|Ramona Lorraine Solberg|
May 10, 1921|
Watertown, South Dakota, US
June 13, 2005 (aged 84)|
Seattle, Washington, US
|Occupation||jewelry designer, teacher|
|Known for||substantial, innovative jewelry design|
Ramona Solberg (1921–2005) created large jewellery using found objects; she was an influential teacher at the University of Washington School of Art and often referred to as the "grandmother of Northwest found-art jewelry". She was an art instructor in and around Seattle for three decades as well as a prolific jewelry artist.
Ramona Lorraine Solberg was born 10 May 1921, in Watertown, South Dakota, but her family relocated to Seattle, Washington before Solberg's second birthday. She enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in 1943 during the Second World War and served until 1950. Using her G.I. Bill benefits, she went to Morelia and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and studied jewelry making and weaving at several universities. Then she went to Norway and worked with enameling. Returning to the US, she completed both a bachelor's and a master's degree at the University of Washington and studied with Ruth Pennington.
From 1951 to 1956 Solberg taught at James Monroe Jr. High School, and then worked until 1967 as an associate professor at Central Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington. From that time until her 1983 retirement, Solberg was an art professor at the University of Washington.
Though Solberg made some jewelry in her studies, she did not create her first piece of jewelry using beads and found objects until 1956, while at Central Washington State College. Her jewelry was large, rather than typical delicate, precious jewelry. She created her jewelry to be worn and to be worn by large women.
In the 1960s, she began traveling. Her first round-the-world trip included visits to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Nepal, picking up beads at every stop. When she returned, she published a book Inventive Jewelry Making in 1972. Solberg and a Seattle group called Friends of the Crafts began making annual travels through Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and even one trip to Antarctica to both study crafts in other areas and obtain artifacts that could be used in their own works.
Solberg was honored as a Fellow of the Council by the American Craft Council for leadership and ability as an artist and/or teacher. Craft historian Vicki Halper curated a 2001-2002 major traveling exhibition, and wrote a comprehensive, illustrated accompanying publication, after conducting an extensive (35 page transcribed) oral history.
Solberg was still working on jewelry right up to her death. She died 13 June 2005 in Seattle, Washington.
- Halper, Vicki (2001). Findings : the jewelry of Ramona Solberg. Seattle: Bank of America in association with the University of Washington Press. ISBN 0295981571.
- Hackett, Regina (June 15, 2005). "Ramona Solberg, 1921–2005: The grandmother of Northwest found-art jewelry". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Rahner, Mark (June 16, 2005). "Ramona Solberg, jeweler, teacher, world traveler, dies". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Halper, Vicki (23 March 2001). "Oral history interview with Ramona Solberg, 2001 March 23". Seattle, Washington: Archives of American Art. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- American Craft Council College of Fellows Archived 2013-04-30 at the Wayback Machine.