Jewelry artist Judie Raiford’s multidisciplinary gallery has been a Roswell institution since 1996. Recently, as I entered the tall timber-frame building to interview its entrepreneurial owner, she was giving a customer a pair of earrings she’d crafted from the client’s father’s cuff links, even incorporating his monogram. The result: a new family heirloom that was trademark Raiford.
How did you get into making jewelry?
The 1960s were ending, and I realized that “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” was not a career choice. I picked the one field of art [from which] you can make a living. Jewelry is hormonal. Women want to be lovely, and men want to get lucky. Here, jewelry is 6 percent of our footprint, and it’s 40 to 50 percent of our revenue.
Why did you decide to feature other mediums in the gallery?
I thought I’d work less, ha! But it has never ceased to be fun. I would love to tell you that I had a great plan, but in reality it was seat of the pants. If I loved it, I wanted to carry it. Glass is my favorite because it’s the opposite of metal, which I work with every day.
Tell me about your building.
About a hundred friends gathered to erect this 9,100-square-foot building in an Amish-style barn raising in 1995. Even the architect came to help because he said he’d never see this happen again. The building is made of local pine and oak trees that were destined for the dump. At the time, Roswell was growing so fast that people were clear-cutting land.
Has the DIY movement helped or hurt art galleries?
I think it’s great. People have touched materials, so they understand them better. I have never believed in that artificial line between craft and art, so I ignore it.
1169 Canton Street, Roswell
This article originally appeared in our Spring 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.