Keren Barukh has finally worked up the nerve to come into your home.
The Walnut Creek artist plays guest of honor at private jewelry parties in East Bay living rooms several times a month. At these stylish get-togethers, she shows her necklaces and creates new designs for custom pieces that match each customer’s coloring.
But it wasn’t always so easy for this Persian artist and craftswoman to meet with her clients.
Ten years ago, having just graduated from UC San Diego with an art degree and looking for work, Barukh was struggling. She would fish her necklaces from the trunk of a hand-me-down Honda Civic, then show them at the back doors of hair salons, in public parks, and in parking lots.
“Nothing about it was respectable,” she says. But strangers were stopping her clients, asking where they bought their necklaces, and insisting they’d drive anywhere to see more. “I met women in parks because I didn’t know if it was safe to have them meet at my home.”
Barukh eventually started accepting invitations to give private parties in people’s homes—even after she got a day job as a graphic designer. She devoted herself to jewelry full time in 2001, after an art director in her office invited her to show her collection at work.
Now her necklaces are for sale in several East Bay boutiques and at the Oakland Museum of California. Still, the irrepressible 31-year-old artist loves meeting her customers face to face—and happily sells her work at wholesale prices ($130–$158).Her creations incorporate crystals, semiprecious stones, and unusual glass. Her line of silver necklaces tends toward the whimsical, with pendants shaped like high-heel shoes and handbags, among other designs.
Most recently, she has found a way to mesh her twin passions of oil painting and jewelry-making. At first she thought she would incorporate jewels into her paintings, but that didn’t seem right, so instead she turned her paintings into jewelry. She framed digital images of her oils—which depict women in peaceful, intimate moments—in sterling silver, then suspended them from multiple strands of colored glass seed beads.
You can see Barukh’s jewelry and paintings at www.kerencreations.com and www.kerenscanvas.com.