Today's interview features the lovely Jenny Vorwaller (currently traveling in South America, the lucky gal!), who is the brains behind queenthings. Between her jewelry and her product photography, her work is a feast for the eyes.
Tell us a bit about yourself and queenthings.
I create narratives with my handmade jewelry collections.
What made you pick up jewelry in the first place? Where did you learn your techniques?
It was in Tuscany last summer, I was taking a watercolor workshop with my mom. I was standing there in the Etruscan Museum in Cortona, looking at these tiny ancient necklaces and my heart had never beat so fast. That was it for me.
Having a little background dabbling with the modeling industry (and I mean a really brief stint) I left satisfied that the industry wasn't for me, but still feeling this pull to the fashion world big time. I thought about promoting my painting and drawing before, but I've always felt those are more personal mediums for me, something I share occasionally. Jewelry just pulls the best of both worlds. Fashion and art collide and I feel like I get it all, it's a major indulgence.
I'm completely self taught, though I recently took a little metal class in my neighborhood (here in Montevideo, Uruguay) which was great since the instructor spoke no English! So it's confirmed that art is no discriminator to language barriers, haha. Since the course wrapped up, I'm finding some really unique ways to put my own style on the technique, called " repujado," which is actually quite popular in Spain even though Uruguayans use it a lot in their handicrafts. So I've been experimenting with it. I'm finding some really unique ways to put my own style on it, but I have yet to see if I will work it in my collections. So other than that, I just work intuitively.
What motivated you to make queenthings into a business rather than a hobby? What was your strategy for promoting yourself once you decided to start it up, and was it effective?
I really do just rely on my intuition with everything I do. I don't have a business strategy outside of making time to do what excites me, and sharing it with other people by putting it out there. So far I think it's working out wonderfully.
Is there any particular advice you'd give to someone interested in starting a crafting business, online or off?
Make mistakes of ambition! And just be genuine. I feel that comes through in everything, online or off, people can respond to being authentic and it gets real contagious. I always remind myself that there are no limitations except for the ones that I put on myself. That really puts things in perspective for me. What everyone else is doing has no bearing on my art, and no one is really there to stop me either.
The jewelry you make has an interesting spin - it's all narrative. What inspired you to take that approach?
I don't know, I think it just made sense after designing all over the place for so long. I was one of the first to sign up on Etsy two years ago, back in July 2005. I began putting some handmade jewelry in my Etsy shop and was mostly concerned with keeping it stocked. I remember I was gone from my studio traveling for a few weeks, and being away from the whole process was really hard because I loved it so much. But it helped me to physically step back and just examine what I was making and why. Now I just practice more restraint by desiging only what I really love, nothing more, nothing less. I could see that I wanted to put a real flair to my work, so that when someone wears one of my pieces, there is a tiny significance beyond just something pretty to wear. I adore communicating narratively, since fashion and jewelry can sometimes be just superficial (which is totally fun) adding some of my own history to my pieces gives them an heirloom feel.
How do you start your jewelry making process? Do you sketch or pull inspirational photography, or do you experiment with materials until you find something you like? How do your themes and story lines fit into this process?
I keep a loose sketchbook, since papers and collages I collect never seem to stay bound because I like to spread it all out in front of me. So having neat piles with all my drawings and ideas all complied by a giant clip make it easy so I can toss in all my tote bag if I want to take it with me to my favorite bistro! Right now I have three different collections in motion, and you know it might sound really disorganized, but it keeps me put together. And it keeps me interested.
Photography really pushes me forward too. On average, I easily take about 100 pictures a day! Especially now that I've been traveling so much. It keeps me aware of what is around me and also acts as a little device for developing my eye for beauty.
Since my lifestyle has so much mobility now (I only have what fits into a few suitcases) I've realized I have a few simple things that have always increased my productivity: a fresh bouquet of flowers on a tidy studio table and my favorite music in constant stream in the background. I guess it wasn't until I stripped down my belongings into what I really used and faced an empty white room to set up shop again to find that the music and the flowers came out and I was ready to go.
One of the things I like the most about your work is your eye for color and how it relates to the metals and textures you're working with. Where do color themes fit into your process, and what inspires them?
It's so serendipitous most of the time. Sometimes it's a tearsheet from a runway photo, other times it's found from walking in a garden, or the street market antiques that get me sketching jewelry designs. It gives me butterflies knowing that I don't have an exact formula for what inspires me. All that is required is that it has to get my heart beating. I want to feel excited about what I make! I feel really sensitive to color and how it effects me, so maybe that comes into play when choosing what palettes to work with too.
You work with a variety of materials in your jewelry, from various wire and chain metals to brass charms and other findings. Is there any in particular that are you favorite, and why?
I really love chain for it's necessity in my designs and for all it's versatility, depending on it's form. Like if I find some delicate chain, I like to hang it like drapery. Or I use chunky dark chain to offset stones to make a piece more edgy. I like that balance of something modern and making a statement, but always keeping it feminine and delicate. Behind it all, I just want something that will make a modern girl feel regal and special. My favorite materials right now are gold, dendritic tree agate, branch coral, and pearls. And I'm just smitten with my geode pendants! I wear one all the time and without fail, it always gets people talking and wanting to see it up close and that just makes my day.
What is your favorite part about being a member of the online crafts community?
Blogging. I just love blogging and everything associated with it! It keeps me going, makes me so happy. I'm just delighted to say, "blogger" along with being a mother, artist, wife, you know all those titles that we give ourselves. Life is too short not to partake in something that brings you happiness I say.