Lucky 13 in Dexter
Two new artisan studios
by Sally Mitani
The year 2013 has been a lucky one for the arts in Dexter.
As its name and elaborate Spencerian logo suggest, D. Fitzgerald's Fine Jewelry is indeed a purveyor of fine, classic jewelry--those are diamond solitaires under glass in the display cases. But there's a surprising twist to the story.
Frequently hanging out behind the counter or in the back workshop is veterinarian Thomas Maves, whose Village Animal Clinic of Dexter is in the historic brick house a few blocks away. He's learning to be a jeweler. Teaching him is his best friend of forty years, Douglas Fitzgerald Owen, for whom the store is named.
Both are originally from Tecumseh. Owen is an award-winning jeweler who for the last few decades has been working in Arizona but who wanted to relocate to Michigan. Maves reckoned that the growing affluence of Dexter had reached a critical mass that could support a real rock shop. So he not only backed his friend but decided he wanted to learn his craft. (Maves is not giving up animal doctoring, but the practice is going so well he's mainly supervising other vets these days.)
Most of the jewelry isn't Owen's work yet--"sometimes people aren't going to go the custom route," and he "needed stuff!" He carries mounts, stones, and ready-to-wear jewelry, starting as low as $50, but custom pieces could conceivably run up to $50,000.
Asked if he's made any contribution to the jewelry case yet, Maves says, "Hey, give me a break! I've only been here three days!"
"It takes about fifteen years to become a good wax carver," adds Owen, showing off a box of his own carvings that will eventually be cast into silver, gold, platinum, or even cobalt or titanium.
Owen says his own tastes tend toward "abstract and asymmetrical." As for stones, Maves offers that "diamonds never go out of style," though Owen confesses that "personally, I like the off-the-wall stuff." He pulls some of his current favorite rocks out of the display
case: "Rutilated quartz with little rods of gold. Here's some tanzanite--it looks like a sapphire. This pink one is morganite." Some of the most expensive precious stones, he feels, are a little overrated. "After all, a ruby is nothing more than a red sapphire," he sniffs.
D. Fitzgerald's Fine Jewelry, 3207 Broad St., 424-9960. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and by appointment. dfitzgeraldsfinejewelry.com.
Holding down the under-$100 side of the art world is Hoard Studios, on the sunny second floor of Main Street above the Home Store.
"Hoard" doesn't refer to hoarding--it's named after owner and artist Sandy Hoard. The meticulously arranged walls, shelves, and cupboards house a very careful selection of art and crafts that is a little earthy, a little retro, and frankly nepotistic. Hoard's two daughters are also artists, as is her sister, and about three-quarters of the art on display here is generated by her or someone who shares her DNA.
Self-taught "except for a couple of classes in community college now and then," Hoard does the flowing, fantastically colored pen-and-ink drawings that deck the walls. When she tires of drawing, she sews one-of-a-kind bags and purses, pairing surprising combinations of fabrics, like bold geometrics with flowery chintz. And sometimes she plays with beads and wire; an antique case is filled with her simple earrings in the $12-15 range. Daughter Chelsea, twenty-six, makes silver jewelry "using teeny little saws," as Sandy calls them, to make lattices and cutouts. Haley, her other daughter, just graduated from the U-M art school, and is a paper artist. Her books and boxes take up another few shelves. Non-family wares include black-and-white abstract ceramics by Tara Byczynski-Davis and lamps with shades made from reproduction 1950s fabrics.
Hoard moved to Dexter last year when her husband, Greg Hoard, an electric lineman, got a job in Detroit. "Don't call them telephone poles," says Sandy, "they're called power poles, but yes, he's one of those guys who climbs them."
Hoard Studios, 8120 Main St., Suite 201. 726-4386. Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m-5 p.m. Closed Sun. & Mon. hoardstudios.com
[Originally published in December, 2013.]