Designer Spotlight: Pamela Jackson
A brief story of what you do and why you do it.
I weave little pieces of magic out of gold and silver and gemstones. Using various gauges of wire, I knit, crochet and wire wrap all of my designs from scratch. I've adapted crochet designs and needlework patterns to work with the wire and adorn them with the best quality gemstone beads I can find.
How did you get into jewelry design?
In 2003, I lost my 2 best friends to breast cancer. I had known Suzanne since 1986, when I first moved to Vancouver as a young single mom. Karen, I had known for 10 years. The 3 of us worked together, and at least 3 nights a week, we gathered at my house and made dinner together, then did crafts. At Christmas, we made all our gifts, as well as about 600 cookies that we packaged up and gave away. When I lost them, going to the job I had loved, and had shared with them, became unbearable. I took some time off and turned to beading as a soothing way to heal. That actually came about because on the day Suzanne passed, I got off a transit bus in front of a bead store. I had been crying, and pretty much everything was a blur…except the myriad vials of colorful glass beads in the window of the store. That beautiful image stayed with me, and after the funeral, when I was looking for something creative to do, something new, that I hadn't shared with my 2 lovely friends, I remembered the beads. And that just sort of morphed into the jewelry I create now.
What makes your collection unique?
I think what makes my jewelry unique is that each piece has me in it. I have many clients comment that they feel peaceful when they look at and wear my jewelry. The funny thing is, that if I'm not feeling peaceful, I can't create. The wire snaps or kinks and the gemstone combinations I choose seem discordant. On the technical side, the uniqueness of my jewelry comes from making all components myself. If I want a filigree disc for an earring, I crochet. Chandelier frames are all hand formed, as are earwires, from basic shepherd's hooks, to swirls, posts and elongated paved marquise hooks…I make them all. I hand link my own gemstone chains, and necklace clasps. My work is very intricate, but oh, so rewarding…and FUN.
What are your inspirations?
I find inspiration in so many things. I love looking at fashion magazines and interpreting a certain design element, or fabric pattern or texture into my work. Nature plays a large role as well…a pair of earrings I just made were influenced by a picture I saw of the Northern Lights. Most often, though, the jumble of gorgeous gemstones and bits of metal on my desk will strike a chord, and I will build from that.
How are you making a difference in your life?
I am happier and more at peace than I have ever been. Being able to create beautiful things, and have others actually buy them, is amazing. And with this amazing gift I have been given, I am able to give in return. Every year, I donate to 4 large charity galas silent auction fundraisers for breast cancer and diabetes. I also donate to monthly fundraisers for a local charity called Beauty Night Society, which is a weekly meeting place for women of the street to come to and get pampered. The founder gathers together volunteers who give manicures and pedicures, massage, makeup, haircuts, and just general pampering and gentle touch to women who are most used to abuse. Beauty Night Society runs solely on donations and I am so incredibly blessed to have the ability to help raise money.
What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?
For a brief period of time, during those carefree 70's, I lived on the street. Where I hung out, there was a bead store. I used to go in and look at all the pretty things and talk to the lady who owned it. She probably knew I was homeless, but I didn't think about it, as I was pretty proud and didn't want anyone to really know. At one point, she gave me some pliers, wire and wooden beads, and told me to make a few pairs of earrings and bring them back to her. I did and she paid me. I took the money to the little Chinese restaurant down the street and bought food. And made more earrings. I've come full circle, now, and I hope I am continuing what that lovely lady did for me with her compassion and generosity.
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?
My biggest struggle is seeing what I do as an actual business. My biggest success is making jewelry that people love.
As teenager in the 70's, I was as creative and free as the era was. In the mid eighties, when I became a single parent, my freedom was somewhat curtailed, but my creativity remained strong. Two hand knitted sweaters bought an old car, my daughter's Halloween costumes were the talk of the block, and she had the prettiest party and holiday dresses. I also used my creativity in my job as a waitress, which I loved and which raised my daughter.