By Claire Harlin
The Living Studio owner Elizabeth Levine has a passion for things that come from the earth, and it’s only half of what makes the jewelry artist so down to earth.
Almost everything you will find in the Del Mar boutique is inspired by the natural world, from jewelry made of stones to terrariums to organic handmade fabrics.
“There’s not a lot of bling in here,” said Levine, of Rancho Santa Fe. “I’m not into blingy things. I like more earthy and organic.”
The Living Studio is a new and unique addition to the Del Mar Village. The jewelry and art boutique, located at 1011 Camino Del Mar, Suite 100, opened in October and has filled its walls with original artwork, jewelry and other collectable items by a number of local artists, including herself. She even teaches workshops on making terrariums, her specialty crafts that can be seen hanging in the window of the shop.
It may come as a surprise if you saw her work, but Levine, although full of life and passionate about her craft, hasn’t always been a jewelry artist. The space was once used as her photography studio, where she specialized in photographing people with their pets.
She was forced to suspend that creative outlet, however, when she was diagnosed with cancer and had trouble lifting the heavy photography equipment. Levine said treatment slowed her down, but she made the most of it.
Not only did Levine start making jewelry, but she developed a business plan for the shop.
“While in chemo all these ideas came to me,” she said. “All the other patients were drugged out and I was there in bed with my iPad writing my business plan.”
A main aspect of the plan was to include workshops because Levine said she always loved the teaching part of photography. She holds terrarium workshops twice a week, and her shop will be offering an array of classes in May.
Levine, a former healthcare practitioner who holds two master’s degrees, said she envisioned “a shop where people could find beautifully crafted pieces made by talented local artists and inspired by the natural world.”
She said she is very selective in choosing artists to feature in the shop, and she bases her decision of both talent and how well the art fits into the earthy vibe.
“I hone in on the really good artists,” she said. “Art that I think people will like.”
A few of her most popular artists include Sadie Allison of Koi Design Studio, who makes fashion-forward jewelry designed to complement the earth and ocean. Also featured are Sydney LaSasso, an up-and-coming designer who makes jewelry completely out of old car parts, and William Leslie, who is well-known for his sculptural lighting fixtures made from wood and paper.
On April 29, from 2 to 5 p.m., The Living Studio will host a wine and cheese event for the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and donate 10 percent of sales to the nonprofit. The Living Studio also regularly donates a portion of sales to the Helen Woodward Animal Center. To contact the shop, call (858) 259-1011 or visit www.thelivingstudio.net.