I met with Joel of Freestone Peach Designs while sitting on a couch in the middle of the busy floor of another jewelry event. He introduced himself, shook my hand, and then unzipped his backpack to withdraw three small bundles, each wrapped in a piece of various colored flannel.
Inside each bundle was a one-of-a-kind, handcrafted Freestone Peach cuff bracelet: the works of wearable art that we’ll be talking about today.
Joel’s personal history goes a long way towards explaining how he came to develop such a captivating vision: he’s had quite a journey to get where he is today.
A formal Navy company commander who is fluent in Japanese, Joel has studied architecture, business, and healthcare administration, lived all over the US and in Japan (four separate times) and worked in construction, project planning, and served in the Navy.
After the conclusion of his military career, Joel enrolled in business school to pursue the next phase of his life. He picked up some work with a Japanese construction company, and then inspiration struck.
My favorite line of Joel’s artist bio: Little did he know that he went to business school to become an artist.
Like the pieces of wood that he transforms, Joel needed to be shaped by life in order to be ready to found Freestone Peach Designs. In his own words: My art is a convergence of every place that I have lived.
To create his one of a kind Freestone Peach designs, Joel collects wood that would otherwise be destroyed; he harvests from non-producing trees slated to be burned or worm-eaten scraps, the weathered limbs of trees that would otherwise be done with fruitful life.
Joel sets the cracks and fissures in this ruptured wood with gemstones: uneven, fractured, gemstones that otherwise may not have ever been used for jewelry.
Thanks to Freestone Peach Design’s unique manufacturing processes, these two organic materials – both unwanted on their own – join to become something wonderful, fresh, and new.
The piece above features peach wood set with opals. I found the flash of the opal’s fire to be utterly captivating against the grain of the peach wood.
Joel fits the stones and the wood so perfectly together that the final product appears to be something grown, rather than something carefully created by human hands. This one features peach wood with Kingman turquoise and copper.
His design aesthetic is strongly influenced by his experience with the Japanese culture. He speaks often of his dedication to the principles of the Shibui aesthetic: Simplicity, Implicitness, Modesty, Silence, Naturalness, Everydayness, and Imperfection.
What do you think of these designs, darlings? I’m head over heels – the idea of making something beautiful out of wood that would otherwise just be destroyed is such a wonderful metaphor, and the final product is stunning.
A huge thanks to Joel of Freestone Peach Designs for meeting with me and allowing me to photograph his beautiful work. For inquiries, please contact Joel directly at email@example.com.