When Beth Benowich first began making jewelry nearly 14 years ago, her goal was simple – to fill up her jewelry box. Today, she is an acclaimed jeweler and successful entrepreneur who helps others fill their jewelry boxes with her contemporary necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and pendants.
Beth is one of nearly 100 artists who will exhibit and sell their work during the Arizona Fine Art EXPO in north Scottsdale. Now in its 14th year, the popular fine art show begins Friday, Jan. 12 and runs through Sunday, March 25, from 10 am to 6 pm. daily under the “festive white tents” at 26540 N. Scottsdale Road, on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Jomax Roads, next to MacDonald’s Ranch.
The event features 115 patron-friendly studios within a 44,000 square-foot space, where guests have a rare chance to meet the artists, see them in action, and learn about their passion, inspiration and techniques.
Creating Beauty from Wax
Beth grew up in a Jewish family in the Bronx, one of the New York City’s five boroughs. While she celebrates many Jewish traditions, she is more spiritual than religious.
She earned a master of social work from Fordham University and spent more than eight years running a summer travel camp for middle-school students. She was always fascinated with jewelry and decided to close the camp in 2004 and take jewelry making and design classes in New York City. As she honed her skills further, she launched her business, BBDesigns.
She and her husband moved to Cave Creek in 2011, and the desert inspired her to explore different techniques and designs. She specializes in lost wax casting, and while most jewelers carve hard wax, she prefers working in soft wax because of its fluidity.
“My work has evolved tremendously since I started making jewelry,” says Beth. “I have not been afraid to push myself out of the box. I love to experiment, and so many things inspire me, including nature and texture. People also inspire me. Last year, a client’s children won a costume contest at the Renaissance Festival. They gave me lace from each costume, and I designed a contemporary flower lace pendant with a freshwater pearl and another lace pendant for them using sterling silver, turquoise and coral.”
Beth explains that anything that will burn can be casted. “Using what my client gave me as an example, the lace along with the wax that has been infused into the back of the lace burns away while in the kiln. This process is called lost-wax casting. Then after it was removed from the kiln and placed into a centrifuge, centrifugal force caused the metal to be shot into a flask, filling a void that was left from the lace,” she explains, adding that each flask gives birth to a new design.
She loves working with silver and gold, and she recently began experimenting with Keum-boo, an ancient Korean gilding technique used to apply thin sheets of 24-karat gold to fine silver. Patrons visiting the Arizona Fine Art EXPO can see this technique incorporated into some of her new designs and her new flower collection using solid 22-karat and sterling silver jewelry. Her prices range from $80 for earrings to several thousand dollars for more complex gold designs.
Many of her pieces also include some of her favorite natural stones, including opals, tourmalines, sapphires, garnets and druzy stones.
She also embraces any chance to share her passion for jewelry with others. “I tell all my customers that I make the jewelry for me and that I share it with them,” Beth says with a laugh, adding that she also does custom work for clients.
New Culinary and Art Demonstrations
Judi Combs, founding partner of the Arizona Fine Art EXPO, said Beth is always a big draw for the event.
“Beth’s work is stunning, and the EXPO offers a rare chance to see how she works,” Judi says. “We’re also very excited to offer a new schedule of chef and art demonstrations that will be educational and exhilarating to watch.”
Two contemporary glass artists, Gregory Tomb and Anthony Barbano, will conduct glassblowing demonstrations throughout the 10-week show. In addition, Gregory will offer glassblowing and glass fusing classes. More information about the classes will be posted soon. Also, Scott Shangraw, an acclaimed wood carver from New Mexico, will conduct chainsaw sculpture demonstrations on Feb. 3, 17 and 24.
Also, new this year, the EXPO is proudly introducing Chef Giancarlo Stefanutto and owner Glenn Wagner of Sogno Toscano vineyard of Italy. Chef Giancarlo will demonstrate and share samples of delicious edibles on Saturday, Jan. 20 and Feb. 10.
Patrons can also stroll throughout an enhanced two-acre sculpture garden, which will feature nearly 20 stone, metal, glass and mixed media sculptures.
Season passes for the Arizona Fine Art EXPO cost $10; season passes for seniors and military are $8, and children under 12 are free. Parking is free. For more details about participating artists or events during the show, call 480-837-7163 or visit ArizonaFineArtEXPO.com.