Throughout the museum’s gift shop, we have a variety of artwork made by local artists right here in Hampton Roads.  Paintings, jewelry, pottery, and sculptures are just a few of the items you can find on our shelves. One amazing artist we have on display is Leah Cotorceanu.  She mainly displays her jewelry in our store, and each original piece was forged and designed by her.

A bit about what it means to forge something- The term forging means to shape a metal object by heating it in a furnace, and hammering it into a specific form. The art of forging and smithing is one of the oldest known metalworking processes. It was first recorded in history over 6,000 years ago when people would forge metals to create tools, weapons, and jewelry.

Forging has evolved significantly over the centuries. Today many forging processes are automated with computers, streamlining the process and making for precise pieces for all types of industries. Because machines are the main source of forging nowadays, not many people still practice this technique by hand. It takes years of practice to become an accomplished forger.  Leah Cotorceanu definitely has the knowledge and experience, as she has become a skilled metalsmith.

Leah’s work is heavily influenced by her own multi cultural family and travels. She has studied jewelry design and silversmithing extensively.  Her journey began in Florence, Italy, where she lived and worked early on in her career. Leah later moved to New Zealand where she worked in fine jewelry as a bespoke designer. Now currently based in Virginia Beach, Leah is working as a goldsmith and continues to incorporate natural motifs in her work.

Her works of art vary from earrings and necklaces to cufflinks and flat wear. You can tell she is passionate about her work just by looking at the intricate details of each piece she creates. Each piece is unique in its own way and can never be duplicated. The fact that she personally designs, casts, and forges all of her art is absolutely amazing. You can stop by the museums gift shop and take a look at her pieces we have on display or you can visit her website.