In memory of Esther Davies, creator of Judaica from seed beads

Esther Davis. Courtesy of Michael Davies

Esther Davies, 98, of Berkeley, died peacefully on May 2 at Elmwood Care Center.

Esther was born on September 12, 1923 in New York City to Rebeka Salzman. She married and went to Paris, where she had a much-appreciated, albeit brief, job with the Marshall Plan before returning to New York. There she was divorced and later worked for famed wartime photojournalist Robert Capa, who co-founded Magnum Photos. After marrying Aubrey Davies of New Haven, Connecticut, the couple moved to Lubec, Maine to run a small sheep farm. Their only child, Michael, was born in 1959. After her divorce from Aubrey, Esther and Michael moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she had a successful home sewing business. Esther and Michael then moved to San Francisco, where she worked at UCSF Medical Center as a secretary. In 1971, they moved to Berkeley so Esther could attend the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland.

After graduating with an MFA in 1977, Esther established a home studio in Berkeley. She specialized in enamel work, silver and gold jewelry, and the large wall hangings that adorned the walls of homes and corporate offices across the country. She pursued her interest in Judaica by producing contemporary mezuzas, ceremonial wedding bands, exquisite enamel jewelry and dreidels. Esther was respected in the Bay Area art community and she participated in many of the most selective craft shows in the country, including the prestigious American Craft Council show in Baltimore, Maryland. Esther’s striking ring “The Tabernacle” was featured in their 2004 publication “1000 Rings”. In her later decades, she expanded her repertoire to create shimmering jewelry, handbags, and new forms of Judaica from tiny seed beads.

Esther is survived by her son, Michael, her daughter-in-law, Kim, and her grandchildren, Paul, Eric and Julia, all of New Haven, Connecticut. She will be cremated according to her wishes.

Memorial contributions can be made to one of many art-based organizations such as The Art Room, The Art of Elysium, or to a charity of your choice.

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