Barbara & Rick Umbel
"Moving to the beach in 1996 had a profound effect on my artistic style. Walking along the water's edge in my new home turned up all kinds of colorful seashells. I was mesmerized by the sea urchins that washed up- the color variations and precise geometry drew me to use them in my work.
I grew up in Baltimore, and went to college at Towson State University to study art. Fortunately, they had an excellent metals studio, and I spent 5 years in the Towson studio working on my Bachelor's degree in art, as well as taking a business minor.
Before I graduated I was approached by a goldsmith in Frederick, Maryland who was seeking an apprentice. I worked in his studio for a year and acquired valuable experience. During this time I took several workshops at regional craft schools to work on specific skills such as fabrication and stone setting.
Soon I was itching to get out on my own, and create my own designs. I took on a series of part time waitress jobs to pay my way by working at night, so that I could practice metals technique during the day. A happy circumstance of that journey was meeting Rick, my husband and business partner. He was the sous chef at the restaurant where we met, and is still a fabulous cook. Cooking together is one of our favorite pastimes.
When we got married in 2001, I took on the challenge of teaching my first student- my new husband. Rick learned the trade quickly and now produces half of the work that we design together in our studio."