Meet the artistic Stefanie Wolf, founder of Stefanie Wolf Designs a jewelry company that specializes in glass beads, who helps make Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard a destination sparkling with creativity.
While studying in San Francisco, Stefanie Wolf spent her free time making jewelry as a hobby. She would go to a bead supplier in San Francisco and buy them out of these very specific rectangular glass beads. It got to a point where she decided to fly to the Czech Republic and introduce herself directly to this artisan who makes these rectangular glass beads. Her passion for this colorful glass bead unique to this Czech region became the foundation of her brand Stefanie Wolf Designs. Today she works out of her studio in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, crafting the necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that grace the necks, wrists, and ears of locals and tourists alike—including myself!
I first met Stefanie Wolf outside of her studio located in a cottage built in 1703 in the heart of Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard. She had a trunk show happening out on the lawn, a frequent occurrence during COVID to help lure shoppers inside. Her glass jewelry glistened in the sun capturing my attention. As soon as Stefanie stepped onto the lawn, I could tell she was a captivating personality. How best to describe her? Let’s see. I consider myself a big, bubbly personality, but next to her I feel small (in a good way). She has an even bigger personality and even bigger ideas. She took us upstairs to her second floor studio located in the heart of Edgartown. The 300 year old cottage hadn’t changed a bit in the inside, the hall was small and the ceilings short. I believe the building is considered the oldest commercial building on the street.
As we walked into the studio I immediately began to huddle over the table of string necklaces in the center. The glass bead snowflakes and necklaces hanging from the a wooden branch in the center display shimmered in the afternoon light and glowed like living pearls. My eyes were drawn to the multitude of colorful shiny glass beads, a mix of opaque and iridescent capri blues, aqua teal swirls, blush pinks, lilac purples, amber tortoise, and light topaz glass. “All of your pieces are so beautiful,” I tell her, looking at the necklaces, bracelets, and earrings arranged in rainbow colored order around the room alongside bowls, locally made candles, and soaps.
No two pieces were exactly alike–each one was unique, of course. Each bead was different and cut and made in the Czech Republic where glass making is an age-old cottage industry, almost all reproductions are made by hand with original molds and colors so they have the look and feel of vintage beads, but are much more reasonably priced. Even the production on island is handmade, nothing is machine made. Stefanie and five local women work day in and day out to make the jewelry one-by-one.
What do glass beads feel like?
Remember these are glass, not plastic, beads. So the feeling is what you would expect, a highly polished and smooth texture that is sometimes glossy and sometimes opaque, and very light weight. I love how cool and soft they feel on the body. Sometimes Stefanie plays around with the shape and it completely changes the feel to the bead (in a cool way), but it is smooth none the less.
Stefanie runs her fingers through a big black box filled with blue, green, and milky white glass beads. Ever since COVID hit, she’s been producing as many new products as she can per month and ramped up her e-commerce. Just this July 2020, she created two new collections. She’s gained momentum and interest in her jewelry and locally sold products (specifically the locally sourced fun designed masks) so has been taking as many orders as she can fill.
Stefanie pulled out a string of pale blue rectangular glass beads that combined to make a very long necklace and laid it on top of her chest. This was her best-selling piece and its simplicity never wears. What makes it so unique is that you can wear it 7 different ways both as a necklace and as a bracelet. The necklace came in solid colors and multiple colors mixed and matched. She had so many different versions, I couldn’t count them all.
Her jewelry is made possible thanks to her large collection of beads and the inspiration she finds designing jewelry among the many pieces in her store and studio. When she touches and feels the product, each piece of glass is unique and has its own personality, it tells her what it wants to become. Her store features a tall, white apothecary table containing thousands of glass beads. Not only does she sell her jewelry, but she teaches jewelry-making classes as well and does private DIY create and sip classes (sign me up!), where she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained over the many years she has been making jewelry.
Ever wonder what goes on behind these scenes of these small local studios? Stefanie welcomed us into her small studio tucked away at the back of the store and gave Pat and I an inside look at her workspace, process, and new works for her upcoming collections. A couple of Stephanie’s colleagues sit around a communal workstation. Imagine a small room full of glass beads with shelves piled to the ceiling with black boxes marked purple, light sky, red, avocado, multi teardrop for cascade, rectangle beads, round beads, crystal quark, and so on. Not only was the room filled with beads, but the adjacent bathroom had a bathtub filled with beads as well (and an empty bottle of wine…we all need a little help making the magic happen on those late nights)! Stefanie was so transparent in showing us all the secrets, messy and not, in her studio and office. She couldn’t have been lovelier or more down to earth.
I wanted to try everything. Stefanie would lift out entire trays, letting me touch the beads, try them, and admire the results along with Patrick as he watched, bemused. I would occasionally stretch out my arm in front of him, jiggling my wrists under the flood lights. Colors glistened and flashed from the jewelry. “They’re super nice and shiny,” Pat approved.
In addition to showcasing some of her staple and unique glass jewelry pieces, such as the wampum shell inspired necklace native to the Martha’s Vineyard region, she went on to spotlight some of her favorite local products she’s incorporated into the store. There was an excitement in her voice that was hard to forget as she walked by different local products in her store, picked them up, and proceeded to tell us all about why they are so special:
- Locally made candles made on Martha’s Vineyard
- Bowls with the Martha’s Vineyard island carved inside and overlaid with leftover melted glass beads
- Locally made orange peel hand sanitizers
- Handmade books and blessings by a local writer and bookmaker named Ingrid based in Chilmark
- Stickers with a map of the island commissioned by a local artist
- Soaps made on the Cape that are sea glass inspired
- Fun designed and breathable face masks
As she went on about all the locally sourced products from her neighboring artisans, it was clear she is deeply thoughtful and considers so many before herself. That’s the kind of character and personality she brought to her stories during our visit and to her store.
Stefanie Wolf Design’s creations are the easiest way to elevate your everyday look. Whether it’s adding an armful of bracelets to liven up a jeans-and-tee combo, or layering necklaces to add a little excitement to a neutral one piece, Stefanie Wolf’s glass bead jewelry is a low key–and affordable–addition that takes your look from stale to chic in a matter of seconds.
>> Next: Meet the West Tisbury Farmers Market’s Artisans & Farmers
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