Artist of the Month: Nicole Stinnett
When it comes to jewelry, perhaps every girl is looking for that perfect, individual piece. We want something timeless, unique and elegant – something that begs others to say, “I’ve never seen anything like it!” Jewelry designer and metalsmith Nicole Stinnett manages to create that, and more.
Nicole was just a small child when she began playing around in her father’s basement-turned-jewelry studio, but it wasn’t until recently that she fully realized the potential of her talent. Finding inspiration in nearly everything – from honey bees to natural disasters – it’s no wonder her designs are all-encompassing, even breathtaking. Somehow, after hours of hard work, each finished piece manages to portray both the overtly intricate details of fine lines and perfectly placed holes, and the polished simplicity that comes from turning recycled metals into cherished collectibles.
Please tell us about your art...
My artwork is of the wearable metal persuasion also known as jewelry. I mainly work with brass, and silver; I can work in gold as well, but only on a commissioned basis at this time. In Portland, Oregon, where I’m based, there are a lot of places to purchase recycled materials so if it’s possible I source my metals that way. If I'm super lucky, sometimes I can find an old door with a brass door kick plate.
Being environmentally conscious is important to me, but I don’t necessarily believe recycled artwork has to look recycled. In fact, I usually don’t maintain a very used/reused look in my work. I just really enjoy working with metals and I don’t like to waste, so what the metal was in the first place does not really play a huge role in my work.
Everything I make is done by hand. There are no laser cutters involved, so each piece really is one of a kind from start to finish. The jewelry I’ve been making has been based on naturally occurring, architectural, and/or asymmetrical shapes with a sort of art deco flavor. There are some organic pieces as well, sort of ocean inspired, and I’m currently working on a few sphere-like pieces inspired by a video I watched of the asteroid that hit in Russia the other day. I prefer a clean look to my work because it’s more challenging to me to get an even finish than to hammer or texturize and cover the metal.
How/when did you start becoming an artist?
I would say I always have been one, I think my father taught me that. It is remembering how to be an artist that I find difficult, or wearing it as an identity. Over the last five years I have sold my work off my neck or out of my apartment to friends and their friends so it has just been happening very slowly and quietly. In all seriousness though, I would say this last January, when I took the leap and moved into a work studio solely for metalsmithing; that is when I chose to make art a priority in my life. I became an artist the day I signed the lease.
What do you draw inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from the things I see around me, my travels, things I have read, architecture, and definitely nature. For example my popular honeycomb-inspired line really stems from a few things I have read, namely the sickness that has come over our bees today, which is effecting the pollination of our food. There was an article about tombs that have been discovered in Egypt where they buried jars of honeycomb with the deceased, the honey found in those tombs withstood thousands of years and was still edible! The design of a hexagon is also just so intertwined in our lives on a molecular level I thought it should be on display. How can one not be inspired by it all, really?
Where are your favorite places to create art?
My number one is my tiny 7X9 foot studio space in Southeast Portland, with some jams playing and my phone off. Or outside my father’s garage.
What do you enjoy creating most?
I love creating any piece for the first time, or custom pieces the most. It is all the unforeseen mishaps or unplanned difficulties that prove challenging, fun, and humbling.
How can readers find and purchase your art?
Readers can find and purchase my jewelry online at my website, crowandstone.com/. I also can be found on Facebook, facebook.com/crowandstone, which has some updates of what new pieces are in the works, or which local store has it for sale.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
If there are other metalsmiths out there with questions, thoughts, or knowledge I would love to share or connect – there is always more room for me to learn something new, so feel free to contact me! Any styles or techniques from other countries, regions, or resources for that would be amazing. I love to travel and see with my own eyes, but the Internet is a beautiful thing as well, so get in touch if you feel so inclined!
Jessica J. Hill, the Teach Abroad Editor for Wandering Educators, is an Oregon native currently working in China. She writes about traveling, teaching abroad, and coming home. Find more of her stories here: http://www.missadventuretravel.com/