Artist Interview with Jen of Jen’s Jewels
This is another awesome interview with an artist friend! Enjoy! Please feel free to ask Jen any questions by leaving a comment below.
Jen of Jen’s Jewels: I’m a metalsmith, but I have a specialty in stone-set jewelry.
M: Tell me about the current body of work you’re doing.
J: I’m experimenting with mixing metals and different stone combinations. It’s mostly jewelry. I have another line that I’m going to be working on that’s twig and leaves with a stone set in it. It was actually inspired by [television series] The Tudors. I’m creating more wearable art, so abstracted pieces- the majority of which are stone [pieces] and create a landscape on the body.
[This body landscape series] comes from my obsession with stones and what the earth provides in its natural beauty- creating something that makes a person feel as beautiful naturally as the earth does. I want it to be a piece that you buy and everything else revolves around it. It’s like when you look at nature; when you see certain aspects of nature, it’s not symmetrical or perfect. I try and incorporate that in my work, so there are purposeful flaws that make the piece more interesting and handmade. I’m also playing a lot with the vine and leaf motif. With the vine and leaf motif, that’s more a play on wisteria vines, because [they have] something that’s really enticing. They have such a beautiful smell and color, yet there’s a part of them that’s poisonous.
M: Is there a part of your work that you would consider poisonous?
J: The addiction to it. For me as well as for the buyer. For some reason, I don’t know if it’s the energy that I put into it, but some people become addicted to my work and must have more. It’s poisonous for your pocketbook!
It’s poisonous in the fact that I work at home; my studio is at home and I have no escape from [my work] when I’m at home. I’m really still working on that. It’s bringing me to the point of burnout, but at the same time, it’s forcing me to be more creative with my work.
M: Name someone who is not a visual artist who has strongly influenced the trajectory of your work.
J: Anthony Hopkins. When I was an actor, he was one of my teachers. He taught me of the universe and that whatever you put out there will come back around to you. The positive energy that I have reinforced in myself over and over has helped me to grow as an artist, expand my mind, and never give up. He’s amazing. I don’t think he realized how much just a couple classes [with him] really influenced me. He didn’t teach us about the skill of acting; he taught us about life and how to read people and how to open up, in a way, and hear what is really being said to you. In a way, that has really helped me with sales and figuring out what people like and what they’re interested in.
M: What’s the artistic process like for you? How does something travel from these ideas about nature to these finished pieces?
J: Step 1, when I’m designing jewelry, I pull a lot of stones out. I lay them all over my work table and I stare at them. And then from there, I pick them up and I hold them and put them down next to each other, mixing and matching and creating a theme with the color, specifically with my body landscaping pieces. It’s odd, but all stones have a certain energy, and I try to find some that have energy that flows together, so that when it’s on it feels right.
From there, I go to the functional side of designing for wear. And then I start building. Another thing that will happen with some of my more nature-inspired pieces is I’ll actually sketch them out. I’ll be watching something, a movie, and something just clicks, and I have to draw it down. I have to go back to the sketchbook where I’ve created those pieces.
M: Do you keep a sketchbook with you all the time?
J: I always forget to bring it. I used to, but a lot of times when I have an idea it will stick with me so that when I have the chance I can sketch it out.
M: What is the ultimate compliment someone could say to you about your work?
J: Here’s an example. One of my best friends’ mothers, who never wears jewelry, was told that when she comes down to see me, “Don’t buy anything unless it speaks to you.” She is known to be extremely talkative, to the point where you wonder if she will ever take a breath. When she came in to see me, she found a piece that spoke to her, and she put it on. The look of instant peace that came over her, and tranquility, due to the energy of the stones, was the greatest thing to watch. It brought her to a peace and a comfort.
M: So for you it’s not a verbal compliment, it’s the feeling and the action?
J: It’s the feeling of my work, because I do put my energy into my work, and for something that has my energy to have that strong of an effect, combined with nature’s energy, is really wonderful.
Find Jen’s work at any of the following locations:
South Coast Botanical Gardens
26300 Crenshaw Blvd. Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
19932 Ventura Blvd. Woodland Hills, CA 91364
310 Vista Del Mar Suite C Redondo Beach, CA 90277
CRAFTED at the Port of LA
112 E. 22nd St. San Pedro, CA
(Come here to meet Jen! Open Friday through Sunday every week.)