Jennifer Smith-Righter: Muse Personality

Date started working in metal clay:

It was spring of 2005.

I had formally studied Art and Architecture and while doing so, took an elective class making jewelry. I decided I wanted to pursue that exclusively as I was much more comfortable working with metals and at that small scale. But I needed a medium that I could work in that wasn’t so equipment intensive and I could be more portable (I move frequently). And one day I stumbled upon a book about metal clay by Jackie Truty (with Deb Jemmott) and I knew it was just what I was looking for! I dove right into the pool and basically taught myself.

Certified: (what clay, year and with whom)

Certified in Art Clay Silver with Deb Jemmott in April 2007.

I had moved to San Diego and was looking to expand on my fabrication skills. So I signed up for a class with Deb Jemmott (not realizing who she was). I was a bit frustrated by my metal clay progression at that point and she really helped me take it to the next level.

Accomplished at what media in addition to metal clay:

I have a diploma from the Revere Academy and now work in sterling, argentium, gold and gemstones. I also draw and play the piano some.

Website and short bio:

I am the principal designer at Wearable By Design, a unique custom jewelry studio that designs and creates individual works of wearable art. I creates designs in fine and sterling silver and gold, with semi-precious gems in a wide range of styles, often inspired by nature or mechanical objects. I was formally educated in art and architecture in San Francisco.

*Honorable Mention Silver Accessories 2010
*Finalist Saul Bell Awards 2009

*Harley Chic voted Favorite "Bike Item on a Roll" on Etsy 2009
*Winner 2008 North American Design for Blossoms and Andalusia

*Pink Ophelia voted “Our Favorite Sparkly Jewelry on Etsy, Holiday 2008”

*Winner 2007 North American Design for Barcelona

What is your inspiration now?

I’m still fascinated by mechanical objects and moving parts.

Do you have a muse?

I have many. I’m inspired daily by the work of my peers.

What is currently on your bench/workspace?

A giant (nearly 14 carats) faceted translucent yellow opal. It was given to me as a thank-you in an order of agate cabochons. It was just a giant hunk of rough yellow opal. I took it to a friend who is a gem cutter and he told me it was a rare and valuable stone. So he cut it for me and I just got it back from him yesterday. It’s trying to tell me what it want’s to be made into.

I just finished a gold band to a dear friend who lost her husband unexpectedly. She wanted his wedding band remade so that she could wear it. That was a wonderful opportunity for me to put to good use the skills I’ve been generously taught by the jewelry giants in my life.

What project/direction are you working on now?

I’m figuring out how to do more hybrid pieces which include metal clay with fabricated sterling, gold and gems.

How much time do you average at the bench per week?

Whatever it is, it’s never enough. I try to spend most afternoons there.

What's the average time you spend on a piece?

It varies a lot. My full necklaces can take weeks to create, whereas I can create a ring and even set a stone in it, in about 1 hour.

Do you sell your work?  and where?

Occasionally. I have a shop on Etsy.

Where do you get your new ideas?

Ideas can come from anywhere — something as simple as how a flower pod is structured, to the more complex, like the hardware on a motorcycle can inspire me.

Do you keep a sketchbook and how do you organize it?

Yes. I have many small ( 5 x 8 ) spiral bound sketchbooks with drawings, and notes in them. I don’t often put clippings in my sketchbooks. I have pouches that I keep my clippings in.

Are there places or things you avoid that zap your creativity?

No, not really. I do find that I have to start my day by getting my errands and business stuff done first. I don’t eat breakfast so I have lunch or brunch and then settle down to work. I don’t like to be interrupted by things on my to-do list once I’m in the studio. I need to focus solely on my work.

Do you have a ritual before you begin to create?

If a project is on going, the work stays out on the bench until it’s finished. I do minimal clean up as I go. But when a project is finished, everything gets completely cleaned and put away. I have a place for everything and like everything in it’s place. That way, I’m ready for the next project.

I often have a fully formed idea before I start (that doesn’t mean I don’t evolve it), but I don’t usually just get out material and fiddle with it. I know what I’m going to do. Then I lay out my basic tools and go from there.

What do you collect?

I’m a bit of a minimalist because I move so frequently. But I do have more gemstones than I should! I also have one bin that has the guts of several electronics and such. One day, I’m going to make something really cool out of those bits and bobs!

How do you rejuvenate your creativity?

I go on walks, travel, go to museums and look at others work. I find a change of scene to be a good stimulator. But mostly, I’m inspired by other artists, whether they’re jewelry artists or not. I adore architecture and often get inspiration from it’s endless variety!

What would your perfect creative day be like?

It would be one in which I don’t have to redo a thing!

3 Responses to Jennifer Smith-Righter: Muse Personality

  1. I also find that I am rejuvenated by interacting with other artists or by looking at a variety of artwork. I just love to take in anything creative in just about any medium. The artists mind is so fascinating.

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