top of page

Shelley Atwood

Before moving to Alpine in 2004, I used to have fantasies about what it would be like to live in the desert, to feel that connectedness to the earth that is such an intrinsic part of life out here, especially in the Big Bend. There is some kind of mystery in this wild land that evokes, oddly, the "free man in Paris" feeling.

In my art, I try to trigger that emotional/psychological connection to the earth found in the most ancient or primitive of cultures. I want my art to both celebrate and honor the earth. I primarily make jewelry and other small pieces from polymer clay and silver precious metal clay (PMC), using paint and various carving tools.

I like lots of texture and clear definition in my designs. I often use paint in my pieces to highlight and define. My designs are derived from ethnic and paleo-archaic art, with strong pre-Columbian tribal influences. There's a sort of post-hippy era influence as well.

The creative process is a struggle for me, a struggle and a joy. The joy comes from watching a piece morph out of a blob of clay into the final product. Sometimes, I know from the beginning what I'm going to do with a particular piece, but more often than not, I just start playing around with different components, or start sketching on my computer. It's a sensory process rather than conceptual, organic rather than structured. There's a tension between the half-formed idea and any vision of the final product and an inertial resistance to starting. I have to give up on the concept of the final product and immerse myself in the process. I think my art comes from my hands rather than my brain.

Click on the images below for a full view. To see Shelley making art in her home studio, go to

bottom of page