Sunday, August 21, 2011

My journey to jewelry

I've been making jewelry all my life. One of my earliest memories is stringing a plastic bead necklace when I was about 3-1/2 years old. I put it on and played out the scene from Disney's "Cinderella" where the step-sisters rip Cinderella's dress apart. I broke that little plastic necklace and lost all of the beads, but I never lost my fascination with jewelry.

When I was young, I spent a lot of time going through my mother's jewelry box, even though it didn't contain much more than mood rings and cheap trinkets. She kept personal treasures in that jewelry box -- a tiny cloth doll from her great-grandmother, gifts from my father, a box of my own baby teeth -- and I realized that this was about more than sparkle and shine.

Jewelry is a treasure because it is a memory, a piece of the story of our lives.

In elementary school, I made rings and bracelets out of pieces of wire or knotted thread. In junior high and high school, I used my dad's pliers to fix broken jewelry. In my teens, I started selling jewelry to friends and gift shops. I made earrings with semi-precious stones purchased at a local gem show. I also made necklaces of little fabric pouches embellished with stones. Even before I knew much about the history of jewelry, I understood that jewelry was a kind of magic. In college I began learning about stone lore and geology, mythology and anthropology, symbolism and psychology, ancient art and history. I don't have an art degree, I have a degree in Psychology with an emphasis on Comparative Religious Studies.

Over the years, I continued to make jewelry for myself and for friends. Mostly basic stuff, a bead or pendant on a cord, a knotted hemp bracelet. Then, for my wedding in 1999, I designed my own necklace and put it together with wire, using beads, semiprecious stones and silver connectors. I also made my own wedding cake and my own bouquet.

When I was pregnant with my first child in 2000, I quit my job as a newspaper editor/columnist and began spending more time on jewelry. But it's not my full-time occupation. I'm also an author. I homeschool my children, and do charity work. But jewelry remains one of the loves of my life.

Jen Hilton makes one-of-a-kind jewelry sold through her website She is the founder of the Triangle Jewelry Makers and is featured in the books "Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings" and "1000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear, and Art" available at Amazon and other booksellers.

No comments:

Post a Comment