Portland, OR is known for being a fruitful hub of inspiration for artists and crafters of all kinds. One such maker is Amarette Gregor, a jewelry designer and metalsmith who creates wearable art that pops with color and whimsy. Read about Amarette's work and creative process here, then check out her merchant page to see her delightful earrings.
-What drew you to jewelry as your art form?
I'm a very emotional, sentimental person, and I have strong reactions to physical objects. When I see art or design I love, I want to have it as physically close to me as possible. I think that's the root of my attraction to jewelry -- that's how you can be closest to a design or object that resonates with you, because you can literally keep it touching your body. It's very natural to me to make art that stays with you, carried around on you, because that's my wish whenever I connect emotionally with a designed object. Jewelry is a little more practical than walking around hugging a painting. I also really enjoy the technical challenge of "I have this idea, how can I make it wearable?" I'm a problem solver first and foremost, so I love figuring out how to transform my ideas about shape, color, or texture into something that engages with the body.
-The juxtaposition of brass and acrylic in your work is so much fun. How did you pick your medium?
My material choices grow out of my curiosity and interest in challenging myself. I love taking something and turning it into something else, seeing how I can push the limits of what it was intended to do. The colored epoxy I use in my namo! line
comes from an industrial context, just meant to bond one thing to another. In my other line, Andiamo, I use recycled sewing thread in a completely different way than you'd expect. I love contrasting materials against one another, highlighting their basic natures while creating something new and surprising (and colorful!).
-You’ve just put up a beautiful new ‘Mezzaluna’ necklace on your site. What inspires your new projects?
I am always dreaming up new things. I decided I'd have to be an artist because I have so many ideas, it will take a lifetime to explore them all! Each design inspires ten other avenues to explore, and I have to really buckle down to finish something before I jump ahead. My production jewelry lines support my art practice because they're simpler explorations of themes I explore in larger pieces. Ultimately it all ties together and feeds off itself so I'm never ever short on ideas, only time!
Jewelry designer & metalsmith Amarette Gregor at the Portland Night Market
-We love the behind-the-scenes “#onmybench” posts that you share on Instagram and Facebook. How do you drop into your creative zone--any rituals or habits that help you get ready to work?
I love that hashtag! A lot of metalsmiths use it and it's always inspiring. My studio is at my dad's workshop, so I have a nice cue that it's time to work since I have to go there intentionally. But I always have a few things going at once, so if I get tired of a piece or I'm not in the mood, I can jump over and work on something else to get in the flow. (Jewelry) Production work also helps with that, since sometimes I need to work on something I know while my brain solves an art piece.
-Can you share some of the unique joys and challenges of your business?
I am so beyond thrilled to be doing what I'm doing. I love being my own boss and allowing my creative energy to drive me. I have amazing support from my family, so seeing how they have all been willing to jump in and help me has been incredible--one of the best parts. Really I want to be making things and problem solving every second of the day, so that part is just heaven.
It's hard to tear myself away from the studio to do the nitty-gritty business stuff--this is the hardest thing I've ever done! I wasn't really prepared for all the complexities of running a business. Getting things done in the studio is so different from bookkeeping, or taxes, or marketing...there's so much to learn, and it's all my responsibility. But then everything you accomplish feels amazing, because all the work pays off so directly. So it's definitely worth it.
Thanks for such an inspiring interview, Amarette!
To see more from Amarette, check out her merchant page or visit her on Facebook or Instagram.