THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Corina Contemporary Jewelry and Fine Crafts
Initially I was drawn into her shop by the brilliant swirls of sterling silver jewelry in the storefront window display. When I entered Corina Contemporary Jewelry and Fine Crafts, Candy greeted me, with her tail wagging a bit too energetically, hitting a coffee can which spilled out a few spent tea bags and some orange peels onto the floor. Corina’s smile was not far behind her, and while tidying up from Candy’s excitement, our first compost conversation began. That was about three years ago. This Spring, we picked up where we left off, with some
phone conversations to get better acquainted. After hearing a brief synopsis of Love Compost Saratoga Collaborative, Corina was elated and agreed to participate with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” She would set aside some food waste that would otherwise be going right into her backyard compost pile. We made a plan and a date to create a COMPOSiTion. It was Star that couldn’t contain her energy upon my next visit to the shop while Bijou slept submerged under his blanket, a trait of a “min pin” (miniature pincher) I found out later. Both rescues, strays, Puerto Rican street dogs, started as fosters, but are now part of Corina’s family. I was learning about the capacity for caring that surrounded me. As friends, old and new came in throughout the day, Corina listened, as they filled her in on their lives. It didn’t take me long to realize that this business was all heart, based on customer relationships grown one by one. With some comfy chairs to settle into, some sat, while others shopped and talked and purchased their new favorite piece of jewelry. With some kind words of encouragement, they each left a bit lighter and brighter. She thrives on relationships and her business is rooted in it. Corina is active and fully involved in her Ballston Spa community. She not only composts her own food scraps… but collects from her friends at the Iron Roost and Lifeworks. While I was working on my COMPOSiTion, Corina enthusiastically introduced me to everyone who entered the shop, showing my artwork in progress on her workshop floor in the back of her retail space. Her shop/studio is a renovated building, originally a garage, and has a classic concrete floor, which she graciously allowed me to occupy for the afternoon. We engaged with each other throughout the day. Her curiosity and interest in what I was doing was a constant pulse. I was unfamiliar with this kind of exuberant interaction, although it was welcomed and happily received. Amid this new kind of rhythm, a form began to emerge upon the solid cement. Corina’s love of gardening influenced the design, with her favorite flower, the grape hyacinth. We included some sprigs whose blooms turn a translucent silvery paper once their brilliant blue has faded. We took pauses and drank tea and talked about so many things. She showed me photos of some of the over twenty “pups” she has fostered, who have gone on to their “forever” homes, and then, a few of her human family and told me of where her composting began.
“My mother was the original hippie. She was very groovy, and as a young girl lived in a little village, in the north of England on the Scottish border. My grandfather gardened like crazy, and my mother was his gardening assistant… all things gardening was her thing”. Corina shares her mother’s passion, and when she moved to the states at four years old, she became that gardner’s helper, and composting was just a natural part of that.
As the day went on, there was no talk of her accolades or past achievements, though I know there are many. Corina expressed that her desire is “to make something for someone, that is durable, long lasting, and will carry their heart”. I was with an amazingly talented artist, humble, and accomplished in her craft, gifting me with her genuine interest and attention. She was immersed in the process of creating, invested as I was, and sharing the joy that open imagination brings. As we brought the day to a close, and it was time to leave, I thanked her for her extraordinary generosity and kindness of spirit. She smiled and laughed, “I had a blast!” Then we laughed together. I shared her sentiment.
Saratoga Arts made this program possible through the Community Arts Regrant Program, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.