Designer Spotlight: Jeanette Walker
How did you get into jewelry design?
I fell into making jewelry on a whim. I was working as a bartender in my early 20’s and I needed to make a Halloween costume for serving at an event. I decided to dress up as an alien, I painted my face and hair green and sculpted big pointy fitted ears from polymer clay. The ears were a hit and I won a prize for best costume. I had so much fun sculpting them I used the leftover clay to make fish earrings (Piranha that munched at your cheeks while you wore them). I started selling the earrings from my ears while I wore them working at the bar every night. This led to the beginning of an earring making obsession. That was the 80’s. My jewelry and aesthetic have become much more sophisticated since then.
Funny thing is: my ancestors were metalsmiths.
A brief story of what you do and why you do it.
What hasn’t changed in over 20 years is the deep connection I have made to people through art and creativity. The jewelry I create tells a story which starts with the client. I learn about their lives, their dreams and the experiences that have informed who they are. I create pieces that are as unique and as the individual; every piece, truly a labor of love.
What makes your collection unique?
Today there are many modern fast convenient methods of making jewelry, I opt to use ancient techniques that were used as far back as the Bronze Age, which includes sand casting, amalgamation of metals, granulation, repoussé, and forging. I create contemporary designs that carry a flavor of the past.
What are your inspirations?
The work I do illustrates my influential encounters with the natural world. I create original jewelry collections and one of a kind pieces that resonate with my love for the land and sea, my commitment to mother earth and that express my passion for living wild and unbound. I express this not only through my designs but also my jewelry making process. I reuse clients forsaken and often sentimental jewelry to recreate a new upcycled piece using ancient techniques that I have mastered over 20 years of practice.
How are you making a difference in your life?
My materials are of the earth and considering that fact I endeavor to create the least impact I can. This is one of the reasons that when possible I create pieces from recycled jewelry. I often extract the stones and melt down the metal from clients heirloom jewelry to create new upcycled designs that reflect the unique individual. The finished work is a contemporary design that holds all of the memories and sentiment of the piece in which it was born.
I also opt to incorporate into my work sustainable “rock hounded” natural stones that have not been mined or lab grown gemstones which in addition to being perfect in shape and color, they are flawless and have no negative environmental or social impact in their creation.
What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?
I am very intuitive and compassionate. This enables me to be a good listener and communicator. I have an immense mothering instinct, since I haven’t been blessed with children, I channel my nurturing energy towards all living things.
I love every dog and child I meet, especially the highly spirited (naughty) ones.
What's the biggest struggle in running your jewelry business like a business? OR What is your biggest success in running your business like a business?
The biggest struggle I have had in the beginning of running my business was charging a fair price for my work. I am now able to keep my insecurities and feelings out of the equation and therefore provide myself and my coworkers with respectful earnings. Having respect for myself and for others is very important to me. I really enjoy the challenges of running a business, it is a continual learning experience. I love the journey I’m on and the evolution of “me”. I believe this the feeling of “success”.
I am a jewelry designer goldsmith of over 20 years. I studied jewelry arts for 3 years at the George Brown College in Toronto Canada, upon completion I worked as a designer and bench worker in 2 indie high end custom jewelry boutiques for 4 years then started creating my own line of jewelry that I sold via the craft show circuit. I moved to Prince Edward Island and opened a retail jewelry and fine art gallery that I share with my hubby artist Lindsay Walker.
website: www.jeanettewalkerjewellery.com (in the works)