MSU student jewelry virtuoso wins international contest


“Fluid” and “dynamic” are words that have been used to describe Jason Baide’s jewelry, but the same terms could also be used to describe Baide, who just won an international jewelry design contest even though he is just beginning his senior year at Montana State University.

The student from Bozeman placed first in the Emerging Artist category in the Saul Bell Design Awards for his design and execution of “Flexibility.” Baide’s design, a ring composed of delicate golden links and Yogo sapphires, topped entries in the contest’s 22 and under category. According to the jewelry profession website JCK, the Saul Bell competition, sponsored by jewelry supplier Rio Grande, “lures heavy-hitting design talent.” It is the second time that Baide has placed in the contest. Last year, he was third in the same category. Each time he has been a finalist he has been invited to the Santa Fe Jewelry Symposium, along with about 400 of the top jewelry designers in the world.

“That was great because I was able to attend lectures and meet people that I have looked up to my whole life,” said Baide, who is studying art in the MSU School of Art in the College of Arts and Architecture and business in the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and is also a student in the Honors College.

That some of Baide’s heroes are artists and jewelers is not a surprise since Baide was raised in his family’s jewelry store. His father, Don, owns Bozeman’s Gem Gallery. When other little boys were playing Legos, he was fooling around with the tools of wax carving.

“Although, I wanted to be a pilot for a long time,” Baide said.

A music student who plays classical violin, Baide also said he loved advanced math classes at Bozeman High School and considered a career in engineering until he took a class from Stacie Smith, the jewelry teacher at Bozeman High School, whom he considers one of his mentors.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without her,” he said, adding that Smith’s approach to metalsmithing as artistic expression opened his eyes. “I learned to love everything about (jewelry making).”

Smith’s class led to Baide using jewelry as an outlet for an unusual, but successful, high school Advanced Placement portfolio.

“Looking back at his high school Advanced Placement Portfolio where he had a wearable piece housed inside a vessel that was both technically ambitious and symbolic, it demonstrated a broad base of knowledge within his field of study,” said Bryan Petersen, MSU art professor and Baide’s mentor in the MSU metalsmithing program. Petersen said he has watched Baide’s art transform while at MSU.

“Jason has put the MSU Metalsmithing program on the map amongst emerging designers in his field by winning this prestigious competition,” Petersen said.

Petersen said what is even more remarkable about Baide’s talent at such a young age is the grace with which he enjoys so many other things that the university offers.

“He continues to balance the demands of 18-plus credits a semester, managing his family business, double majoring in business and art, while playing Russian compositions on his violin and swing dancing," Petersen said.

While Baide often mentors other art students in the MSU metalsmithing studio, he has also found time to travel and study abroad. He credits his experience in Italy with broadening his art. He is a student fellow in the Texts and Critics course in the Honors College. He has played in the MSU Symphony, is president of SwingCats, the MSU swing dancing club, is an Eagle Scout and he collects quotes – his favorite are from Oscar Wilde. He also enjoys hiking and backpacking, particularly with Dorian, his border collie-Aussie mix. He fits it all in while spending 40 hours a week managing the Gem Gallery and making custom jewelry there. He said he is looking forward to a career working at the family store after he graduates.

Ilse-Mari Lee, dean of the MSU Honors College, who said Baide’s jewelry designs are so impressive “they have taken my breath away.” She said that, in addition to being one of the busiest students she knows, he is also one of the kindest.

“Jason is an extraordinary student and a highly gifted artist,” Lee said. “He is an artist of tremendous promise, who is admired and respected by his peers and professors alike, and is also one of the most humble individuals I know.”

Baide said he doesn’t mind being busy and also finds sources for creativity in his dizzying schedule of activities.

“That’s one of the great things about MSU -- I have loved learning new things, which has added to my techniques,” he said. “I particularly have learned to take risks.”

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