EG: Good question. It was probably, wow about 10 years ago now in Austin, Texas. I’d just put painting on the back burner. Those first initial pieces were really organic, wire-wrapped, gemstone and kind of crude but they actually sold.
JS: And those first pieces, were they similar to what you’re making now?
EG: Kind of. In some ways, yes, but in other ways, no. I’ve simplified what I do. These were all one-of-a-kind pieces with more focus on intricate wire wrapping and bigger, more organic shapes.
JS: What drove you to learn metalsmithing?
EG: Honestly I got a little tired of the limits that I had with just wire wrapping, and I got a little sick of doing the same thing over and over. It was half accessibility and half finding my own style and technique, branching out of my comfort zone and working through a challenge. I have never taken a jewelry class so my techniques and styles have evolved in a pretty organic and unique way. I think that has helped me keep an individual look to my work. I also don't use any heat in my studio, no soldering or casting, so I have this challenge that I like... I try to do things with the limits I have set in place, and work within that challenge to create something new. It’s fun right now, but in the future, I might be ready to branch out into more traditional techniques while still holding on to my own style and look. My main motivation that’s driven me has been my own taste and what I want to wear. Trying to blend it to where it was still noticeably my style but more simplistic and refined.
JS: Especially in a saturated and competitive market.
EG: Oh yes.
JS: One thing you mentioned was your first trip to the bead store. Tell me about that.
EG: For me what made it so exciting, coming from a painting background, is it’s another form of a pallet and I love gemstones that have texture, the way they reflect light. In my studio space, I don’t organize or compartmentalize the stones and metals. They’re all laid out on the table and it’s messy and usually, I don’t have a plan when I’m making something new. I just pick some stones that draw my attention, and then start to play with metals and wire to create a new and exciting piece or collection. I may have an idea, but today metal has more of an influence on me and I love to accent it with beads. Once I started getting more into hand-cutting, hammering, texturizing and shaping the metal it became more fun and interesting to me than beadwork. But I still love working with gemstones... adding in what could now be called expertise in that field of wire wrapping and weaving the stones into and around metals.
JS: Oh, wow I love that. It’s so counterintuitive to what I perceived your process being. So, at one point you mentioned having this need to create. Can you elaborate on that feeling? Is it inside of you?
EG: You know, I think everybody has their own things that drive them, and I can just remember ever since being a child ––and my sister’s the same way, she’s also an artist–– we were really encouraged by our mom, also an artist, to make and create things. I get into a zone, I feel happy, relaxed, excited, and driven when I sit down in my space. The excitement of making something beautiful out of raw materials just doesn’t get old for me. I still love painting, making little sculptures, drawing...but for me, making jewelry is a combination of all of that. I guess today that’s where I find a really large amount of meaning in my life. It’s creating and having that process evolve into something functional.
“I guess today that’s where I find a really large amount of meaning in my life. It’s creating and having that process evolve into something functional.”
JS: Ah, the creative process.