Jessica Thomas 2017
Naja Featured Artist Interview:
Exhibition on view Jan-Feb 2017
What got you into working with metal?
I've been making jewelry since I was a little girl- finding beads, hardware parts, shells, etc., anything I could make in to adornment, I did. I'm a naturally curious person + I get bored easily so there was a natural progression in to new methods of making jewelry, I came to the point in my designs where I wanted them to be authentic and unique and the only way I could see to do that was to start from a basic piece of metal and see what shapes & designs I could come up with. I'm from New Mexico and have always had a passion for vintage Native American jewelry & Native American silversmithing.
How long have you been making?
My whole life, but metalsmithing for about 4 years.
What techniques or process do you prefer? Why?
I currently fabricate everything, I am my own sweat shop, cutting everything by hand, forming it, soldering it and finishing it. I love working with fire so soldering is probably my favorite part of the process, I'm mesmerized by the alchemy that occurs when metal bonds to metal.
How would you describe your style/makings?
Edgy, bohemian, minimalist statement jewelry inspired by the intersections of nature & fabrication and ancient & modern cultures.
Do you have a new skill or technique you would like to learn/implement?
I'd really love to get more in to casting so that my designs can become more dimensional.
What is your favorite or most used tool?
I would have to say my Smith torch, it becomes sort of an extension of my hand on long days in the shop. I like that there are different tip options depending on the project that I'm working on.
What is your current/next project?
I'd love to focus more on my one of a kind rings- I currently do two collections a year that I sell wholesale as well as on my website but I really enjoy the time that I get to create unique, individual pieces.
If there is any part of your craft that you could share with others, what would it be?
For me, the process needs to be streamlined to keep up with everything. I am truly my own assembly line. I produce everything as efficiently as possible. The order of the process is the most important part of my day to keep me organized and on schedule. First, all of the metal for each piece gets cut, then formed, then soldered, then drilled and finished, then it all gets assembled. Also, I like to keep my creative juices flowing by constantly sketching new designs to keep things new and fresh and so that I am always feeling inspired.