MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -
Many Vermont artists find inspiration in the state's natural beauty -- that's the case for one man who interprets nature to make his Made in Vermont jewelry.
Bruce Baker loves tinkering with wax in his Middlebury workshop. But these detailed wax shapes don't just stop there, they get turned into nature-inspired, primarily sterling silver creations for his business, Bruce Baker Studio.
"I can hardly think of anything we've ever made that doesn't have some relationship to nature. I'm an avid gardener and love to scuba dive when I can," Baker said.
He makes 150 different styles of jewelry, creating everything from sea shell earrings for people living on the coast, to maple leaves, and even creepy crawly things like snakes. Wax sculptures get cast by throwing melted metal into cylinders filled with plaster. The wax melts and is replaced with metal, revealing impressive sculptures that are taken apart to make the jewelry that will last. It's a long and detailed process. "So many steps -- that's why I get annoyed when people say, 'Oh, those are just cast like they fall out of a machine,'" Baker said.
Jewelry first sparked Baker's interest in college. "My first piece of jewelry was when I was at a party in the 70's, and there was wax from a candle on a table and I picked up a piece of wax and pulled it and stretched it and from that moment I was hooked," he said.
He's had multiple jewelry businesses and started this one four years ago -- and it's on a roll. He sells thousands of pieces a year in stores across the U.S. Sales doubled last year and Baker expects them to double again this year. The most sought after design -- his serpent earrings.
Reporter Gina Bullard: They definitely make a statement.
Bruce Baker: They definitely make a statement, and there's a crossover with motorcycle Sons of Anarchy -- it's that look people like.
There may not be too many serpents here, but Baker says it's a great place to create his Made in Vermont pieces. "My jewelry is so nature-based. It's a great place to see nature, you don't get that feeling in Central Park," he said.