Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Iroquois Designs. Shop of the Week no. 4

Every Saturday a new shop of the week is chosen by the previous shop of the week from the number of treasuries made for them. This week that honour belongs to Jessica from Iroquios Designs. This is the winning treasury.

The very name ‘Iroquois Designs’ conjured up images of traditional Native American Indian art and crafts, before I even opened the shop page. I was not disappointed. Here you see all the colour and vibrancy of tribal tradition that you would expect. It’s almost like walking around a reservation. Here we have the feel of an ancient culture that is so similar to that which I am trying to reproduce in my own jewellery. Jessica has captured so much in the old ways, colours and feel of her work, yet maintained a modern and fashionable twist. A difficult balance to achieve, but I feel Jessica has done it beautifully.
So let’s find out a bit more about the artist behind all these wonderful pieces. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your work
I have been creating art since I was a child. It is a trait rooted deeply in my culture and family history. I basically got my start in the craft world doing pow-wows with my family across New York and the New England area. I would help out with family crafts, like feather earrings and dance sticks. We did them together. Eventually I started making little things here and there where I was allowed to keep the money. When I was a teenager, I tried convincing myself there was no money in being an artist and I earned a degree in Math. But by the time I was almost done with school I had started taking mostly art classes. I eventually went back to school, with my mom and we both got a fine arts degree.

What inspires your work?
My work is very influenced by my culture, but as to what actually inspires me? I have to ask, what doesn’t inspire? I think it is important to take inspiration wherever you can find it. It can come from a question, a suggestion, a challenge, a thing, another artist, a family member. It can come from anywhere, everywhere really.

Blue Dream Catcher Earrings

What are your favourite colours?
I don’t’ think I have a favourite colour I like to use. I make a lot of things with leather in them, so I tend to use lots of browns, although I do have leather in many different colours. I have been partial to blues lately.

What is your favourite medium/material?
I love working with clay even though I haven’t really had a change in several years. I normally don’t like

purple polymer clay floral design pendant 

getting my hands dirty, not even as a kid, but I love creating something beautiful from a lump of clay.  I also
love doing colour pencil drawings. I do drawings based on Eastern Woodland double curve designs, which mean balance in life. They are found on woodland work, like beadwork, quillwork and pottery. I started doing them on clay plates, and decided I would like to see how my variations would look in colour.

What is your favourite holiday destination?
I do not like to travel, and if it was up to me I would probably not go on vacation. We went to the Jersey shore this year, which was pretty good, and the best so far was our honeymoon in Santa Cruz, but it is too far to travel again.

    Light Brown Medicine Wheel set

What other artists work to you admire and aspire to?
I have been inspired by so many people growing up doing pow-wows. My family was probably most influential in my life. So many of them were and are artists. My Grandfather, Richard Chrisjohn, was a renowned woodcarver and he instilled a sense of culture through art and craft in my family which has lasted generations. I saw other family members carrying on his legacy and I knew I wanted to be part of that. As far as how I became interested in clay, I just loved the work of Mohawk artist Tammy Tarbell. I even told her one day, when I was a teenager, I loved her work and I was going to try to do clay one day.  She actually remembered, and reminded me many, many years later, and said “and you actually did it”. It was a very amazing moment for me.

What are you most proud of?
I feel most proud when I am actually able to inspire the younger generation to do art. Recently my 9 year old niece did a couple of double curve ATCs in my style. I had to have it, so I traded her for one of my cards.

Silver and copper tree of life

black beaded triangle earrings

     Earth Mother with face,

Thank you so much Jessica for this fascinating insight into yourself and your work. What a wonderful heritage and a great family history to be a part of. 

Do go and visit Iroquois Designs and see for yourself the wonderful work Jessica does. Click here. 

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