Press

JEWELERS CONCOCT RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
By Joseph Piccoli, Jackson Hole Guide, October 11, 1989

Ask Dan and Shelley Harrison what things influence their work as artists and they will give you a whole list of ingredients that go into the stew they call Danshelley Jewelry What's New.

Samples of the concoction, which include elk ivory set in gold rings, necklaces and pendants, unadorned gold and silver jewelry and settings of faceted precious and semi-precious stones in both gold and silver, are featured in a Fall Arts Festival show at the Harrison's retail store in Gaslight Alley through Oct. 31.

"It all goes back to our love of nature," Shelley said, listing the first ingredient. " We really started out as rockhounds finding things in nature that we liked finding rough gems and bringing their beauty out in jewelry."

Today, the pair take continued inspiration both from the stones and ivory they set in jewelry and from their very surroundings in Jackson Hole.

"It's a continual challenge," Shelley said. "Are we worthy of the Tetons? It's a challenge to meet that standard."

Next, toss in a dash of art and design study at Utah State University for both.

Finally, add a third ingredient, the most important: Collaboration. As vital as it is, it is an ingredient the two say they did not know was in the recipe.

"It takes two people to create our jewelry," Dan explained. "There is an energy we didn't realize existed at first, an energy that creates a whole that is greater than the sum of the two parts."

One more thing, throw in a healthy measure of disregard for the distinction between art and business. Without it, Dan and Shelley agree, you still do not have Danshelley jewelry.

"Most artists lack the business sense needed to market their work," Dan said. "They seem to feel that just be creating their work they've done enough. At most, they'll look for someone to market what they've done."

Not so the Harrisons, They said they have paid as much attention to their business as the their art.

"We have many friends, artists, who cannot seem to cross the line," Shelley said. "But you can't just sit in a corner and say to people, 'If you don't like what I do, then I don't care about you'".

In fact, she said, artists can expand their horizons if they will only listen to potential customers. "It has really opened my mind as an artist, knowing what my customers want."

"I know artists who wonder why they're not more successful," Dan said. "It's because they don't key on what the public wants."

Still, Dan and Shelley said they what the public wants does not drive every artistic decision they make.

For example, they will not make a "custom" piece of jewelry for anyone who has in mind a piece being produced in quantity by a jewelry manufacturer.

"If what they want is already available, we tell them so, and tell them where to get it," Dan said.

 

WHEN ART IS A GEM
By Deb Gruver, Jackson Hole News, September 28, 1993

Dan and Shelley Harrison consider themselves artists.

But their studio adjacent to their South Park Loop home isn't filled with easels, canvasses or paints.

Instead, the Harrisons are surrounded by gold, diamonds, rubies and pearls. Owners of DanShelley' Jewelers, the Harrisons view their rings, pendants, bracelets and other pieces of jewelry as art.

"Jewelry is the number-one-selling art form in the work," Dan Harrison said. "It's a pretty exact art form where sloppy work is evident."

You're working with raw materials that have intrinsic value," Shelley Harrison said.

Making one-of-a-kind jewelry in Jackson sine 1976, the year they were married, the Harrisons say they enjoy the creative process immensely.

The Harrisons make the jewelry they sell from start to finish. It begins with picking out stones and designing the jewelry and ends with polishing the pieces.

"The designing and the coordination of the stones is the most creative process," Shelley Harrison said, adding that executing a design is very difficult. "The creative process is the most rewarding part."

The Harrisons said they try to make their jewelry different and unique because they can't compete with mass-produced pieces.

Unlike the Harrisons and other valley jewelers, some designers stop at the design process. After coming up with a design, they ship it off and subcontract the actual work. That compromises the quality of a piece the Harrisons believe.

ROCK STARS BUILD CAREER WITH FAMILY LOVE
Jewelers celebrate 15 years of gold, silver, marriage
By Drew Simmons, Jackson Hole News, September 25, 1991

Eavesdrop on a conversation with Dan and Shelley Harrison, and you might never know that they are two of the region's most prominent jewelers.

Judging from a select few sentences the topic of conversation might be their family or the fine arts of painting and sculpting.

Discussing the business of jewels with words like "love," "life" and "endearment," they cite phrases like "inspiration begins at 6,000 feet," and "passion for perfection in an imperfect world," and they flash an occasional grin at each other which holds more than simple enjoyment of each other's company.

Despite the pair's propensity for metaphysical conversation, their down-to-earth life is celebrating its fifteenth year of business together. Coincidentally, they are celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary as well as the 15th birthday of their only child which is named DanShelley Jewelers.

"We've defied the odds of a couple working together," said Dan Harrison. "Being married and working together people always think that something's going to come along and blow things up."

In conjunction with their anniversary celebration, the DanShelley showcase is an elegant cornerstone in the downtown shopping area and is displaying a series of bronze busts by sculptor Trent Meyer in addition to the Harrison's unique gemstone arrangements.

Throughout the year, DanShelley displayed select pieces of Meyer's work, but for the next two weeks the gallery is showing his entire collection. Meyer's show includes the busts of "Pan" the infant chimpanzee, "Goldie" the golden retriever, "Arabian Prince" the Arabian stallion and "Trouper," ñ the life size bust of a male olive baboon.

The duo of Utah State graduates began their love affair with jewelry at the Park City Art Fair in 1976. That year, the pair married, displayed their first works and put down a first- and last-month deposit on a 300-square-foot retail space in the newly constructed Gaslight Alley.

Their spot was the last storefront available, and in it they housed their entire workshop as well as their display area. Their lives, they explain, revolved around the store.

"We'd have donuts and coffee in the morning and pizza brought in at night," said Shelley.

Gold, which is under $400 per ounce now, peaked above the $800 mark in the late seventies, restricting the duo to sterling silver work. However, through shrewd business sense and hard work they now attack the full realm of precious metals and gems.

"It was tempting to enhance our personal lives," said Dan of the fairly lucrative first years. "but we pumped it back into the business." Now at their home studio, the pair collaborates on the entire creative process. Calling the back-and-forth work "playing tennis," Dan and Shelly pour themselves into their jewelry. At any give time as many as 100 pieces of work could be on display at the shop.

"The fulfillment that somebody would experience with a child, we feel with a great piece," said Shelley.

With their workshop hidden away at their home, the storefront space is devoted to picturesque presentation, a forte of the husband/wife duo.

"It's not just a shopping experience, we're trying to do the whole ambience," said Shelley. "A lot of times, people are afraid to go into a jewelry store. We set it up like a kind of museum."

The celebration of their 15 years is only the beginning, explains Dan, because like the jewelry they build painstakingly, "We'll be here forever."

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