Wild Gatherings

Turner, Oregon
United States

Hello! I'm Shirley. Welcome to my Wild Gatherings. I truly appreciate you being here! I create functional and decorative metal art & jewelry, using mostly old-school techniques. I specialize in kiln- and torch-fired vitreous enamel on copper & silver. Gemstones are a passion for me, as is re-purposing metals into items for decor or dress. I value integrity. My motto - be curious and ask questions. My mantra - think kind thoughts, and watch your words - they become your destiny.
Shirley Walle  
~ Torchsmith • Enamelist • Arcadian • Wonderer 
Learn more about my story below.

Continuing the Journey

I moved to the beautiful Pacific Northwest in 1974. I love Oregon's high desert; the humbling Badlands of ancient Juniper Trees; Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja), Woolly Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), and willow-saturated marshlands created by the ever-eager beaver. I also appreciate and become recharged within the dark and damp secrecy of Oregon's rain forests. Alright, enough with the poetic stuff. I won't tell you that I am "nature inspired" because, well, aren't we all? I like to fix things. I enjoy creating something out of very little. I thrive on being resourceful, inventive, innovative, and original.

My first soldering experience was for a school project at age 13 - a very intricate miniature three-wheeled surrey with moving wheels, a steering rod, and twisted-wire fringe on top. My dad, Willard, was very supportive of my "playing" in the garage. He would set me up with a soldering gun, a lathe, a saw, hammer and nails, or whatever I needed. I learned at an early age, by example, that I could do anything. If I didn't quite know how, I would figure it out.

My love for small things: For several years when I was little, we would visit my grandma and grandpa. The first thing I would do after arriving at their home was go into the kitchen to a special place on the counter to see if Grandma had saved any tiny bottles for me. The smaller the better, and they were like treasures to me. I still love tiny things and my little enameled copper bowls and tiny copper trinket boxes reflect this. I also still love tiny bottles ~ I used a tiny gem-filled bottle as the object chamber for one of my handmade kaleidoscopes. I also enjoyed painting miniature watercolors, the smaller the better.

WILD GATHERINGS ~ How Wild Gatherings came about: In 1993 I was preparing to engage in my very first craft booth at the local year-round Public Market in Salem, Oregon. I was creating lists of items that I could make to sell. On one of the lists were objects I could collect in the wild such as seeds, sage, wildflower bouquets, etc. At the top of this particular list I entered the title, "Wild Gatherings". The name stuck and became all-encompassing for the many aspects of my craft. For the next ten years or so, I maintained an art & craft booth and participated in local Saturday Markets as well as art and craft shows in the Pacific Northwest and Southern-to-Northern California ~ offering a myriad of handmade creations: kaleidoscopes (copper or stained glass), obsidian needle chimes (I dug the obsidian needles myself at Davis Creek, CA), perfumes and soaps, copper olive oil lamps, geode aromatherapy diffusers, bud vases made out of old silverware, handmade cone incense [yes, I formed each cone, one at a time, by hand], beeswax & soy wax candles, and many other articrafts. My Wild Gatherings booth won the "Most Excellent Merchant's Display Of The Faire" at the 1997 Valhalla Renaissance Festival at Lake Tahoe. I was proud to be featured in local newspapers, as well.

I've been fascinated by copper and it's many uses. Back in the '80's my stepmom gifted me a small copper-enameling kiln along with some copper blanks and a few samplings of enamels. I kept it all, just in case I might want to do something with it some day.

Fast forward to 2014. I offered myself the choice to either part with my stash, or build a space where I could be creative with the materials that I had hoarded for so long. Thus, I built my atelier ~ complete with hot & cold running water, two skylights, a vaulted ceiling, and a crystal chandelier.

FORMAL TRAINING: I was an art major in school. For two years in the early nineties I trained with an old master Silversmith in the art of sterling silver lost wax casting and sterling fabrication. Through experimentation, detail observation, reading, successes, and many ah-hah! moments, I am primarily self taught with more than a half-century of experience.

FOR THE BLIND and/or VISUALLY IMPAIRED: For fourteen years I was a computer graphic artist, creating tactile graphics for higher education math textbooks for college students who are blind. I have read, cover to cover, dozens of calculus, algebra, physics, chemistry, and statistics textbooks, and created - on a computer - a tactile representation of every diagram in each book, complete with braille labels. The diagrams were embossed on a special braille printer and inserted into a [huge] braille rendition of the textbook. I incorporate Braille into some of my jewelry. The term "I am enough" is particularly appropriate.

I compose my work from raw, reclaimed, or recycled copper; .999 fine silver; .935 Argentium Silver; .925 Sterling Silver; sterling findings; vitreous lead-free enamel powders and frit; and various re-claimed metals and materials. Enameled pieces are either torch or kiln-fired. I love wild things like lichen, moss, rough tree bark, insects, and flowing streams. I aspire for these textural elements to be reflected in my ever-evolving Wild Gatherings. Thank you for supporting an independent artist, and for taking the time to learn what "handmade" truly means. Shop small. Support independent artists and businesses. Be kind, take care, and fare well.


High quality, and exactly what I was looking for. Shipped promptly and arrived in excellent condition.
Shirley, I just wanted to share with you about the enamel copper trinket bowl you mailed to my sister. She has been in a tailspin, fighting depression after the death of her son, and she was dreading her birthday. The gift of the trinket dish arrived at her door the morning of her birthday, and she LOVED it. She remembered you from a visit she made to Salem 2 years ago and had bought earrings from you at a craft show. Receiving this beautiful artwork turned her day around completely for the better. That is the power of art and beauty...thank you for your part in brightening her day. I highly recommend this product to anyone looking for a unique, quality gift, or as a treat to themselves.
My wife was so delighted to receive this copper trinket box for her birthday. She loves miniatures of all kinds, and this little box is right up her alley. She uses it to store her favorite rings, or earrings, or she uses it to display a special agate. She says the exquisite detail of the etched copper enhances the beauty of anything placed inside the box. There is a tiny semi-precious stone inlaid on the top, as well. My wife and I highly recommend this copper trinket box as a special gift to that special person. This unique piece of art is of the same excellent quality as everything else you will find in Wild Gatherings.
I bought a beautiful tiny trinket box for a friend's birthday. She is very hard to buy for and she LOVED the box. She loves little boxes and places for treasures and was thrilled with her box. It was wonderfully crafted and so unique.
I bought this for a granddaughter, who has a collection of hinged boxes. What a treasure! This one-of-a-kind box will certainly add to her collection.
If I had to pick just one word that described these earrings, it would be "exquisite!" Every time I wear them, I get complimented on them.
This pendant is absolutely beautiful!! I wore it right away and got a few compliments when I went out!! The seller (Shirley) was so sweet to interact with. I would definitely purchase from her again! :)
These earrings are truly wonderful! The colors are incredible and the shimmer in the light fantastic. They are light and comfortable to wear. I'm so happy with my purchase!
Beautiful earrings! Quality craftsmanship! Garnet is my birthstone. :-) Excellent communication with shop owner. Fast shipping! Perfect. Thank you!
Ordered a beautiful little trinket dish for my sister who always takes her wedding ring off to wash her hands. So this sweet colorful mini bowel is in her kitchen to remind her to put her ring in it.
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