"Creative expression for me began at age 10 when I opened my first ‘studio' in my mom's garage. This space became my escape into a world of imagination and creativity. Influenced and encouraged by both parents, I was exposed to books on the Vatican treasures and art history, as well as the music of the Beatles, Enrico Caruso, and Frank Sinatra. I spent hours drawing, playing the flute, and making puppets and other handicrafts. My studio was also a theater, and with music provided by Spike Jones, whose 78's I found in my grandfather's wine cellar, I was a hit.
"When I was still in high school, I jumped at an opportunity to take a few art classes at the University of Bridgeport. One of those classes was jewelry making. As soon as I finished my first project, I knew I would be a jeweler. I studied jewelry making and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. The stimulation of living in New York City in the 80's continued to spark my imagination as I poured myself into new discoveries--punk rock, theater, fashion, and decorative arts of antiquity.
"In 1989, I traveled to Italy to study. Inspired by my European heritage along with my passion for art and fine craft, I studied at the University of Urbino and later with Italian designers. After a year in Italy, I returned to focus on classical goldsmithing and landed a job as senior craftsman for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here I created reproductions of the jewelry pieces of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Italians.
"At the Met, I loved working in this rich, aesthetic environment, surrounded by many treasures and favorite works of art. And then, in this place that I loved, I also met the love of my life, Sean Thomas. Sean shares my love of the arts and continues to encourage me to grow in my craft. After five years at the Met, I opened a metal studio in SoHo. We relocated to Chelsea in 1997.
"Today I am immersed in making jewelry that is colorful, precious, and exciting. I am inspired by glass objects (the other liquid solid), carved wood, wrought iron, good music, and nature. I am also honored to be able to teach others the techniques of goldsmithing.
"I have spent most of my life in New York City where I was born. The city, its diverse cultures, and the arts that give it breath continue to fuel my imagination. I have traveled many creative roads since the days in my mom's garage as I continue to fulfill my artistic self. I have many more to go."
– Donna Distefano