About Us

Walt and Elizabeth –   WE Talking Stones


Elizabeth Rhyner email

 Coming from a small town in California and being exposed to many cultures and traveling has inspired me to learn about so many different forms of art.  As a child our typical winter we would made handcrafts; wagon train building, sewing, cooking, pottery, ceramics, painting fruit jars but never a sleep or watch tv childhood.  My mom canned our food and it was my responsibility to paint the jars with flowers and leaves.  She never gave us a choice to do as we chose, it was always work.  This turned out to be “a good thing” for me not so much for my brother. 

After moving to Bellingham  Walter Hekala came into my life  and he brought a different side to art in the form of metalsmithing.  We jointly strive to make new items, learn different techniques and join others in this field.  Bellingham Metal Arts Guild (BMAG)  was our first and then joining Whatcom Art Market (WAM) to sell our items.

When I step back and look at my life, I am so thankful for my children and their families, but also to be doing what I love to do every single day with Walt.

Walt Hekala emailWalt came to metalsmithing after careers in Federal law enforcement and then in International development projects focused on trade facilitation for less developed countries. After retirement, he took his first formal training in metalsmithing at the Bellingham Metal Arts Guild (BMAG). As a student, he has participated in nearly all course offerings at BMAG to learn multiple techniques for metalsmithing and jewelry making.

Since joining BMAG, he has been an active volunteer in duties ranging from studio maintenance to serving two terms on the board of directors. He will finish his second term as President of BMAG in May 2018. In addition to volunteer administrative duties, as he progressed in metalsmithing, lapidary, and jewelry making, he recognized he had skills to share as well. He leads workshops as a facilitator freely sharing his limited knowledge and assists others in trying out techniques in metalsmithing.

His jewelry making interests are eclectic in methodology, metal selection, and theme. Walt takes inspiration particularly from stones he incorporates in many pieces. He teams with Elizabeth Rhyneer to create unique finished pieces where they each incorporate their individual specific interests and talents.

As an example, Walt may cut and polish a stone he or Elizabeth will incorporate into a pendant, and then Elizabeth will finish the design incorporating the pendant into a necklace. In addition to making jewelry and metal art objects, Walt has written stories originally intended to accompany gifts he made for his granddaughters. He has now made multiples of these store themed pieces to accompany copies of these stories. These story themed pieces and the stories are now publicly offered by Walt and Elizabeth thorough their endeavor: WE Talking Stones.

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