Surfingsilver Waters Run Deep: Rita Ford
I’m a firm believer in the idea that your talents will always find you no matter how much life sweeps you up, or how hard you try to deny them. Maybe it was a hidden music talent, or sport, or whatever it might have been that you couldn’t wait to do as a child; that thing you were a natural at, that brought a freedom to you which you still can’t describe. And as adulthood takes over, life becomes beautiful and tricky, where there are many things to be accomplished and unfortunately some of your favorite things to do have to be put to the side at some point because “life is what happens when you make other plans.” And although we have many life experiences, be it career or marriage and children that are achieved and are fulfilling, there will come a time when your talent will come looking for you in order for you to have a full circle with that special form of expression that is meant only for you. The designs of Surfingsilver jewelry are Rita Ford’s full circle of her hidden talent of art. At 58, this budding entrepreneur has created a line of jewelry that captures not just waves of surf or children’s drawings, but also captures Rita’s delicate and loving nature that found new expression through the art of silver carving and jewelry design.
Rita has essentially been blessed with two lives in one. She has indeed lived a very fulfilling life where this Southern California native, went from dental assistant, to doting wife at 19, to consummate mother of four children all before she was 30. She planned for being a hands-on mother to her three daughters and one son, and loved being a stay-at-home Mom, achieving that goal she always wanted of being there for her family. And as her children were on their way into their own lives, Rita found herself with a yearning to explore that thing she wasn’t really able to do in her youth, art, and so began the other life beckoning for her to lead. She started with some traditional art classes, which led her to wanting to go beyond basic drawing and painting skills. She then took a portrait class with a teacher that inspired her to go even further. The teacher told her to focus her talents in design, leaving her with words she still thinks about today: “Art without design is like baking a cake without a recipe.” And with that, she was encouraged to go to college, which she did at the age of 41. Being supported greatly by professors and younger students alike, Ford continued her more in-depth art classes, and found she really enjoyed the challenge of working with watercolors and acrylic paints, as well as the challenge of painting architecture. Though she decided to stop her schooling to help her children out with their families, the gift of art would come back to Rita again in due course. At 56, with her children settled in with their own families, Rita was drawn into the craftsmanship of silver after seeing this art show on TV that was doing a segment on Precious Metal Clay (PMC) artwork, and she just knew then and there it was something she wanted to do herself. Ford took the classes needed to get guild certified, and was selling her Surfingsilver jewelry on Etsy.com, a website for handcrafted goods, within months of deciding silver artistry was for her.
I do believe the idea of a challenge is really what propels Rita Ford through whatever she does, though she may mask her tenacity a bit by being very sweet and humble about her life, lovingly touting how wonderful her children are and supportive her husband is. But humility aside, Rita always had a drive to fulfill her talent in art, which needed to find its way out. She let me know how she was just 3 years old when she ambitiously drew a mural of family members on a closet door, and how she was always drawing faces and people in her childhood; though it was never taken seriously coming from a large family of 5 other siblings. So it makes complete sense that Rita has finally come into her own with art. Ford enjoys working with silver over other types of mediums such as painting, because of the finite work and designing skill it takes to create a given piece, and she loves the discovery aspect to the mechanics of silver work, which then enables her other art skills to develop.
Where this very nurturing mother gets her love for challenges and a sincere respect for discovery and the metal with which she works, is probably genetic being that Rita is the daughter of racing equipment pioneer/fuel specialist/inventor, Tony Capanna, who you may know was the first person to build a car that could go 99 miles per gallon years before its time. So it also make complete sense how Rita very easily picked up her craft and does it with an organic, fluid style and proficiency. Her once labor of love for making meaningful jewelry, has since turned Surfingsilver into a growing business that even Rita is surprised by. She had no idea that her ability to put children’s artwork onto silver for a keepsake key chain would be what put her on the map of a “Must Have” list. Rita just loves the art of it all. When she speaks about her silver work there is a glimmer in her voice, the same as when she spoke of her husband and children. And there is a similar sparkle to her when she describes the things that inspire her creations, like the water and waves, and wanting to secure in silver that perfect wave an avid surfer wants to remember. Or how she loves the process of collaborating and connecting with a customer to create a very personalized piece with hidden meanings, or a memorial piece honoring a passed loved one.
Surfingsilver Jewelry is the kind of jewelry people should want: Pieces that are designed out of nurturing concern and loving energy--which is exactly what Rita creates, loving works of art. It takes an inner perseverance to come full circle into your gifts at any age, and Rita Ford has done just that. She is one of the lucky ones that lives the best of both worlds, being able to experience the love and joy of her family, and the other expression of love she has through her art.
Originally published in DStripped Magazine
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