Thursday, July 10, 2008

FEATURED ETSY ARTIST - Jessi's Jewelry/Distinction Jewelry

I love the unique, light feeling that so many of Jessi's pieces invoke, when looking at them. Be sure to pay a visit to Jessi's shop after reading below, in Jessi's own words, what she as to say about herself and her lovely work.


What led you to start creating your art/craft?
My path was a rather unusual one. I became a fan of a wonderful but short-lived television show called Firefly, and one of the characters wore a distinctive necklace made of leather cording. I searched for one like it but it was not for sale anywhere. Having dabbled around a bit with beginner jewelry design, I just made myself one! I was able to make an almost exact replica of the necklace, and on a whim I posted to a fan forum offering them for sale. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but they started selling like hotcakes. Shortly thereafter I started offering simple beaded necklaces inspired by the show, and before long I had to open my own web store ( ) to handle the order volume. Over time I became better at what I did, learned a lot about designing, and thanks to the sales I was able to afford and offer better quality materials. Before I knew it……I was a jewelry designer!

How did you decide what medium you wanted to work with?
Initially all of my work was “stringing.” I used the materials that most appealed to me, namely gemstone beads, sterling silver, and lampwork. Stringing gets a bad name amongst jewelry designers because it is the most basic skill, and is often branded the hallmark of a beginner. That has always irked me because while the market admittedly is flooded with “beginner crafts” strung jewelry, some of the most stunning and artistic creations I’ve seen have been strung necklaces and bracelets. I have always felt, both as a beginner and later as an experienced designer, that a strung piece made with superb materials, quality workmanship, and most importantly a striking and beautiful design is something for which no apologies should be made.While perfecting, honing, and expanding my design skills (and my ever expanding collection of beads!), I dabbled in other mediums. Stringing beads wasn’t enough for me, but I had a hard time finding any other medium that felt “right” for me and gave me the artistic control I needed. I took a brief stab at lampworking, tried wirework, tried Chinese knotting, mangled polymer clay, and all it took was one look at seed beads for me to run away screaming!The epiphany snuck up on me sideways. I began collecting some beautiful cabochons made out of unusual gemstones, planning to wire wrap them. But every time I tried to wrap one, I was unhappy with the results. I didn’t enjoy wire wrapping, and most irksome was the fact that I had purchased these stones for their innate beauty and patterns, and wire obscured and distracted from them. I decided to have them set in sterling silver as pendants so that I could make necklaces with them, but I couldn’t find anyone to do it whose “style” was right for me. Then it happened….my eyes lighted on a dusty sign in a local lapidary supply announcing silversmithing classes.I signed up. I collected even more stones. The class was cancelled. A year later though, I was lighting a torch for the first time. By the end of the beginner’s class I was hooked. By the end of the advanced class I was obsessed. Not even six months after I started, I knew I’d found my medium….and I had acquired my own top of the line torch and more tools than I care to admit to.In silversmithing I have finally found a medium that gives me the creative control I desire and allows me to make things I’m proud of, and most importantly I love doing it. I will probably always do stringing and very basic wire work as well, especially incorporating my metalwork. But my focus has certainly shifted dramatically to silversmithing, and I only expect that focus to deepen.

What aspect of creating your art/craft do you find the most enjoyable?
I adore the creative control; the ability to be able to imagine a design that I think would be cool and then actually create it. That is quite a rush.

If you had to choose a fruit OR a vegetable, to describe your art/craft, what would you choose, and why?
A pink grapefruit. Refreshing, tangy and sweet without either flavor being overpowering, the grapefruit is bold but not brash. The qualities of the grapefruit do a pretty good job of describing what I like to create; pieces that are different but not overpoweringly edgy, pretty without being “cute”, elegant but not snobbish, and clean without being boring.

What message, if any, do you want to convey with your art/craft?
I want to convey the messages that are personally important to my customers. Jewelry is about more than simple adornment. It's about meaning; a wearable token for who we are, who we love, and what we admire. One reason I love custom work is that I get to create something that has deep and often hidden personal meaning to the person wearing it.

What advice do you have for other artists/crafters?
Do what you enjoy, and create what you like. There is a lot of peer pressure in the jewelry field to “be different!” “expand into other mediums!” and my least favorite, the unspoken encouragement of difficulty of creation over pleasing design. How, however, is one supposed to “be different” if everyone is struggling to do just that? In that case, are you not, by trying to be different, copying everyone else? What is new and different one year will be the overused trend the next. So stop trying desperately to be different, and be yourself….and that act alone will set you apart. Follow what you like and enjoy, and your own unique style will develop gracefully on its own, and your skills will surely advance along the paths that you are drawn to.

THANKS, JESSI for sharing your beautiful work, and also giving us an insight as to what makes you "tick" as an artist! Below you will find links to Jessi's Etsy shop, and also her web site. Be sure to take the time to visit!!


1 comment:

Jessi Clark-White said...

Thank you very much for featuring me on your wonderful blog! I could get lost in here for hours looking at all the eye candy. Thanks again!