Walter Hekala

Metalsmithing & Jewelry

About Walter Hekala

Walt Hekala came to metalsmithing after careers in Federal law enforcement and then in international development projects focused on trade facilitation for less developed countries. After retirement from both these careers, he took his first formal training in metalsmithing at the Bellingham Metal Arts Guild (BMAG) where he served as a volunteer.

His jewelry making interests are eclectic in methodology, metal selection, and theme. Walt takes inspiration particularly from stones he incorporates in many pieces. He teams with Elizabeth Rhyneer to create unique finished pieces where they each incorporate their individual specific interests and talents.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013, he tried all the then-identified ways to cope with this disease. He also looked for other paths to partnership with his Parkinson’s. This included non-traditional treatments such as cranial sacral therapy, supplements, meditation and alternative physical therapies. While there are very good programs for large body movement exercises, he found nothing to help with control of small involuntary movements such as tremors. This was the motivator to begin making jewelry. The making of jewelry that requires motor control measured in fractions of a millimeter worked for him.

Walt’s alternative approach continues working for him and approved by his Parkinson’s specialist, Dr. John Roberts at Virginia Mason in Seattle. Walt is no longer taking any of the Parkinson’s pharmaceutical medications. While his diagnosis of Parkinson’s remains, his progress is very slow as noted by Dr. Roberts.

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