A handful of little rocks, delicately arranged like stones on a necklace, wait in patient single file on the stump of a decades-old tree. The ground of this urban barnyard is covered in fresh mulch, pliant under foot and scattered with stacks of paving stones and concrete blocks, signs of care and creative hope. A sticker is adhered to a flower pot: “Art is Power.” Formerly host to an historic dairy farm, this wandering plot south of downtown now holds the home and studio of Bri McGrew, owner and designer of The Universe Conspires, a Colorado Springs jewelry maker.
The studio is an open-armed, tiny space in what was likely the mudroom-entrance to an equally welcoming home. A painting of a riverboat leans humbly on the legs of the work bench, mason jars full of collected potential crowd the shelves, and a half-empty tea cup is set among the jewelry tools: evidence of the focused and multi-step process of shaping raw materials into beautiful jewelry. Each piece is the epilogue of its own long story, as Bri spends numerous hours and days on every element: dreaming and shaping and forming and tumbling and buffing and polishing and presenting. In her fingers, jewelry tools become magic wands and the hands of a clock: bringing beauty from seemingly nothing, one meticulous moment at a time.
Bri’s is a minimalist style, classic and timeless, designed to compliment the wearer’s own person, empowering them to be themselves, inspiring a positive strength. Trying not to contribute to the waste of the world, Bri sources recycled metals and conflict-free stones for her craft, even utilizing all of her scraps: these are pieces made with sterling, brass, copper, gold, reverence, and respect. The universe conspires in her work and in her life, and the products of that partnership are full of history and longevity, made with intention and intended as heirloom artifacts.
Bri's next line of jewelry, called the Arcata collection, is a reflection on her time road-tripping in the Redwoods; all the stones in this series were procured from rock shop lapidary artists, cut for subtle grace, shined to refract the colors and richness of their place. Arcata launches in early April, 2018. The Universe Conspires can be found locally in Colorado Springs at Ladyfingers Letterpress and the Fine Arts Center.