Tags Posts tagged with "Nettie Kent"

Nettie Kent

Colin Ruel and Nettie Kent got married last weekend. – Photo courtesy of Colin Ruel

Last Thursday, my husband and I beat the rain to the Island, making our way home from NYC through awful bouts of thunderstorms. So just a reminder to be safe in the bad weather — we passed close to 20 accidents, adding two hours to the drive!

When I went to the bank on Friday and saw all the doors open to the CCC, I wandered over to peek in at the preparations for the wedding of Barbara and John Armstrong’s son, artist Colin Ruel, to native West Tisbury jeweler Nettie Kent, daughter of artist Doug Kent. I do not know any of the family, but had seen Barbara’s offer for free tulle on MV Stuff for Sale. The bride and groom were doing everything themselves, with the help of those nearest and dearest, putting finishing touches on transforming the CCC into a tulle-festive hall, while the entrance area was set up with tables for a buffet using an assortment of unique antique plates borrowed from friends. “Oh my, only 24 hours until the wedding,” the bride sighed, and then returned to her to-do list. I hope grandparents Jim and Roberta Morgan, all 200 family and guests, and bride and groom had a fantastic wedding outside in Menemsha, followed by a joyous evening of dancing and celebration.

So glad to be able to continue swimming, seeing the leaves change and still have the sun warming my face when I wonder whether it will be the last swim of the season.

Have you ever thought about those ads that seem to follow you around the Internet and wondered who else is keeping track of your online activities? Come to the Chilmark Public Library on Saturday, October 25, at 1 pm to hear the explanation, when Internet security expert Greg Page presents “Who’s Tracking You Online? The Quiet ‘Big Data Revolution.’” During this interactive presentation, Page will talk about the positive, negative, and uncertain implications of the era of Big Data, including critical issues surrounding individual privacy and security. He will also discuss ways that individual web users can minimize their online footprint.

Support the MVRHS Minnesingers Silent and Live Auction Benefit, Saturday, October 25, 6–9 pm, at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs. Tickets available at the door are $25 and include hors d’oeuvres, chowder bar, desserts and cash bar.

If you have an Island Club Card, you can get a discount on any activity at the Farm Field Sea, Island Culinary Adventure taking place Saturday and Sunday, October 25 and 26, in Menemsha and Chilmark. Be sure to check out Sunday’s cheese making class with Jacqueline Foster, head cheese maker at Grey Barn Farm and explore the history and process of cheese making. Demonstrations and hands-on class will include Ricotta Salata, Farmers’ Cheese, and how to build your own cheese cave. For more information or to reserve your spot, go to ffsmv.com or email eat@ffsmv.com.

The Farmer’s Market has moved indoors to the Ag Hall and will continue every Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm through December 27, except for Thanksgiving weekend. I am happy to report Josh Aronie and The Food Truck should appear beginning in November; I’ll keep you posted or you can follow them on Facebook.

The Rural Scholars from from UMass School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Nursing will be on the Island from October 19 through 30 taking a closer look at elder abuse and neglect, prevention strategies, and current services. They will present their findings and  recommendations at a meeting at the West Tisbury Public Library on Thursday, October 30, from 4:30 to 6 pm. The public is invited and encouraged to join in.

Middeltown Nursery will have a free garlic planting demo on Saturday, October 25 from 10 -11am.  Bring your garlic, questions and curiosity. A free family fun day including scarecrow making will follow from 11am – 2 pm.

Though jewelry artist Nettie Kent will always stay connected to her West Tisbury roots, she is a Brooklyn girl now. — Photo by Gwyn McAllister

Jeweler Nettie Kent has the eye of an artist and the inquisitive nature of a scientist. She likes to know as much as possible about her materials, and in crafting her unique metal, leather, and raw gem jewelry, she keeps in mind both style and substance and makes every effort to use sustainable materials and practices.

Now living in Brooklyn, Ms. Kent, a West Tisbury native, has a small, thriving business. She works out of a studio near her home and sells to a number of boutiques and shops in the New York area and other spots throughout the country.

Jewelry by Nettie Kent from her new look book.
Jewelry by Nettie Kent from her new look book.

While sustainability issues may not be something most people would think about in jewelry making, Ms. Kent has found that there are many ways of both sourcing materials and crafting the finished products that are ethical and eco-minded. But that has taken a fair amount of research.

For example, she has all of her metal casting done by a small, family-run business that works with chemical-free practices, and she does all of her own finishing work by hand. She buys minerals from a former old-time miner in Colorado and crushes them herself in a mortar and pestle to create beautiful pieces that have a rough look with just enough sparkle and shine.

