Shape Shifter: Julie Raasch’s evolving workshop

By Katy Macek | Photographed by Hillary Schave and Shanna Wolf

Walking into Julie Raasch’s town of Primrose home, evidence of a jewelry maker is immediately present—copper materials are scattered over the living room coffee table and completed pieces adorn the kitchen table.

Raasch has been doing photography and creating jewelry for many years, moving her passion into her home overlooking a two-acre prairie garden around 2012.

It started with a darkroom door built into the back of her and her husband’s basement, but a computer desk in the front office of the basement quickly took over. Soon, she set up a work bench in the basement’s main room and now…well, her studio is wherever she pleases.

Most days you can find her pounding on copper at her jewelry bench—itself her husband’s old work bench she repurposed, like much of the materials she uses.

“It was not super planned out and it’s taken a lot of evolutions,” Raasch says of her studio. “It came together organically.”

That’s fitting for Raasch, who also does nature photography. Her jewelry tends to feature flowers and, her latest obsession, leaves. Raasch does mostly fold-forming copper jewelry, heating, cooling, hammering and reheating the materials until they take on the shapes she desires.

The studio is ever-changing. She’s always adding tools, either buying them herself or receiving them as gifts from family and friends.

That natural progression is evident on her workbench, which is covered with half- finished pieces, random materials ranging from silverware to old license plates, and silver platters and other antique items she’s collected over the years.

“Most never end up being anything, but I just enjoy them and end up collecting things just to brighten up the studio,” Raasch says. “It’s kind of messy, but that’s life.”

Through an open wall kiddie corner from her work bench is an office space with a computer and life-sized jewelry model, whom Raasch named Persephone. Bookshelves covered with graphic-design books and jewelry-making tips, alongside some of Raasch’s photography and artwork, adorn one wall.

“This is my creative center in a way,” Raasch says while looking around the office, but she could simply be talking about herself.

Raasch’s tips to create your own space:

  • “It’s gotta be comfortable,” Raasch says. If you’re going to spend so much time in one space, she says, make it cozy.
  • Don’t stick to prescribed materials. Use whatever you have on hand that can accommodate your needs.
  • Don’t limit yourself to the space you think “should be” your studio: “Mine started in one place and evolved somewhere else,” she says. “You just have to be open to where it’s going to go.”

Read more about local artists’ creative spaces.

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