Spring Market is Coming & We're Excited to Welcome Found: in ABQ, a New & Featured Artis
Jessica deGruyter of Found: In ABQ pairs found natural ephemera with fascinating gems and minerals using traditional metal-smithing techniques, geometric clear acrylic pieces, and a certain sense of whimsy to make jewelry that evokes a modern day, and wearable curiosity cabinet.
FF: How did you begin your handmade journey?
FIA: I have been selling professionally at art/craft markets and in shops and galleries since 2010, but I have been a maker and an artist all my life. Some people describe their artistic inclinations in terms of love; my drive is more of an obsession. My grandparents made false teeth for a living, and jewelry as a hobby, since all of the tools and materials were at their fingertips. I spent a lot of time fascinated by the objects of their occupation and hobby as a child, and eventually became obsessed with jewelry as an adult.
I started out very small, working with beads, epoxy resin, and broken thrift store jewelry. Wanting to take my vision to the next step, I took a continuing education silver-smithing class with Kristen Diener. That is where I fell in the love with the torch, the hammers, and the rest of the accouterments of studio-art jewelry. The process of making jewelry this way is so physical--controlling the fire precisely, hammering and cutting and filing the raw metal into form--that I immediately knew it was something I wanted to master. As they say, the rest is history.
FF: What lead you to your current line of goods? What inspires your work?
FIA: I am inspired by the natural world--but especially where it interfaces with the trappings of humanity. The roadrunner perched on my neighbor's cinderblock wall in the morning, globe mallow flowers pushing through a crack in the sidewalk, a rusting Bud Light can five miles in from the campground—all are beautiful to me. I like to challenge people's ideas of what can be beautiful and precious--almost everyone can appreciate a butterfly wing, but a grasshopper wing is often repulsive. Why is a "Pecos diamond" from Roswell, NM less valuable than a princess-cut white diamond from a big department store via South Africa?
FF: What materials do you work with & why?
FIA: Working with a variety of traditional tools, including the acetylene torch my grandmother once used, I make strange and lovely jewelry that suggests a modern-day curiosity cabinet. My work joins such disparate materials as Plexiglas rescued from the waste stream, sterling silver and karat gold, and found natural ephemera like insect wings, flower petals, and molted feathers. Fascinating gems and minerals also feature prominently, including minerals found around my home state of New Mexico, like "Pecos diamonds", Sandia Mountain granite, and geode fragments from the lava fields of the Gila Wilderness.
Playfully enameled copper is another outstanding aspect of my jewelry line. I love the serendipity of the technique and the evocative names of the colors—lichen green, flame red, wax yellow, nitric blue, dove grey. I layer about 15 different enamel colors onto a single piece, kiln-firing the fine sugary powder into a hard glossy surface at a very hot 1450 degrees Fahrenheit. The results are always delightful, and sometimes surprising. I am aiming for a chimerical effect, like the sky or the landscape, liquid and shifting with the movement of sun and cloud.
FF: What excites you for the future?
FIA: Of course I’m excited to be a part of the Firefly Handmade Market for the first time this May! I look forward to sharing my work with a growing audience. I quit my day job in 2015 to pursue this artist life full-time, and so far it has been a wild adventure. Growing my business while maintaining my artistic vision is a challenge that I am eager to meet everyday.
FF: Where can your work be found in addition to Firefly Handmade Spring Market?
FIA: Year-round, you can find my work in Madrid, NM at Metallo Gallery, and at The Octopus and the Fox in ABQ, NM. My regularly updated Etsy shop is called, Found: in Albuquerque. I am also currently looking for new stockists that are interested in carrying my work.
Enjoy visiting and shopping with Jessica deGruyter and Found: in ABQ at Firefly Handmade Spring Market, May 20-21, 10am-4pm, Twenty Ninth Street shopping district, Boulder, CO!