Having been born and raised on the Vineyard, it’s not surprising that Ms. Kent both respects and loves nature. Her designs are often informed by the natural world and her shapes and textures tend to have a raw, organic feel to them.

Ms. Kent’s 2014 spring line is called Seven Sisters — named for the star cluster also known as the Pleiades. “The constellation was used a lot in agriculture,” Ms. Kent said. “Farmers would determine planting seasons by it.” Some of the pieces in the collection are named after women in mythology, i.e. Camilla, an Amazonian warrior. Others have appropriately celestial references, such as True North.

Ms. Kent works almost exclusively with highly polished brass, which has the shine and color of gold but is affordable. She carves the wax into a model, then it is made into a mold from that wax carving.

Rather than using the more common process of chemical cleaning, Ms. Kent painstakingly finishes each piece by hand: saws off the sprues, tumbles the items with different grits, and gives a finishing polish. “It’s so much work,” she said, but taking the easy way out is not an option for her. According to Ms. Kent’s website, “Our work is a culmination of organic forms, unique designs and an ethical approach to jewelry making that emphasizes sustainable design and sourcing recycled materials.”

A cuff made by Nettie Kent.
A cuff made by Nettie Kent.

Many of the new pieces include a setting of rough gemstones. Ms. Kent purchases chunks of black tourmaline, a black sparkly gemstone, and undyed lapis, which has a light blue color, and grinds them down into a sort of sparkly gravel that is then set into rings, earrings, cuff bracelets, and pendants. The finished pieces benefit from the brilliance of the stone but have the look of minerals in their natural state. The bright bronze settings show off the crushed gems to full advantage.

Arrow-shaped outlines play a big part in the new line and are featured in bold necklaces, wrap-around rings, bracelets, and large earrings. The shapes combine the symmetrical lines of geometrics with a rough, hammered look. The young artist’s work can be described as a mix of ancient artifact and urban modern.

Growing up in West Tisbury as the daughter of popular local artist Doug Kent, she was immersed in the art world at a young age. “I always thought that I would be a painter,” she said. “I guess that’s only natural growing up in my dad’s studio.” After dabbling in theater, Ms. Kent decided to pursue the visual arts. She attended Hampshire College in western Massachusetts where she focused on public art. She painted murals in Holyoke and eventually travelled to Mexico to study mural painting and pottery, and to Italy to learn fresco painting techniques. However, she never felt entirely comfortable with painting. “I was terrible at being alone in my studio,” she said. “I just wasn’t doing the right art.”

It wasn’t until she settled in New York City that she discovered her true passion. She spent some time working for nonprofits around the city, doing “inner city, save-the-world type work,” as she refers to it. “It was amazing. I had some good times and some terrible times. Within a year I was burned out.” Ms. Kent landed a job working in retail for jeweler Jill Platner. “Every chance that I got at that point I hung around production,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is so cool. Working with metal and fire.’”

She took some courses in wax casting, started experimenting on her own, and apprenticed with other jewelers. “I threw myself into the jewelers’ scene here. I got to become acquainted with the business — things like who the casters are. I brought what knowledge I had back to the Vineyard. It was so cool surfing, landscaping, connecting with nature.”

What was intended to be a short break turned into an extended stay. However, Ms. Kent had the time to experiment and hone her skills in jewelry making. After three years, she and her boyfriend, Colin Ruel, decided to relocate to Brooklyn. Mr. Ruel, who had made a name for himself as a musician, decided to refocus his creativity into his work as a painter. The couple now share a studio close to their apartment in Brooklyn.

“I came here with a mission,” she said. “I decided that I’m not moving back to New York not to make it happen. If you’re going to be here you’ve got to hustle.”

So far her hard work is paying off, and she has gained a loyal following. Her work can found in a number of outlets and on her website, nettiekent.com. Recently she and a handful of other fashion designers and jewelers rented a space in the West Village and set up a pop-up shop and small trade show for one month. The experience was positive. Ms. Kent was able to form relationships with new stores and gain new customers.

She is very happy with her new community in Brooklyn where she has connected with a number of other artists and designers devoted to sustainable design. However, Ms. Kent maintains a strong connection to the Vineyard and her work reflects her rural roots. As it says on her website, “Summers on the beach and winters in Brooklyn influence all of Nettie’s designs.”

On the Vineyard, Ms. Kent’s work can be found at The Green Room in Vineyard Haven.