Northern Wilds Magazine
Owyhee double rectangle band cuff bracelet, created by Betsy Anderson of Whitewater Jewelry. | SUBMITTED

North Shore Art with Southwest Style

The wild beauty of the North Shore provides endless inspiration to the thriving community of artists who call it home. Lake Superior captivates with her many moods, rivers cascade over cliffs and beach pebbles to meet her waves, and eternal views of water, forest, and sky help artists bring creative visions to life.

Betsy Anderson is one such artist. “Any time I can see Lake Superior I am inspired,” she says. Her business, Whitewater Jewelry, is named for the Baptism River flowing near her home in Finland. After visiting and vacationing on the North Shore for many years, Anderson and her husband moved to their cabin after retiring in 2015. “We chose the area because of the remote beauty and proximity to all that we love—trails, skiing, hiking and of course Lake Superior.”

The Northland isn’t the only place Anderson finds inspiration. “I started this during the Southwestern silver and turquoise jewelry craze of the ‘70s,” she explains. “I still love the look, and have tried to incorporate some of the Southwestern and Native flavor in my pieces, along with my own spin.”

Turquoise and jasper are featured prominently in her work, alongside Lake Superior agates. “I have been lucky enough to visit Arizona and Mexico throughout my life, and I really try to soak up the culture,” Anderson muses. “The Navajo jewelers in Arizona are amazing.”

Whitewater Jewelry, owned by Betsy Anderson, is a unique fusion between the North Shore and the Southwest. | SUBMITTED

Anderson’s bold jewelry features polished semi-precious stones set in sterling silver. She creates unique and elegant pendants, earrings, bracelets, and rings in her home studio. “My work definitely has a bit of a ‘throwback’ feel to it,” she says. When asked what pieces she enjoys making the most, she exclaims, “I love making them all! Especially when I feel like I have a beautiful stone and great design to work from.”

Anderson has always been a creative person, which led her to pursue an art major in college. “After college I was lucky enough to meet some silversmiths who let me apprentice with them and learn the skills needed to make silver jewelry,” she recalls. “I was able to do this for several years and sell my work at art fairs.”

Life took Anderson in a different direction when she became an information technology project manager at Polaris headquarters in Medina. Art took a back seat for over 30 years until she retired from the corporate world and moved north. “I loved my job, but having the freedom to be creative on my terms is just amazing,” she explains. “Dream come true!”

The technique Anderson uses to create her jewelry is called silversmithing, which involves sawing components out of metal and using an acetylene torch to solder them together. The first step in Anderson’s creative process is choosing the perfect stone. “I am lucky enough to get to Arizona once a year for stone buying,” she says, “and there are also some amazing sources of Lake Superior agates right here on the North Shore.” Once the setting has been designed, the metal is filed, sanded, and polished, until finally the stone is fixed in place.

A Lake superior agate necklace with swirl. | SUBMITTED

“The more complex the piece, the more challenging—multiple components requiring more solder joints, multiple stones, and intricate designs all add to the challenge,” Anderson says. Larger jewelry pieces are more difficult as well.

The local community has been an asset, allowing Anderson an opportunity to collaborate with galleries and promote her work alongside other talented North Shore creatives. “I also love to attend events like Art Along the Lake and meet other artists in the area,” she mentions.

When she’s not creating jewelry, Anderson is often enjoying the beauty of nature. “The Superior Hiking Trail is one of my ‘happy places,’” she says. “I also love downhill and cross country skiing.”

She has favorite places to visit in the desert as well, including the “whole state” of Arizona, but specifically the mountains and desert near Tucson and Phoenix, and the lakes and mountains near Payson. “So much natural beauty.”

Whitewater Jewelry is a unique fusion between the North Shore and the Southwest, a reflection of an artist inspired by two very different, beautiful cultures. You can find Anderson’s jewelry at Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, Siiviis Gallery in Duluth, Eckels Pottery and Fine Craft Gallery in Bayfield, Wisc., Waters Edge Trading in Tofte, and North Country Gallery in Lutsen.

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