Wear Your Wine With Zona Sherman Designs Recycled Cork Jewelry
At Zona Sherman Designs, there is life beyond the bottle for wine corks. What began as a handmade gift for her mother a couple years ago has evolved into a small business for the Napa Valley native, who has called Huntington Beach home for roughly 16 years. With every slice of cork, Sherman brings a taste of Wine Country to Surf City.
A love for wine and art was instilled early on in the self-described "crafty wine connoisseur," whose equally crafty mother co-owns a Napa Valley winery and whose father "can draw anything." After gaining her degree in graphic design and multimedia, Sherman went on to first make her creative mark in video editing. Post-production hours and deadlines lost their luster after a tiring decade, and she decided to throw in her editing towel.
Unable to sit still—even as a full-time mother of one—Sherman taught herself how to knit about five years ago, took a class on fabric dyeing and started selling her "Twirl Girl Fibers" hand-dyed yarn along with her knitted hats and scarves on a little platform called Etsy.
"I still knit every day," she tells us, but the unique mosaic cork necklace she made and gifted to her mother, who at the time was working in the tasting room at her winery, diverted her creative direction. It was this piece that launched Zona Sherman Designs. By catch of eye and word of mouth, orders began rolling in, including requests to feature her work at Napa County's Maldonado Family Vineyards tasting room and on The Spotted Door, an online marketplace featuring only products made with 50 percent or more recycled materials.
Meticulously placing hand-cut slivers of upcycled wine corks into a metal bezel without measuring a thing, Sherman first photocopies the bezel, works off said template, then sets and trims. She seals the one-of-a-kind accessory with resin and attaches the chain, be it silver-plated brass, copper-plated brass, ribbon or linen. Corks are carved on a cutting board using a butcher knife, and she searches each plug for meaningful, charming typography and designs, as well as colorful wine stains. "There's no formula," Sherman says of her work, noting that each cork has its own unique color and texture.
Over the last two years, Sherman has expanded her Etsy shop to include not only her signature mosaic cork necklaces, but also bracelets, earrings, cross pendants and matching BFF necklaces of the same style, as well as custom and stock copper bangles and cuffs and a modern copper and silver ring. A visit to her collection meets a range of pieces, including her copper leaf earrings, which she makes by sending pre-1982 copper pennies through her hand-cranked rolling mill, then hammering, heating and twisting the piece to her liking. She welcomes commissioned work and offers customized messaging in her hand-stamped copper bangles. Putting all other husbands to shame, one romantic gentleman recently asked Sherman to make a custom necklace and bracelet set for his wife using corks from their wedding wines. The two have been married for 10 years.
Sourcing her materials from local shops, including MajestaM’s in Fountain Valley, Sherman works largely with silver, brass and copper using a range of techniques, or "abuse," as she describes it, with tools handed down from her husband’s grandfather. "I use whatever I can get my hands on," she tells us, adding that she favors working with copper. "You can beat the crap out of it." Largely self-taught, Sherman has also been schooled in various jewelry-making processes to further expand her line and feed her relentless energy. On any given day she can be found at her garage workbench cutting, molding. hammering, fold-forming, etching, soldering, silversmithing and snapping photos. "I know enough about photography to be dangerous," she says, laughing.
Her vast customer base has her shipping orders internationally, but she never forgets about her Huntington Beach community. As a nod to her neighbors, Sherman hand-delivers creations to locals.
With a mission to introduce her work to more tasting rooms throughout California, Sherman plans to ramp up marketing efforts in the new year once she recovers from her first holiday season in retail. She also aims to continue teaching her 10-year-old daughter the way of the cork, working with more silver and sterling silver, launching a luxe line and broadening her skill-set to eventually handcraft all of her materials. "I wanted everything to be from scratch," says Sherman. "Even the chain."