Winnie van der Rijn


I have been a maker since childhood. I work with textiles, beads, wire, metal, paper, clay, resin, wood and found objects. I’ve created jewelry, sculpture, prints, wall hangings, shoes, hats, children’s books, costumes & housewares. Making is an essential part of my life. I have been designing jewelry since 1989 and have sold my work in boutiques and galleries throughout the US - including the gift shops of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Museum of Art and Craft and the Hirschhorn Sculpture Garden.

My current work focuses on upcycling found objects. The designs are not premeditated. I employ an organic creative process - design and construction happening simultaneously. The design grows out of a conversation with the materials. It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together. I am inspired by beauty and possibility. I find beauty and possibility in the imperfect and discarded. I like things that are broken and worn and a bit dirty with the patina of age. I am curious about how and why we acquire, consume, treasure, and discard. I am intrigued by the idea of value and how things are assigned value in society. I work to create some kind of visual balance in each piece and an irreverent sense of whimsy. Instead of asking “why?” I like to ask “why not?” I’m about constant reinvention, transformation and evolution for myself and my work.


I started teaching jewelry design shortly after I started making jewelry. I have created curriculum and kits and taught for a wide range of audiences at bead shops and bead shows all around the country as well as at local middle schools, high schools and creativity retreats. In addition, I spent 4 years as the National Training Director for Luxe Jewels (now Stella & Dot) where I focused on teaching consultants how to teach jewelry design with kits, conferences and video training. I am committed to helping people access and express their creativity. 


I am wildly curious about how things are made. I have studied metalsmithing, printmaking and sculpture and taken workshops in bookmaking, altars, exploding picture boxes, automata, shoe making, hat making, fusing, stamping, metal weaving, riveting and precious metal clay.


Website by Werner Glinka