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Betty Cooke is known in Baltimore as the owner of Store, Ltd, and her incredible jewelry design. The 95-year-old Cooke has been working in jewelry design for 75 years. She sat down with Baltimore Fishbowl for an interview about her design philosophy and more.

When asked about one of her earliest memories regarding jewelry, Cooke said, "That’s an interesting question. I don’t have a specific jewelry memory from childhood. But I have always been interested in all kinds of objects, whether it’s jewelry or pots or baskets. And I was interested in both the objects themselves and in how they were made. More than jewelry itself, I liked the act of adornment. I wasn’t interested in diamonds and rubies but I loved to pick things up and wear them."


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Cooke was then asked about how she got into the jewelry industry, and whether it was a gradual process. "Well, at MICA/the Maryland Institute, I started in painting, but I worked in wood and metals, all kinds of materials. And I liked working with metal, but I have to admit I liked working with everything, all the materials I was introduced to. But it was the wearable metal pieces that people liked best. And the more people liked them, the more I continued to make them. I think I liked knowing that people like them. That was an exciting thing to see. They wore the work and the work got noticed, people reacted to it. I found that my customers liked having a simple signal or symbol to wear," said Cooke.

When asked for her philosophy on good jewelry design, Cooke said, "That’s a big question, but I think you can find good design in every culture, every kind of material. I mean, it goes way back. You can say it in the Egyptian Pyramids and cave paintings, those are both examples of good design. It’s a quality that I think people find hard to describe. And there’s no one way to describe it. It’s clear to me when something is poorly designed. It’s about color and space and layout. It can also be about comfort, especially when it’s furniture or clothing. But for me, it’s also about something intuitive. A lot of what is considered good design, like work coming out of the Bauhaus Movement, was new and different and extraordinary, but it was too austere and cold for me. I wanted to make things that had some warmth, things that were playful."

Information originally sourced from Baltimore Fishbowl.