Anita Roelz calls it the “Zen of the hammer.” It’s the feeling she gets when she’s at work on pieces for her jewelry brand Circle Stone Designs. “Once I have the rhythm of the hammer, and I find I’m doing well, I just want to keep on hammering,” she says.
Roelz takes a traditional approach to her metal jewelry. Rather than using tools typically seen in a fine jeweler’s workspace, Roelz uses an anvil and a collection of antique hammers. The hammers were once handled by cobblers or carpenters, and Roelz often feels their old energy coursing through her when she works.
There are definitely easier ways to accomplish what Roelz does in her studio; she could run the round and half-round wires she uses through a mill, but instead hammers them at using an antique anvil and 2-pound sledgehammer. “I like the nuances that happen with the antique tools, the marring that happens from the anvil that creates more character than perfect structure,” she says.
When Roelz works with bigger metal structures, she uses the archetypical approach to smithing: hammering, heating, then hammering again until she finds a shape and pattern she’s happy with. “I don’t look to make things that are complicated,” she says. “I like simple and elemental, where the pattern speaks and you can tell it’s been hand hammered and has some character without being too delicate.”
Roelz credits her father, a carpenter, auto mechanic and jack-of-all-trades, for her ability to use tools without feeling intimidated. She finds the manual process to be especially therapeutic. Her jewelry making came in handy when her partner fell ill back in 2012. It was the drive she needed to go full-time with her business to support her family and she hasn’t looked back since.
On most days, you can find Roelz in her studio/ workspace in Woolwich. The studio is broken into stations, so if she’s creating a new cuff that day, she’ll cut 10 pieces in one spot and then move to another station to hammer them. It’s the same way you’d witness a sculptor or welder at work.
“I love nothing more than to look out over my veggie garden and just pound away.”
To learn more about Anita Roelz and her work, visit circlestonedesigns.com.