Shano Kelley

My journey as an artist/jeweler began in 1971. Ready for a change and inspired by the unknown, I dropped out of college in West Virginia and took off hitchhiking to California. For a year I enjoyed living in and exploring Berkeley and San Francisco, but come winter, I found myself heading South to Tucson, AZ with a few newly found friends.

In this new and exciting playground of Arizona’s desert, we spent time exploring the rocks. With the help of some of the first published gem prospecting guides, along with the advice of the old-timers, we started digging for gems and minerals throughout the South West. It was here that I learned to cut and polish stones– first crafting them into animal fetishes, then into cabochons. It wasn’t long before I met Neil, a creative artist, already working as a silversmith. On May 5th, 1975, in exchange for some of my cut stones, he taught me how to make my first ring. The next day he and I shopped for tools and some silver to start my jewelry making kit, a total investment of $150.00. That was the only lesson I ever had in jewelry making. I sold that ring for $7.00 and I was so excited. I thought, “Wow, I can do this!”

A week later, I found myself hitchhiking back to the Bay Area, backpack and torch tank in hand. Tom and Adele, dear artist friends, had gotten a big Victorian house together by Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. They encouraged me to live there with them and get my license to become a “San Francisco Street Artist”. It sounded perfect. I got my street permit, found a Volkswagen windshield in the dumpster, turned it into my first showcase, and started selling my work. Later that year I bought an old Ford Econoline van, fixed it up to live in and started traveling around America selling at outdoor fairs. Little did I know . . . this was simply the beginning of an endless and wonderful life journey as a jeweler. I did not intend to forge a career out of this hobby, but the ease with which it came to me and the love I discovered for it proved to be irresistible.