Tell us about yourself.
My name is Rachel, and I design and make jewelry. I’m from Western Massachusetts and now find myself in Washington, DC with my fiancé, Ben. I majored in sculpture at Brandeis University, and after working in the Boston Museum of Science for a year, decided to focus on jewelry. My father is a jeweler, as is his brother, my cousin, and my other uncle.
Apart from creating, what do you do?
When I’m not making things, I’m on my computer. I really do enjoy the marketing aspect of the business, as well as the graphic design component. I also occasionally try to cook, but not successfully.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
My memoir would be titled Talking to Myself. Working by myself all day means I’m often lost in my own head. I spend all day thinking, sometimes out loud. I often find myself walking somewhere, and instead of just having a regular thought, like, “Oops, my coffee almost spilled on that dog,” I narrate what’s happening to myself as though I were writing a book. “As I took a walk on a bright, sunny day, I stumbled on a rock and nearly dropped my delectable iced coffee all over the tiny poodle.” So I guess I’m constantly writing a very, very very boring memoir.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration can be a fickle friend. Sometimes I’m trying to fall asleep and all of a sudden I have a vision of a little man swinging, and then — bada bing, bada boom — I make it the next day. But it’s not always so easy. Sometimes a great design comes to me after spending hours pacing around, thinking really, really hard about an idea.
What does handmade mean to you?
To me, handmade is about having an idea and turning it into something you can hold in your hands. I started to make things by hand because I couldn’t find certain items that I wanted to use or wear, like a purse/notebook combination, or a ring that looks like a shooting star. I figured, if these things didn’t exist yet, I might as well make them myself!
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My folks have been huge influences on my work. My mom is a great all-around crafter, and I’ve always envied her quilting skills (fibers and I don’t mix). Since my dad is a jeweler, he’s a great resource. Sometimes I’ll send him a picture of a ring I made and he tells me he made a very similar one in the 1970s. Whenever I can genuinely impress him with something I made, I know it’s a good piece.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I knew I was a maker when I sat down in front of the TV in 8th grade and started to make a purse out of duct tape. A few day later, Lucky Duct Designs was born (after an endless list of other names, including Damn Good Duct Tape). I was blown away that all I had to do was imagine a design, let my hands go wild with duct tape, and then a purse was born. And people would buy them! What a country! I weened myself off of duct tape around senior year of college, but I had a good run. I like to think I was a pioneer in the duct tape fashion industry. I even wrote my college admissions essay on it. Thanks duct tape!
How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process is pretty simple. I see something in my mind and then I just sort of fool around with the materials until it works. I’m not a huge sketcher — more of a really awful doodler. Many times I’ll be working on a pendant and then realize it isn’t working out, only to find it has somehow morphed into a ring. I love that part of making jewelry — you really don’t know what you’re going to end up with until the very end. That is especially true with my nest rings. They take on a life of their own and are always a pleasant surprise.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I would love to see Alexander Calder’s studio. He was the famous sculptor who invented the mobile and used his sculptural skills to create jewelry.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My fiance and my dad worked together on a wooden record holder/stand. It was something we really needed, so I love how functional it is. I also love my air vent system, which my dad made for me out of an old metal bread box. It works great, and everyone who sees it thinks it’s some kind of robot.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Making things all day means lots of creative ruts. Sometimes I just need to shut down my brain and take a break, even if it means moving two feet to the couch. Other times all I need to do is leave the apartment and get an iced coffee. A creative rut is also a good time to get computer work done — after a few hours of photo editing, I can’t wait to get back to the bench!
Where would you like to be in ten years?
In ten years I’ll be 35. I hope to have a more established business — hopefully too big to contain in a living room. I also want to live in a pretty place with great light and bright walls — somewhere that’s in the country, but also the city. Is that so much to ask?