Gabriel Ofiesh

Over forty-five years ago, Gabriel graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in English literature. During his last two years of college, he became interested in making jewelry. Unable to land a prep school English teaching job, Gabriel traveled to a craft show in Danville, Virginia, and made $400 in two days.

This eye-opening commercial success sparked the beginnings of a solo and largely self-taught career designing and making gold, platinum and silver jewelry. Over the next few years, he traveled throughout Virginia to rural craft fairs, and then expanded his schedule to larger events on the east coast. With the help of workshops with Hekki Seppa and Ronald Pearson and a gem-setting class at the Revere Academy, he started to articulate his design ideas and form a cohesive body of work. His lack of extensive formal education in metalworking became a strength; he learned through trial and error often using tools and materials in non-traditional ways.

Thirty-five years ago, Gabriel was part of the growth of the craft industry as an exciting and fresh way to market handmade goods. Exhibiting primarily in American Craft Council shows, Gabriel garnered a national audience and honed his design focus to include his now distinctive collections.

Twenty-five years ago, the craft movement was in full bloom: if you could make it, you could sell it. But as the millennium approached, Gabriel’s business focus underwent a purposeful transformation. He downsized from his large production studio and became more of a metalsmith again and less of a manager. Picking up a longstanding thread of interest in jewelry that moved, he designed his first orbit rings. That expanded collection has become his signature.

Today, although more conscious of maintaining design continuity, Gabriel still uses tools in an unconventional manner and mostly designs by trial and error. Sometimes playing around directly with the materials can produce some surprising “aha!” results.

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