I began creating jewelry in 2018 with a group of wonderful women in Southern California. Most of what we made was for local farmer's markets and events and was wire wrapped or strung.
In 2019, I moved to the Pacific Northwest and found endless inspiration in nature. Wire wrapping wasn't something I enjoyed doing and so, while waiting to settle in and take a class to work as a metalsmith (torch, hammer, etc.), I began to do copper electroform. This is a fun process and permitted me to include many botanicals (real ones) in my work. Copper electroform is a type of copper plating.
Though I enjoyed this type of working, my heart yearned to work in sterling. Halfway through 2019 I took crash course in smithing. It was very advanced for someone who had never used a torch, but I pushed myself.
It was September of 2019 that I finally had the equipment and tools needed to begin on my own. This I consider my maker's anniversary!
The first few months, I spent inoridant amounts of time learning how to create bezels without melting them, how to solder different elements together, etc. It wasn't all beautiful pieces, there was plenty of room to grow and mistakes made, which served as a great space for growth.
In January of 2020, I created my first botanical pieces on my own, which began with my beloved ferns. It is impossible to live in the grand forests of Oregon without finding inspiration in the multitude of ferns that grow naturally all over the region. Shortly after feeling ready, I moved on to my first collection: The Cherry Blossom Collection. It was created in February and March of 2020.
The Cherry Blossom Collection was inspired by the beautiful trees that aligned the streets of the city. Fluffy pink and white trees, that floated like clouds on top of the trees. This collection represented the true beginnings of my work as a botanical metalsmith and, though the collection was released a day into lockdown (Covid "Stay at Home" order), it did exceptionally well and much of the collection sold out. It felt like a true labor or love. It felt like I was where I was meant to be. And, it was the true beginning of the path to becoming an artist.
Much of my time during the pandemic was spent out in my neighborhood- which was surrounded with beautiful old Victorian and craftsman homes, with well-established foliage- using my DSLR to photograph and document all of my inspiration. I often used the "Picture This" app to identify plants that I had never seen before. Most of the plants I encountered were not available in Southern California, so living in the PNW meant finding new, beautiful, and inspiring subjects around every corner. Berries feature frequently in home gardens, as well as public spaces.
In this same spring, I found a flower that has fast become my favorite flower. I walked under a dogwood tree, with a pink glow below as the sun shone from above, and fell in love. I plucked one from the tree and made the dogwood flower that day. My first of many and life-sized.
Since 2021 much of my work has been contemporary takes on historical eras. For instance, in January of 2021 I released a Gingko Art Nouveau Collection, which was my original take on Art Nouveau (not necessarily the jewelry, but the architectural lines and motifs). It is important to note, that while creating new botanicals and ones that are recognizable is important to me, design always trumps accuracy. If all I want is "accurate" botanicals, then I would not be able to invent many of the designs that I love. So there is a delicate balance between having beautiful and identifiable botanicals, without sacrificing unique designs for accuracy.
For much of my work I spend months ruminating on historical art periods like this one, sketching out ideas of my own based on how these historical works use lines, angles, botanicals (sometimes), and relational values. In late summer and early autumn of 2022 I worked on a nastutium Art Nouveau Collection. This is one that was exceptionally challenging, as it seemed absolutely essential to create the same sort of leaf/flower grouping that you see when you look as nasturtium, but my aim was also to include those Art Nouveau lines.
Ultimately, my work focuses on flow- natural, organic, and balanced, even when asymmetrical. This is an innate focus- I rarely have to think on that flow, I just sort of look at an idea in a sketch or even in rough form on my bench, and think, "this feels good" or "this needs to be modified or scratched".
My inspiration over the years has been largely influenced by Art Nouveau, though Victorian and Edwardian styles can be equally as informative to my pieces. For instnace, in winter of 2023 I created a draped chain collection that harkened to all three periods of art.
My commitment to making my own original designs, to avoiding other metalsmith work that features hand-fabricated botanicals, and and to avoid using elements that other contemporary artists use (sometimes this means reinventing attachments, or creating small loops or other embellishments that are uniquely "me") might be considered extreme, but in a time where it is so easy to steal another person's style and designs (social media and the internet make it easy to find lots of other people's ideas), thus making the work less art and more, fundamentally, replication (and thus, feeling like mass production), the most important part of what I do is to do it with the utmost integrity. To me this means that, in some ways, I have to isolate myself from makers who could influence my work. Understand this is not out of malice, but out of desire to maintain my own artistic integrity.
*** I have begun to copyright some of my designs as a result of increasing creative theft.