Charmed Life

Style File: Betty Cooke, Joyce Scott, and Shana Kroiz

Get acquainted with local jewelry makers and the Baltimore Jewelry Center.

When the MICA Jewelry Center closed in 2013, it left a hole in hearts of the Baltimore art community. Creators who had been able to set up benches and work freely for the past 22 years were now without a space to create and learn in.

Enter: Baltimore Jewelry Center. They swooped and filled that hole in June 2014. Just over a year later, the center celebrates its inaugural exhibition, “Passing From One Hand” where Baltimore jewelry greats Betty Cooke, Joyce Scott, and Shana Kroiz are showcase a sampling of their enormous catalogs of works.

We sat down to chat with Cooke, Scott, and Kroiz about jewelry and style and they dominated the conversation in a way only three intelligent and talented vets of the jewelry game can. Read on for their thoughts on the center, polka dots, and why the jewelry community and Baltimore should show each other a little love.

Describe your jewelry in one sentence.
Betty Cooke:
I think mine is extremely simple, architectural, and yet it has a bit of play in it.
Shana Kroiz: My work is very sculptural, bold, sensuous, and celebratory.

What would your superpower be if you had one?
Joyce Scott: I have one. It is the digestion and dissemination of power.
SK: I would be able to empower everyone to be empowered. I wish that I could do that for other people.

3. What is your main inspiration for jewelry making? Where do you get your ideas?

JS: Pop culture.
BC: You don’t get an idea, you just have it inside and it happens.
SK: I always start with form in some basic level and then that form grows and sort of becomes alive for me.

What’s your favorite piece in your collection?
BC: My favorite things I haven’t made yet. They’re still cooking.
SK: It’s like children! My son and daughter say to me, ‘Am I your favorite?’ and you just can’t choose. You love with such abundance that you can’t.

What’s the most embarrassing trend you used to love?
SK: I think the three of us are all individuals who don’t follow trends.

What’s your favorite saying/motto?
JS: A Martin Luther King Jr. quote on my studio wall that says, “I choose love because hate is too big a burden to carry.”

What would you say no outfit is complete without?
SK: You are naked if you’re not wearing jewelry as far as I’m concerned.
BC: I’m with her. There’s no question there.

What’s your current favorite and least favorite trend?
: I always find it curious the whole trend thing because, as a maker, I always think that what I’m making is contemporary, and I’m not a follower. I believe you dress for you . . . But my one thing is I hate polka dots.
: Oh, I love polka dots.
SK: I don’t mind random shaped polka dots, but I hate the organized polka dots.
BC: But it depends on the texture and the fabric and—
SK: You have to really work at it. They always look like a clown!
BC: There are some nice polka dots in this world.

What are you thoughts on the Baltimore Jewelry Center?
SK: Baltimore has no idea what they have, but I hope they find out and discover it because this is really a game-changing thing. It really creates community and I think it’s going to be an incubation for hopefully changing the way Baltimore sees and views jewelry . . . I am honored and thrilled to be involved.
JS: The space is comparable to any metals graduate school. It’s in a classically commercial area that at one time was a fashion area. Do not be frightened by the supposed problems that will happen in this neighborhood. If you allow it to fall under that sway then that’s what will happen, but if you support endeavors like this jewelry center, then this whole area, the entire city will be able to gain from it.