betsy & iya

RECAP: Making the Cuff—A Workshop with Jewelry Maker Betsy Cross

Hosting a jewelry workshop on Mother’s Day weekend was a great way to bring generations of makers together. A handful of crafty daughters and sons brought their mothers along for a morning of creative community-building with designer Betsy Cross of betsy & iya.

As soon as we opened Tillamook Station’s large yellow garage door, our workshop was buzzing with over 30 attendees, ready to create their own wearable piece of jewelry. After a round of introductions, it was clear the room was full of creatives of all kinds. We had metalsmiths, and also apparel designers. There were sculptors, as well as ceramicists. Everyone was there to make, and also to hear straight from the inspiring Betsy Cross, who started one of Portland’s most successful jewelry brands from the ground up.


With no real training in jewelry, Betsy chose to devote herself to the artform in 2008. “I am a prime example of the ‘just do it’ mentality,” said Betsy. “I am always forcing myself to learn.” In the early days of betsy & iya, Betsy often worried about how to turn her artistic visions into actually pieces. Once she started meeting with industry experts, they told her to not to let fabrication details get in the way of her creativity. “Design is the hard part,” a caster once told Betsy. “Don’t be afraid of the manufacturing. Focus on the design.”

Today, Betsy is always open to inspiration. For example, one of her lines of cuffs is based on Portland-area bridges, and her latest Unu collection is simply inspired by classic, everyday pieces. As we began to explore ideas for our cuffs, she asked us to dream up a memory of when the world seemed easy. “Perhaps it was when you were out walking and saw flowers on a wall. Or maybe it was climbing Machu Picchu,” said Betsy. “Keep the cuff in mind, but let’s just see what shapes come up.”


During the rest of the class, we hammered away, turning raw sheets of metal into unique cuffs. Some people stamped letters or Native American symbols into their cuff. Others pounded in texture with just a hammer. In the end, each participant created at least two bracelets and also the courage to indulge in creative adventures and seek out inspiration wherever it may be waiting.


Check out more photos here. All images by Susie Morris.

betsy & iya: The Beauty Behind the Brand

betsy & iya describes their customers as “the woman who laughs a little too loud in the fancy restaurant, talks her way out of speeding tickets, and watches strangers kiss.” On May 7, we're calling all bold and bright individuals to join us for a Discover Workshop with the gifted and gracious mind behind this brand, Betsy Cross. This is a rare opportunity for jewelry makers and design enthusiasts to hear and learn first hand from one of our city’s most successful makers. Not only will you leave the workshop with a personally crafted cuff, you will also gain a greater sense of how to approach jewelry design from the mastermind of betsy & iya herself. Click here to sign up (seats are going fast)!

Beyond the gorgeous pendants, cut-out cuffs, and bold earrings is a brand that defines every meaning of success in our local maker scene. They have the right materials, an esteemed mix of craftsmanship, an arsenal of fantastic jewelry lines, and a heartfelt company culture. Betsy and her husband and partner Will Cervarich are the beating center of this thriving brand, and they aren’t afraid to be transparent and genuine.

Betsy’s interest in jewelry began at a bead shop where she worked during graduate school and blossomed during her time abroad in Mexico City. When she found her career at a crossroad, she decided to devote herself to her passion. “I was pretty broke at the time and felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. I put everything into it then opened up a really small studio,” she said in an interview with us in 2014. “No good things come from timid steps.” Today, they have a bustling brick and mortar where Bety’s ideas turn into wearable works of art, handcrafted by nine in-house makers. 

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At our WeMake Celebrates Conference last year, Betsy sat on our "Small Scale" panel and discussed she balances national success while still remaining the neighborhood shop around the corner that makes everything by hand. "I have the most success as a designer when I make mistakes and let those mistakes show me where to go," she said during the event.

Betsy is a great resource for the makers in our city. She is a brimming well of inspiration and positive thinking. Whether you follow betsy & iya on instagram or peruse their Youtube channel, there is so much to glean from this great brand. Whether you are a budding jewelry maker, or just want to get your hands dirty, we hope you will join us on Saturday, May 7 for a great day of making with Betsy Cross.

betsy & iya Jewelry Workshop
Saturday, May 7 from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Place: Tillamook Station
Click here for more information and to reserve your seat!