It all began with a broken plate. Heather's favorite plate. Her experience as a glass artist transferred nicely to the medium of fine china; cutting, grinding and polishing came naturally. She salvaged the shards of her beloved plate, making them into a beautiful, one of a kind necklace – a crisis averted and a new path discovered all at once.
Working from her Portland studio, she saves vintage china from thrift stores, basements and the landfill, re-creating them into one-of-a-kind pieces wearable art.
Heather's work is new in-store and is available as part of our Annual Jewelry Invitational. Check out the collection here, stop into the store or book a virtual appointment to oooh and ahhh over each piece just like we did. Read on to learn more about her and her work.
How would you describe what you make?
I hand-carve jewelry from fine china. Each piece is one of a kind, and made from salvaged, thrifted, or donated material. The pieces are finished with gold fill and sterling silver components.
What drew you to this medium and style of work?
Material+Movement was inspired by a simple broken dish. I spent over a decade as a glass artist cutting, grinding, and polishing blown glass sculptures. I transferred my skills to a favorite plate that shattered in the kitchen one day as a way to reclaim the shards and make them relevant once again. I had discovered a new-to-me material and a fun way to transform beautiful but outdated objects into new creations.
Is there an easter egg in any of your pieces? A detail that you particularly love that others may overlook?
I love that moment when people who are new to my work discover what it’s made from. It’s not always obvious that the material is pieces of china, so when it clicks in their mind, their face lights up and they become enthusiastic. It makes me feel happy every time.
If you could collaborate with anyone (living or not), who would it be and why?
I went to Italy for Milan Design Week years ago, and literally stumbled into a tiny shop when I noticed broken pieces of china displayed in their windows. It was a second-generation family business that restored broken ceramic pieces and painted custom patterns on china. The older brother-sister duo was very friendly and showed me their workspace when I showed them my earrings and poorly translated in Italian the type of work I made. I commissioned a few plates from them and always wanted to go back and have them design custom patterns that I could carve into jewelry. Sadly, COVID shut down their business this year, but they are enjoying their retirement.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Say yes to every opportunity that comes along, especially when you’re first starting out. Often we have expectations for who we want our customers to be, or how our work should show up in the world. But we only have so much control over those things, and sometimes success lies in places we would have never thought of.
Can you describe your favorite part of the process in your work?
My favorite part is when each rough-cut piece is in the final polishing stage. It transforms the piece from a shard to a refined object that is really pleasant to the touch, like a worry stone. It’s still exciting to me after 10 plus years of making this work.
When you are in the studio, what are you listening to?
I tend to vacillate between music and podcasts. Lately I’ve been catching up on the podcast Codeswitch, and I regularly keep up with Terry Gross’ Fresh Air podcast which I find both illuminating and comforting. If I’m listening to music, it’s usually Rap and R&B.
What is your most treasured handmade possession?
I’m fortunate to have many handmade items so this is a hard question to answer. I’ll have to give you my top 3: A silver ring that my dad made when he was in high school, an early love letter written by my talented partner, and a pair of reclaimed-wood earrings gifted to me from my brother.