Denise Harrison, founder of Sterling Echoes, creates memorable sterling silver jewelry that begins with the inspiration of a photograph, drawing or an empty glass of beer. Harrison’s jewelry capture’s memories, either her own or her customers, in a piece of jewelry. That favorite photo, a memorable piece of architecture, finger prints and even pets can be captured forever in a wearable piece of art.
“For me, the fun is not in just the event, but the memories to look back upon. Reminding me of the event, the place or the people I was with. Sterling Echoes gives me the opportunity to solidify my memories, or those of my customers, into my work,” Harrison said.
In creating her unique custom jewelry Harrison has developed a multi-step process for transferring memories to jewelry.
“My work begins with a photograph of someplace or something I find interesting. This can be a building, a tree or even my empty pint glass. The photo is modified and etched into copper which is used to texture wax pieces that are cast into sterling and gold,” Harrison said.
When Harrison selects a subject for a piece of jewelry the meaning behind the photo and the story it tells is most important.
“Technically speaking, images with a fair amount of contrast and texture make my job easier. In order to etch an image, I have to convert it to just black and white. That is why my beer photographs are so much fun. There is a dark background with a light foreground and amazing organic textures,” Harrison said.
For Harrison, accurately capturing a person’s memories on a piece of jewelry is a responsibility she takes very seriously.
“I have at least ninety images that I have etched in my collection so I am pretty good at judging a photo as soon as I see it. If it is a custom order, I explain to my customer what composition makes for the best outcome and often they will provide me with several photos to choose from. I work closely with my customers during each step of the process before I cast the final pieces so they can make changes at any point along the way,” Harrison said.
Family history, personal connections and documenting memories continuously inspire Harrison to create her jewelry. Following the passing of her grandmother, Harrison created a bangle bracelet with family member’s fingerprints as a gift to her daughter to remember the people whose fingerprints were on the bracelet.
Shortly after, her friend returned from the Grand Canyon and asked Harrison to create something special to document the trip. Harrison made four medallions from their personal images and added a handmade chain.
“These two experiences strengthened my belief of the importance of connections and relationships and our personal stories. I realized documenting these stories in jewelry was something I wanted to do full time,” Harrison said.
True to her commitment to personal connections and family, a portion of Harrison’s jewelry sales go to charity. Her Aloha Series sales benefit Alzheimer’s in honor of her stepfather who was diagnosed with the disease.
Whether the jewelry captures memories of a magical place in time or a memory of a loved one Harrison’s passion keeps each alive and well in a wearable piece of art and history.
“I create pieces that my customers are drawn to because they have had similar experiences or have traveled to similar locations. A piece may not be an exact replica of the photograph, but evokes the feeling of the moment which makes an impact on us,” Harrison said.
A sampling of Harrison’s work is available at The Workhouse in Bend and is available by appointment at her studio in Torch Jewelry Collective. Her jewelry can be purchased on Etsy at www.sterlingechoes.etsy.com and viewed at her website sterlingechoes.com