Farm to Fashion: Deana Albers

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From a rural Montana farm to Hollywood movie sets to a cozy jewelry studio outside of Bozeman, Deana Albers has traveled a long and winding road back to her roots. She was raised on a wheat farm in Northern Montana, near Fort Benton. She attended college in Bozeman and New Mexico before heading to L.A. to find fame and fortune as a property person for film and television. After a couple of decades the glamour inevitably wore off, and she headed back home to the Rockies. Searching for a way to make a living in Montana, Deana brushed off the jewelry skills she had learned in college and set up shop as a jewelry designer. While not the easiest or most profitable job in the world, she loves the flexibility and creativity it provides. Every day is a little different, and work from home is balanced with travel to shows around the state and the country.

Photos in this post by Anna Visscher, Deana Albers, and Ben Lloyd

Photos in this post by Anna Visscher, Deana Albers, and Ben Lloyd

She shares a studio behind a cozy log cabin in Bear Canyon with her husband, architect Ben Lloyd, and their loyal canine studio assistant Willson. Deana hand crafts jewelry using sterling silver, 14K gold and gemstones. With a torch, a few power tools and some well-weathered hand tools, she creates a beautifully simple line of everyday jewelry with dainty gemstones and rustic hammered metals. Her aim is to fashion beautiful, wearable jewelry that women can dress up and dress down. She also makes stunning one-of-a-kind pieces with handpicked luscious gemstones. Many of her pieces look positively edible, with juicy colors and beautifully cut stones that remind me of hard candy.

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There’s something about Montana kids who left, saw the world, and chose to come back. Deana and I bonded over this early on in our friendship. She is one of the funniest, most irreverent, and kindest people I know. She has a worldliness leavened by practicality and deftly offsets graceful creation with the occasional cuss word. Her work reflects this balance: lovely, modern, gorgeousness that is tough, durable and wearable.

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Her studio is a work of art in itself. Everywhere you look, shelves and walls hold tiny treasures: tableaus and collages of interesting, odd, and beautiful things. The farm is all around her too. The patchwork siding on her studio is salvaged from old equipment and buildings from the family homestead. Postcards, magazine clippings and ephemera mix with photos on her inspiration board. One photo shows her father and older brother leaning on a weathered old truck the exact color of a gemstone on her worktable. Every summer she returns to the farm where her grandparents homesteaded, to drive the same trucks she’s driven since she was 15 years old. This summer will be the final harvest her family will bring in, as times have changed and her family is moving on. It will be a bittersweet end to a long legacy. But the farm will live on in the walls of Deana’s studio, as well as in her.

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Deana’s work can be found online on tart’s website or her etsy site. Her work can also be found in person at tart in Bozeman, T9 and the Trailhead in Missoula, the Holter Museum in Helena and The Danforth Gallery in Livingston.

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