Birch: Handrafted Wearables is Turlock’s Hidden Gem
If you spotted a piece of Birch: Handcrafted Wearables jewelry on the street, you’d probably think that the wearer had purchased it at a high-end store like Anthropologie. In reality, the business is a one-woman operation run out of a Turlock home – but looking at the quality and style of the pieces, you’d never know the difference.
Anne Kapor, artist behind Birch, creates the kind of high-end metalwork-and-chiffon statement necklaces you see in the glossy photos of a fashion magazine. Her delicately hammered geometric bracelets and rough-hewn pairs of stone earrings are only available online or in local boutiques and galleries.
In real life, she looks a little like her jewelry: stylish, but effortlessly so, her brown hair piled in a messy bun on top of her head, a pair of amethyst-and-silver earrings of her own design adorning her ears. It’s easy to see how she connects so well with her customers – she’s one of them.
The range of jewelry that Kapor produces is impressively large, but the point of commonality for all of her work is its rich sense of texture. Her designs have a matte, organic quality to them, at turns both industrial and delicate. “I like the idea of juxtaposing metal with something really soft,” Kapor says. “That way, you can mix it with whatever you want to wear. It’s like a little black dress – something simple that you can pair with anything.”
Kapor says she can’t pinpoint exactly where Birch: Handcrafted Wearables began. You can trace it back four years, when she started metalworking as a form of self-therapy, or you can follow Birch’s origins even farther, back to the finger puppets and clay beads she made with her brother when they were kids. “I was raised doing art,” says Kapor. “My mom was always making things and my dad builds furniture and tables.”
These family roots are a crucial part of her business, both in terms of inspiration and materials. Kapor’s grandfather, who worked in demolition, kept piles of scrap metal around his property, and she often upcycles these very bits of metal into her art. “To me, it’s interesting to have a story, to know that you’re wearing a piece of material that was roofing in the 1950s or 60s,” she says. “It means more when it’s handmade and it has an interesting background to it. It’s not just a mass produced thing from a factory.”
Eco-friendliness of materials is an important component of the Birch: Handrafted Wearables brand. “I do buy silver, but I would say that at least half of my materials are recycled,” says Kapor. “I try to stick with using what I have to create something new. I would say that’s my biggest inspiration – transforming a piece of metal and dirt into something you can wear to an elegant event.”
How does she keep churning out such cutting-edge designs? The key to staying creative, she asserts, is to constantly challenge oneself. Kapor does this by creating small goals, like constructing an intricate necklace from as little material as possible or incorporating fabric into her design. “It’s about pushing the envelope in terms of your creative perspective, and that’s something I got from my family. When I was younger, I thought they were hoarding all this scrap metal and wood,” she says with a laugh. “It’s embarrassing when you’re ten! But when you get older, you see a piece of furniture your dad is building by hand, and it has these paint chips on it – and the paint chips are beautiful, because they have a history.”
Find Birch jewelry online at http://birch-handcrafted-wearables.com or at DIGS in Turlock and Chartreuse Muse in Modesto.