her successful line – the Wisconsin Birch Bark Jewelry. At Pennland, she learned it takes seven years to find your niche, and 10 years to become proficient or professional in your craft. In 2011, she launched her company. In 2018, she launched her birch bark creations. She hit the mark perfectly.
“I gravitated toward the Birch Bark because I just love the twists and turns of the bark itself,” she said, “and I love being able to capture that and transform it into a piece of fine art.”
The jewelry is made by reinforcing real birch bark from Wisconsin with wax, then creating a mold. The birch is burned out in a kiln, leaving a negative space of where the birch bark once was. Stingl injects liquid metal into that space, which she reinforces with oxidized sterling silver or 14 carat gold, highlights, and then sets with sapphires. “The stuff that I make, I want it to make 500 years plus, is my goal,” she said. “So I want to start and work with quality, durable materials, to not only get a positive, quality end product, but also one that will last through the ages and be timeless.”
EXPLORING THE VERSATILITY OF BIRCH BARK
Oct. 1-Oct. 30
This one-of-a-kind show features local artists and their work using natural birch bark as an art medium. Artists include Liz Stingl (jewelry), Thomas Stingl (glass), Sandy Anderson (3D and bowls), Schaefer/Miles File Art (painting), Aubrey Hogan (3D), Karen Bejin (watercolor), and Bill Bejin (3D). Check out the artist reception on Friday, Oct. 1, from 5-7pm.
VIP Event: Introduction to Sapphires & Birch Bark Jewelry
Thursday Oct. 21
1:30pm and 6:30pm
Metalsmith Liz invites you to learn more about Sapphires and the specialized Birch Bark Jewelry making process. Evening event is 21+. There will be a sapphire expert onsite as a guest speaker to discuss the origins of stone, its varieties, and more.
Chef Rebecca Flynn of Sweet Driver Chocolates will provide sweet & savory refreshments paired with alcoholic beverages during the evening event, and coffee & tea.
View the event and buy tickets: