Monica Hansmeyer of Seven Sisters Design took a jewelry making class by chance while studying art education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Hansmeyer will show off her talents Oct. 16-18 as part of the second annual Bemidji Studio Cruise, a self-guided tour of area artists. She is one of a series of artists the Pioneer will preview in the weeks before the Studio Cruise. Her studio is located at 410 Main Ave., Turtle River.
She said she started learning about jewelry making at Stout because the oil painting class was full.
"I never thought of jewelry at all, but I took the class and fell in love instantly with (jewelry making), she said. "These are my kind of people."
She said she transferred to Stout from Bemidji State and attended "a few different colleges because that is good for an artist; you get a good variety of professors, students and environments."
She also traveled extensively, and lived in a small village in Guatemala for a time.
"I learned how to weave and loved the indigenous culture," she said. "After returning to the states, I worked with juvenile delinquents back in Pennsylvania; my husband, Mark Morrissey, and I took them on 30-day wilderness trips."
Morrissey runs the outdoor program center at Bemidji State.
They traveled, and after some time, returned to the Bemidji. Hansmeyer returned to BSU because it had a jewelry making program. That is where she learned how to etch. When they first moved up here, she taught jewelry making and art classes at the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts. She also worked for a local jewelry store for two years and in Minneapolis as a bench jeweler. Both of those jobs showed her the potential in her field, she said.
She decided at that point to go out on her own. Hansmeyer named her studio, Seven Sisters because she is one of seven sisters who grew up on a dairy farm in central Minnesota.
"Every day, I think of how lucky I am to be where I am," she said. "When I first started, I worked in our spare bedroom in the house, and then I moved into town. And that was a good move," she said.
Now, Hansmeyer works at her studio next to her home in Turtle River Township. At first, she worked while listening for the baby monitor as her two little boys slept. They are in daycare.
She said she does not do a lot of sketching as she likes to see the pieces come alive as she works.
"I love making textures and designs on top of metal," she said. "This is what I wanted to do. And then I added stones. I use a lot of semi-precious stones, faceted stones too."
Hansmeyer said she chooses each stone personally. When she finds a beautiful stone, she wants it to be the center piece.
"I am drawn to simple beauty," she said. "I like my stones to mimic Mother Nature. I see landscapes in them and I think, my gosh, this is created by the earth.
She said she wants to see the essence of the natural world in the stones.
"I pay tribute to that wonderful stone by making it into a one of a kind piece," she said. "Someone is going to be drawn to a piece, it will be unique and they will love it forever."
This year Hansmeyer started to etch designs into thicker metal to make rings. Many of the stones will be set in 22K gold and sterling silver. She leaves the space behind the open so that light can shine through it.
Hansmeyer sells in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Chicago through gallery representation in stores, but not on the Internet
When visitors come for the tour, they will see demonstrations in her studio and have the opportunity to view and buy her work. Locally, her work is for sale at Kelsey's As You Like It, 318 Beltrami Ave. N.W.
To visit Hansmeyer's studio during the cruise, drive north on U.S. Highway 71 to Island View Drive, make a right and follow the signs.