A Baltimore-based jewelry designer remains committed to her craft and plans to attend Paris Fashion Week for the first time this fall.
If you’re a woman in Baltimore, there’s a very good chance that you own a “Shana Kroiz” or know someone who does.
For nearly three decades, Kroiz has decorated women’s fingers, necks, ears and wrists with her sculptural and whimsical pieces of jewelry reminiscent of the sea.
A Baltimore native, Kroiz says she knew she made the right career choice after completing her first project at New York’s prestigious Parsons School of Design — a cuff bracelet of flat, unfinished bronze.
“I was completely hooked once I cut out my design and learned to sand and polish the scrappy metal,” says Kroiz, 51, a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts who double-majored in ceramics and jewelry at Parsons.
Everything about jewelry inspires and intrigues Kroiz, from the scale and relationship of a piece to a wearer to the techniques she uses to transform and manipulate materials sculpturally and with color.
During college, Kroiz says she fell in love with electroforming, a technique that uses electrodes and electricity to cause a chemical reaction. She perfected the technique while pursuing her Master of Fine Arts at Towson University and continues to use electroforming, as well as other methods — some traditional, some new — in much of her jewelry making.
Kroiz’s earlier pieces often were reminiscent of tools and primitive forms, and better suited for galleries and museums than for personal wearing. Indeed, some of her jewelry has been exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, both in New York. Her work also has been featured in magazines such as Metalsmith and in books such as “The Penland Book of Jewelry: Master Classes in Jewelry Techniques” (Penland) and “500 Brooches: Inspiring Adornments for the Body” (Sterling Publishing).
About a decade ago, Kroiz began designing and selling a line of wearable jewelry that enables her work to be enjoyed more intimately and casually. Working in her home studio in Mount Washington — where she lives with daughter Galya, 17, son Isaac, 13, and husband, Eddie Seidel, owner of Salon 36 in Owings Mills — Kroiz’s work continues to evolve. Recently, she added powder coating to her enamel and electroforming repertoire.
“I use enamel as fields of color, texture and abstract imagery,” she says, “and work with the powders for all sorts of applications. I often use foils and gold and silver leaf to create reflective and metaling details in the surfaces.”
The result is lighter, more durable pieces that combine metals including gold, rose gold, rhodium and sterling silver with such colors as fuchsia, turquoise and white.
In addition to designing and selling her contemporary jewelry, Kroiz teaches at the Baltimore Jewelry Center, an educational nonprofit organization in Station North that she co-founded, and gives specialty classes around the country. She says teaching and supporting new jewelers is a passion for her.
Early in her career, Kroiz helped start and served as director of the now-defunct Maryland Institute College of Art Jewelry Center and director of the Jewelry Center at the 92nd Street Y in New York. For a time, she regularly commuted to New York to teach at Parsons, her alma mater.
A self-described Kroiz “junkie,” Owings Mills resident Alyson Friedman owns five pairs of Kroiz’s earrings. “She’s so talented and contemporary,” says Friedman. “I’ve been following her for years and am always keeping my eyes out for new Shanas.”
Besides making elegant jewelry that people occasionally want to buy right off her body, Kroiz has become an expert in self-promotion and marketing. She shows her work at approximately six juried fine arts shows annually, including the American Craft Show in Baltimore, and sells it on her website, on Facebook and Instagram, and at such local galleries as the Rebecca Myers Collection gallery at the Village of Cross Keys.
Kroiz also serves as official jewelry designer for Carlous Palmer of the Baltimore-based Carlous Palmer Designs. She will accompany Palmer, a fellow BSA graduate, and textile designer Kirk Shindle to Paris Fashion Week this fall.
Showing at a Paris Fashion Week is a lifelong dream of Kroiz’s, and she says she is currently sketching pieces for the show.
The trip also will be a learning experience for several fortunate college students who will accompany the designers as assistants on the journey. “We want to give them a taste of the process while immersing them in the Paris fashion scene,” Kroiz says.
For information, visit shanakroizjewelry.com.
Faye Rivkin is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.