Stuart Breidenstein likes to say he creates "jewelry for weirdos." But if that's the case, then Bend has more than a few weirdos drooling over his unique creations: masks made of metal and leather, round-eyed aviator goggles and pendants with polished trapezoids of ebony and moveable gears. Breidenstein's work gathers different media - from wood to copper to bright pink Nerds candy - and imaginatively walks the line between wearable fine art and edgy high fashion.
Stuart has been working as an artist full time for the last four years, and recently opened a showroom of his work in the Ironworks Building, a creative hub behind the Sparrow Bakery. The space houses his workroom as well as the lofty upstairs Bright Place Gallery and is open to the public for Last Saturday, an artsy block party similar to Downtown's First Friday. The showroom, appropriately named Stuart's, is filled with electronic music and organic yet edgy necklaces, earrings, belts and other accessories. Wide windows allow for a view of Breidenstein's heavy machinery, creating a transparency between the patron and the process. An old gumball machine filled with art stands next to a wide worktable, illustrating an accessible yet quirky aesthetic.
Constantly gathering detritus, or scavenging and experimenting with manmade materials found from surplus sites on the Internet - old TV projector lenses, Styrofoam balls used for packing - Stuart is constantly creating puzzles for himself, an important part of his artistic process. Breidenstein is part artist, part engineer, contemplating ideas for aesthetically pleasing yet functional projects such as a hybrid scooter that is also an art piece. He created a functional tabletop self-priming stove (think an ultra-light hiker influencing a Brancusi sculpture) for an upcoming show in Seattle called "Flux Capacitor," a steam punk-metal art exhibition.
"The first few of the self-priming stoves actually were on necklaces, which led to a customer requesting I build a still to make alcohol for fuel, then there's a stove to burn the alcohol I distill, and then there is the steam powered generator," says Breidenstein.
Pulling the design from a Hero's Engine from ancient Greek time, Breidenstein places his stove under a "rough prototype" that reminds me of Harry Potter's golden snitch, a lovely orb that spits out steam and spins when heated, and brushes off labels of artist/inventor. One unique design element that Stuart incorporates at the moment is moveable parts.
"I've been doing more and more kinetic stuff. People like something to fidget with," Breidenstein explains as he spins tiny working watch gears on an ebony pendant. Another pendant holds tiny silver BBs resting behind clear acrylic; reminiscent of old school Cracker Jack box delights in the best way.
A wide white belt uses bumpers from old pinball machines to house the aforementioned bright pink Nerds, the pebble-like shape of the candy adding an organic element to the glossy modern design.
"I liked the pink, and then I liked the [phrase] 'a Nerd Belt for nerds.' They're kinda an underused material," he says.
661 SW Powerhouse Dr.
Imperial Motion, loft tee - $26;
Castle Davidson, paperback denim - $156; Brixton, Donez (shirt) - $62; Brixton, Truss Belt - $52;
Jay Shoes, High-Gait - $169
661 SW Powerhouse Dr.
Floral Woven Top, Ambiguous
Early Wine long-sleeve - $50;
Stitches and Said, straight-leg
jean - $156; Tom Grey,
cordones - $69 (shoes)