Innovation. Craft. Whimsy.
Pio began in 2001. After studying linguistic anthropology in college, Rachel set about trying to figure out what she might be doing if she weren't stuck behind a computer screen for 8+ hours a day.
She'd always loved to doodle, and during the latter half of college, she had the opportunity to develop her creative vision through fun (albeit rigorous) black and white photography classes at the Rhode Island School of Design. What she enjoyed most about those classes were the moments in the darkroom. The ability to manipulate images with the intervention of the hand. Experimentation. Collaging two negatives together to see what ensued. She was inspired by the work of photographers such as Duane Michals and Francesca Woodman as well as Tina Modotti and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She'd been aware of -- and admired -- surrealists such as Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo since childhood, and Pee Wee's Playhouse is perhaps one of the strongest influences on her early life, along with a healthy obsession with music (she spent her middle school years glued to 92.7 WDRE, calling in her 'shriek of the week' and rocking out to new wave hits in her bedroom.
She moved to San Miguel de Allende in fall of 2001, and that turned out to be a very wise choice. Populated with an interesting cast of characters -- many of them art devotees (and yes, a healthy sprinkling of Texan retirees), she had the time and tools at her disposal to learn, create, and practice. While eating tacos one of her first few days in town, she met two women who tipped her off about a jewelry workshop in town where classes were taught. She went and signed up for a month of classes, and was soon happily learning to melt, saw, and hammer metal. Passionate love ensued. See, when you place a hot torch above a small piece of silver wire, it turns into a tiny, perfectly formed, round ball -- magic!
Within weeks of nurturing her newfound passion, people were asking her where to buy the rings she was wearing (and she eagerly sold them the rings off her fingers.) Encouraged by this early enthusiasm, she began to sell her work in shows and fairs. The first of these was in the lovely courtyard of Instituto Allende.
A year later she found herself back in New York, working on a line to show & sell on Pio's original website. To her delight, stores were also excited about Pio jewelry and began carrying it. She exhibited and sold at the Young Designers' Market in downtown NYC, was invited to participate in Vancouver Fashion Week. She began to incorporate lost wax casting into her work.
However, the cold winters kept her wondering about where else she might live. Did a place exist with a warm climate and a relatively vibrant culture? After working at a summer camp in Georgia and then going to Penland School of Crafts on a work-study scholarship, she rolled the dice and moved to Austin, Texas, which immediately felt like home.
She's been in the same zip code ever since, continuing to expand her jewelry-making knowledge and to push her imagination. Travel remains very important to Rachel's creative vitality -- and involves excitedly observing new kinds of architecture, elements of nature, occasional sketching, obsessive photographing and, eventually, coming home to incorporate the fresh ideas into new designs. Pio has evolved into the pieces you see in the shop today and will continue to evolve -- stay tuned for new designs!
Always made by hand, Pio jewelry is sometimes fabricated from metal itself, and sometimes first sculpted from wax (and sometimes designed in CAD before being 'printed' in wax). Roller-printing, cuttlefish casting, enameling, die-forming, and stone-setting are all techniques incorporated, and Rachel is on a constant quest to add new techniques her arsenal. If you have any questions about techniques, materials, process, or the jewels themselves, or have a recipe or song you'd like to share, please holla. firstname.lastname@example.org