Alumni Profile

Tom Hellwarth '94

Stone Soup Recipe Tom Hellwarth ’94 saw a lot of the world during his student days at USC. From Thailand to Burma, from India to Pakistan, he found the time to follow his bliss: researching and buying jewelry.

WHEN IT CAME
to settling in one place to open his own business, however, he set up shop in the same city where he’d been born and raised, Santa Monica, Calif. Happening on the space that would become his gallery and studio was “love at first sight,” he recalls. “I found this old, run-down jewelry store. It was a complete mess. I built everything back up by hand right down to the sign.”
The sign, “Stone Soup,” is the title of an old French tale. “I like the word ‘soup,’ ” Hellwarth explains. “For me, it is about the melting of metals and the blending of styles and influences. Soup gives me a freedom in which to work.”
In visiting his gallery, it’s evident that Hellwarth knows how to cook up his own blend of artistic delights. Although creating jewelry is the focus of his work, he has stirred up everything from chairs to mirrors to decorative masks to help keep his creative juices flowing. “Working with clients on the odd, interesting pieces is what prevents the artistic blocks,” he says.
“I love ancient design and artwork. There is something honest and uplifting about it. The energy I put into a piece is as important as the piece itself. It’s not just about getting the lines right. Sometimes the flaw of a stone is what draws me to it.”
Others seem to be drawn to his finished work. Last year, the USC School of Cinema-Tele-vision commissioned Hellwarth to design and create its Steven J. Ross/Time Warner Award, established in memory of Ross, the late chairman of Time Warner Inc. His completed piece, entitled “Directional Balance,” was presented to Ambassador Walter Annenberg, the award’s first recipient.

WHEN HELLWARTH ENROLLED at USC in 1990, it was like coming home again. His father, Robert Hellwarth, has been on the faculty of the School of Engineering since 1971.
“I felt like I grew up in the Seaver Science Center,” Hellwarth says. These days, he’s busy running his gallery and studio – by appointment. He needs time with his customers.
“The jewelry that I create is about personal expression,” says Hellwarth. “My work isn’t a science. You have to have a chef’s touch. Just like life, you add a little salt until it tastes right.”


 

 


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