After graduating from the VCU School of the Arts in 1985, Valerie Sanson got a job doing exactly what she wanted to do — designing window displays. But her parents were appalled that their college grad would begin her career at $3.75 per hour, even if it was for the downtown Thalhimers. "I was proud of it!" Sanson says, adding with a boisterous laugh, "Now I have come full circle and am designing windows again."
Sanson, 47, began working with longtime VMFA volunteer Jacky Robinson in May to design the windows at the VMFA Shop. From time to time, Sanson, who shuttered her Carytown store Lane Sanson in 2009, is called upon to make use of a skill she speaks proudly of — "I know how to use a saw!"
Step inside the VMFA's gift shop, and more of Sanson's handiwork is revealed. In 2003, the stylish Richmond native launched a line of jewelry, Painting With Stones. "With my jewelry, less has never been more," she says, pointing at her neck, which is decorated with two strands of textured, multicolored beads featuring an offset corsage of flowers crafted from leopard-print stone petals. She calls such pieces "mixed bouquets" or "flower scarves."
Sanson says she's always designing jewelry in her mind, then she crafts the prototypes in her home studio on Monument Avenue (or at her second home in Virginia Beach). By fall, she'll be introducing new work at the VMFA Shop — including poinsettia broaches, birthstone rings and cufflinks for men — ranging from about $25 to $500. For more information, visit lanesanson.com or call the VMFA Shop at 340-1525.