What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I grew up in a pretty idyllic setting in upstate, NY outside of Ithaca. My parents along with two of my mom’s siblings built houses for their families on a beautiful expanse of land in the country. My cousins and I spent the majority of our time outside building forts, exploring the land and swimming in the waterfalls and lakes around Ithaca. I feel extremely lucky to have grown up in such a beautiful landscape and I think that admiration for the natural world became one of my main inspirations as an artist. I experimented with a lot of different types of art growing up, but I was especially into drawing and painting throughout high school.
Although I was always into creative projects as a kid, I also really loved math and science. At one point I (laughably) thought I would grow up to be an architect or an engineer!
How did you begin making jewelry?
I was lucky to have an amazing professor in college named Patrice Case, who introduced me to jewelry and metal as an art form. I took her Intro to Metalsmithing class my freshman year and was immediately hooked. I believe I took every single Metals class I could after that. Something about the delicate, painstaking nature of jewelry making appealed to me more than anything I’d tried before. Patrice encouraged me to take up metalsmithing as a main focus and was a huge supporter when I decided to apply for an MFA program at RIT.
What do you like most about working for yourself and developing your products? Everything!!
Honestly, I’ve been through so many trials and tribulations to get to where I am today and I still feel like I have so much more to learn! No one teaches you how to run your own business in art school, so there’s been a major learning curve in that respect.
All in all, the business of working for yourself is an extremely challenging yet gratifying one. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I recently realized that my new studio space on the Willamette River (shared with my leather craftin’ boyfriend) is technically a 550 square ft. “corner office” with an amazing view of downtown Portland! I go there everyday on my own time and no one tells me what to do!
One great thing about being a jeweler is the instant gratification that comes from whipping up a brand new design in an hour and wearing it home that evening! But my absolute favorite part of what I do is getting to see someone wear one of my pieces! When you’ve stared at an inanimate object for so long in your studio, you tend to lose touch with its real purpose. Going out into the world for a craft show or trunk show and chatting with people, getting positive feedback… nothing compares to that. I always leave those situations with a residual high that lasts for days. It makes the sore hands and long nights in the studio totally worth it!
Where do you see your business going in the future?
I feel like I’m still getting established on the West Coast, since I moved here less than a year ago. I’m excited to continue making connections in Portland, and immerse myself in the creative community here. It’s amazing how much has happened in one year and I’m hoping the year to come brings just as many opportunities. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve faced and the lessons I’ve learned and I hope to carry that knowledge with me as I grow my business!