A Nevada native turns to nature’s canvas, seeking elements for her one-of-a-kind jewelry. Charity Wanechek’s love of lithics began some three decades ago in Yerington, a small Nevada community rich in minerals.
“As a kid, I obviously had a rock obsession like most people in this type of occupation,” Charity said. “I actually used to sit out in the gravel in [my friend’s] driveway and look for rocks. We were pretty sure we were rich because we were finding tons of fool’s gold in all the gravel.”
Charity loves the outdoors and animals. In college, she decided to study veterinary science. To balance the required rigorous courses, she also took jewelry design, not realizing it would later become her profession.
“At one point, my instructor pulled me aside and said that if, for some reason, I decided to not pursue veterinary medicine, he felt like I could have a home in the career of metalsmithing,” Charity said. “I was so sad when that class was over.”
She continued her animal science studies and bought a few jewelry tools as money allowed.
Charity finished her degree and became a licensed veterinary technician in rural Washington. She also married and had a child.
When her son, Zephyr Bodie was a few months old, her husband gave her some money to buy herself something nice. She was still at home with the baby before going back to work. Charity perused Amazon looking for a piece of jewelry. She became frustrated because she knew her work was better. In her heart, the creativity bug was still gnawing away.
“I thought, ‘You know what? I am going to start making jewelry,’” she said. “I ordered stuff at two in the morning while holding my son.”
In the morning, she told Arron, her husband, that she was starting her own silversmithing business. That was two years ago.
It had been a long time since she had taken her jewelry classes, but Charity set to work, making ornamental pieces and learning new techniques. Her online sales started taking off, so she decided to quit her regular job.
Charity works from her garage studio. She uses a traditional piñon Navajo-tree stump for metal stamping. She also has a large selection of handmade Navajo metal stamps.
“I am very passionate about my job and what I do,” Charity said. “I specifically set materials from Nevada, my home state, from Washington, my adult home state, and from Montana, which is like a third home.”
Charity is working on building her Nevada turquoise collection and hopes to one day have samples from every mine in the state. She has set stones from at least 30 mines.
“Nevada turquoise is considered to be the best in the world,” she said.
The artist marries metal and stone, creating pieces that are partnered in lasting beauty. Other touches include oxidizing the metal, producing patinas in copper and rust tones, making the piece feel like it was just recovered after being buried for years in a ghost town.
“I enjoy that finishing touch,” she says. “Sometimes, I get rainbows out of metal.”
Charity sells her work through her website ghosttownmetalworks.com, at various shows and at the Eureka Restoration Enterprise located at 180 N. Main St. in Eureka.