Douglas Magnus - The Spirit of a Studio

C O N T E M P O R A R Y  H E I R L O O M S

D O U G L A S  M A G N U S  fell under the spell of Santa Fe back in the late 1960's. He'd just finished his stint in the army - he'd been drafted when he "flunked" out of school - and wended his way to New Mexico in his 58' VW. He was immediately smitten, started taking photographs, and basically never looked back.

"It was such a golden age for Santa Fe back then," recalls Magnus. "The highway from ABQ was 2 lanes; there was still so much of the old culture; and the beautiful people weren't here yet. It was wild and fun and so foreign to me having grown up in L.A.."

Photos by C. Whitney-Ward

His handsome photographs pepper the walls of his studio and home.

Somewhere along the way, he
began to paint.

And he had an epiphany. "I saw someone making buttons from old coins and decided that I could make jewelry, " recalls Magnus, who admits to being self-taught, but determined. He bought a jewelry saw, a sheet of copper and made his first concho belt. 

And he became enthralled with Turquoise, so much so that he bought several old turquoise mines in Cerrillos, New Mexico. The same mines plumbed by the ancient Mixtec, Aztec and Anasazi peoples, and in the late 19th century, by the  Tiffany Company.

"I feel a direct connection to those ancient people," says Magnus. "It's a privilege to be working with these rare, remaining pieces of turquoise. My mission is to create the most beautiful things I can."

His work and his vernacular over time have evolved from traditional Southwest designs to a more fluid, contemporary style of jewelry.

First comes the idea and then the sketch. Then, for Magnus, the seriously fun part - creating the die. "These die tools are unlike any I've ever made. They allow me to expand on my Southwestern design techniques."

He 'carves' the design...

Tests it on leather strips...

And when the die is just so, the jewelry is created.

And when not in his studio, he and partner Dana Waldon are enjoying their amazing eclectic home  - click on this link to go to Chasing post on Dana and their house -  filled with equally amazing vintage finds.

D O U G L A S  M A G N U S  D E S I G N S

Santa FE, NM

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