Art in Focus Interview: Janelle Edwards, Designer
RJ: Hello Janelle. Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview! I’m excited to strengthen connections. First, for background info, can you just introduce yourself? Tell me a little bit about Janelle Jewelry. How long has it been around? How did it get started and why?
J: So…about me. I am outgoing, but introverted. Love the intense focus and concentration required for my art. In addition to making jewelry, I enjoy dancing, reading, writing, and drawing. I LOVE nature. I feel the most at peace outside. However, I do not enjoy being cold so most of my outside time is in the spring and the summer. I am the most fulfilled when my schedule is full. It can be hard for me to sit still and relax at times, but I don’t mind that because I love my life!
I began Janelle Jewelry at the end of October on 2006. This is when I filed all the paperwork, obtained my licenses and became official. The story begins with me in college for business, on my way to graduating with my MBA and actively trying to find myself, discover exactly who I am, my personality and my style. As part of this journey I wanted to get my ears pierced, but was hesitant. I have an aversion to unnecessary pain. At the age of 22 I finally sucked it up and made the decision to just do it. I still remember sitting in the chair at Claire’s holding a teddy bear with a toddler assuring me that it wouldn’t hurt. Kid lied. But it was worth it in the end. Immediately after the ear piercing I was not pleased to find out that no store I visited carried what I felt was my perfect pair of earrings. Nothing called out to me, either for lack of gelling with my personality, or lack of originality.
I’ve been crafty my entire life so I thought, “I can do this!” I went to Michael’s and bought a jewelry tool starter kit, a pack of wire, a pack of beads, and a pack of earring hooks. I put the bead on one end of the wire and the earring hook on the other. I held up my first earring and exclaimed “This is the beginning of something big!!” I tend to get dramatic when I’m excited. My friend standing beside me laughed amused by my exaggerated enthusiasm after having completed one very basic earring. So began my jewelry making.
At that time the church I was attending had just purchased a new building and I was receiving positive attention from my classmates for my creations so I decided to begin selling them to help pay for it. When the time came to graduate a year or so later I weighed the options of working with one of the companies I had previously interned with. None of them seemed particularly attractive. Then one day in prayer and meditation it came to mind to pursue jewelry full time. As a current hobby I couldn’t see how this would support me, but it was the only option I had peace about. At first I had a part time job as well, but within two years the business grew to support me fully. As it turns out pursuing Janelle Jewelry full time has been one of the most satisfying and rewarding decisions I have ever made.
RJ: Your jewelry is very eclectic, and seems to build upon a variety of traditions. Where do you find inspiration?
J: I am inspired by vibrant colors, patterns, cultures that have historically embraced color and pattern into their way of being in an intense and obvious way. I am particularly drawn to Indian and African wear followed by the intricacies of some South American art in fashion. When I make jewelry I chose materials that inspire me because of their personality I perceive as it comes through in color, pattern, or influence on my imagination. I normally meditate before I make the jewelry because the inspiration comes from a peace within me. I like to embrace it as the creative force that spun the universe moving through me to create these little things that have this amazing power to move people to focus on their joy.
RJ: Anyone who meets you immediately notices your ebullient spirit. And the joy you show in person certainly comes through in the jewelry as well. But as you have told me before, when you were growing up, you weren’t always so joyful. Can you tell me a little about your transition to optimism?
J: I wasn’t always so joyful growing up mainly because as a child my quest to know all of the whys especially concerning spiritual things wasn’t taken seriously. When it was the adults around me did not have the answers I was seeking. At the same time I didn’t relate to the people around me my own age. I felt different and alone. Over time I became cynical and sarcastic.
I don’t remember the thought process that preceded this action, but sometime during my middle or high school years I began to sit outside and observe nature in my free time. I never kept track of the amount of time I would spend in the front yard of my parents’ house listening to birds, watching squirrels, the wind blowing through trees, the details in natural formations. However long it was, it was enough time for my mother to check on me a few times during each session with this sincere and concerned look in her eyes asking me if I was okay. Afterwards, when I felt contented with my time outside I would feel peaceful and renewed. In this peacefulness clear answers to the questions I was asking came to light. In the event there was no answer to a specific question at the time I discovered a peacefulness in the unknowing. I felt a joy I hadn’t met before begin to materialize. This joy grew to be contagious as well. It has been my greatest strength in my most trying times and a light and warmth to those around me. I am unexplainably thankful for this blessing.
RJ: Jewelry making is among the oldest of art forms. Visit a museum of ancient history, and beside the pottery and tools for hunting, you always find items used for adornment. Why do you think jewelry holds such an important position in the human experience?
J: I think jewelry holds such an important position in the human experience because it is a way of expressing ourselves without words that we can easily carry with us to remind ourselves of our identity, beliefs, goals, and beauty. The way we decorate ourselves is our identifier. As humans we search to put meaning to our existence. The way we adorn ourselves has the ability to remind ourselves who we are and what we believe in and to help us share these things with others.
RJ: What are your goals going forward for your art? Any exciting new projects?
J: The main goal I maintain in terms of going forward and evolving as an artist is to make sure I maintain a lifestyle as healthy as I know possible; mentally, emotionally, and physically. My creations are an extension of my inner self and I desire for them to have a roll in facilitating joy in those who view and wear them. A focus on wellness is a necessity when desiring a beautiful physical manifestation in my art.
As for exciting new projects, every time I sit down to create there is an element of excitement and newness. I don’t normally have a mental picture of the finished product before I begin. It’s more like I watch it manifest through the creative process. My eyes dart back and forth between the beautiful trinkets, stones, shells, piecing together each creation as if I’m making that perfect piece of wearable art that I would personally love to have in my collection.
RJ: Thanks so much for agreeing to be on Art in Focus. You’re the best.
You can purchase Janelle’s jewelry online at www.crazyfunkystuff.etsy.com