Colleen Townsend-Pilat's passion for art began at an early age. She started painting in oils at 12, and at the age of 16 enrolled in a still life class at the William J. Schultz Art School in Lenox, Massachusetts. Inspired by Schultz, Townsend continued studying in oils, charcoal, and eventually watercolors, which captured her heart.

As a former Navy wife stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, she discovered the gallery of artist Virginia Fouche Bolton. Townsend studied with the watercolorist, known throughout South Carolina as "Fouche," and the two became close friends.

After moving to Puerto Rico, she became a member of La Ligué de Arté in San Juan, and taught drawing and calligraphy privately.

Colleen Pilat demonstrates her sea-glass jewelry-making technique at the Purple Door in Jamestown.
(Ashley Wilkerson/Daily News staff)

Townsend took a break from art while she raised her children. It was not until her children were grown and she endured some of life's road bumps that Townsend went back to nurturing her creative side. She decided to master the craft of jewelry making by taking classes at The Bead House in Bristol, Rhode Island. She had found her niche.

Townsend was approached by potential buyers intrigued by the beads around her neck from the very first necklace. In 2006, she began selling her one-of-a-kind custom designs and has developed a clientele of repeat customers including actor James Woods. Woods admired Townsend's craftsmanship so much that he brought several pieces back to Los Angeles to share with friends and fellow cast members of his new television show.

Townsend's jewelry has been worn by members of the cast in Season Two of Shark starring James Woods which airs Sundays on CBS. Her designs can be purchased through her website as well as at the Fred Segal Fun boutique in Santa Monica, California.

Townsend currently resides in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Her Method

From the very first necklace, Townsend knew she had a flair for jewelry making. She marveled at her newly uncovered artisanship and found designing each new piece a joyful event. Townsend works with sterling silver and 18k gold filled over sterling wire, gemstones, pearls, Czech beads, Swarovski crystals, and sea glass. Though she loves them all she is particularly fond of sea glass and pearls with sterling silver.

When creating her one-of-a-kind pieces, Townsend does not sort or design beforehand. She begins with the focal piece; whether sea glass, gemstone or a medley of colors and stones. She then builds the piece bead by bead with whatever inspires her during the process. Just as she paints with watercolors, Townsend designs with the focus on color.

Because she allows the creative process to dictate the final product, Townsend delights in the serendipity of jewelry making.

"It is a happy surprise when a piece is done," she says.

Call Colleen at 401-207-1339 or email