Rachel King, of Earth Girl Designs, crafts some handmade jewelry at Soul Roots Studio in Lake Placid.
Rachel King sat in Soul Roots Studio, carefully bending a thin strip of sterling silver into the shape of a lotus petal.
The studio is almost hidden, quietly tucked into the back of the Alpine Mall in Lake Placid.
Inside, its earth-tone colored walls are accented by simple, white birch tree silhouettes, and there is artwork displayed everywhere.
“Everything here is nature inspired, but it isn’t always a literal translation,” King said, gently tapping the lotus-hoop with a small hammer. “It’s how we interpret it individually, using our imaginations and who we are inside to interpret it.”
King uses different mediums to create her own interpretations of nature—painting, printmaking and her hand-crafted jewelry, which she sells under the name Earth Girl Designs.
Putting the hammer down, she paused from her work to point at a print hanging on the back wall of the studio space.
The black and white image, called Soul Roots, is of two trees growing on top of a boulder whose roots are intertwined.
To King it represents love, unity and her place in the Adirondacks.
“This was the inspiration for Soul Roots Studio as a whole,” King said. “There’s a bunch of symbolism in this piece—I finally decided to stay here and put some roots down.”
It seems King’s roots have always been firmly planted in the Adirondacks.
She grew up in Tupper Lake, and even though she strayed from the mountains to pursue a teaching degree at SUNY Potsdam, she now lives in Saranac Lake, and that isn’t an accident.
“When you grow up here you would think that it’s not so special after so long, but it’s had the opposite effect on me,” King said.
Since the Adirondacks have had such a profound influence on her art, King’s decision to open Soul Roots Studio with photographer Shaun Ondak and silver smith Kristina Mueller was an easy one.
“Everything I do has to be inspired by nature, because that’s all I know,” King said. “It’s the purest form of expression to me because that’s what nature is—the purest form of energy.”
For Ondak, the decision was an easy one, too.
“She (King) called me and asked if I wanted to get a store, and I said, ‘let me go check for open space,’” Ondak said. “Three-and-a-half weeks later we signed a deal.”
Acquiring the space was like a homecoming for Ondak, who used to work at the frame shop that was located across the hall from where Soul Roots Studio now resides.
The studio’s grand opening was on Thursday, Nov. 8, and featured live music by Adirondack favorites Big Slyde.
The studio now contains a variety of Adirondacks-inspired artwork representing an array of mediums and styles.
The wall space is shared by paintings and nature photography—images of starry nights, out-of-the-way views and winter mountainscapes.
There are also sculptures made from rocks pulled from Adirondack rivers; journals with hand carved, wooden covers; home furnishings that look as if they should still sport leaves and roots; and hand painted mugs and plates.
King’s jewelry isn’t the only art that can be worn, either.
One display case houses silver rings and necklaces while another holds leather wrapped pendants.
Soul Roots also offers custom framing and printing.
But Ondak said Soul Roots is more than just a shop, it’s a place to bring local artists together.
“There’s a huge artist community here,” Ondak said. “This gallery is a reflection of where they are. It’s a balance between rustic, traditional and modern art.”
Ondak and King encourage other local artists to contact them, as they are always looking for more Adirondack-styled pieces to add to the studio space.
And even though they might not accept everything for display in Soul Roots Studio, they will still allow artists to have a place on their website, which they plan to have finished soon.
Starting in February, they also hope to start a new bi-monthly featured artist series, and, if things go as planned, there will be live music at the opening, too.
King has a vision that transcends the walls of the studio, one that involves putting put her art degree to use.
“My ultimate goal is to expand to a bigger place and see the studio evolve into a working arts center, where people can learn to make art,” King said. “We want to get involved with our community. We want to bring the general public into our space so we can show them how important it is to make art and support your local artist.”