Our newest Spotlight, Emerge, was a collaborative effort with Stoneham, MA-based jewelry designer Jennifer Parrish. Earlier this year, photographer Gillian Bowling reached out to me about Jennifer's line, Parrish Relics. She explained to me Jennifer's delicate process and often the word "magical" would come up. I will admit that my first impression was "Renaissance Faire", but looking at the detail and craftsmanship that Jennifer puts into her work washed away any preconceived notions.
Her work truly is magical. As a stylist, I saw loads of potential in her pieces and proposed that if Jennifer was willing, that I wanted to feature her work in a less stylized and, for a lack of better terms, more commercial way. We rounded up Rose Fortuna for hair and makeup and one of NB's favorite models, Amanda Gordon (we owe her a photoshoot on a temperate day), and headed to Beacon Hill to make some spring magic. Uncle Pete's let us have a dressing room to call home for the day and we explored secret alleys and parks around the neighborhood.
The best part of this experience was getting to know Jennifer. She's as enchanting as her pieces and is quite accomplished. Remember Ugly Betty's "B" necklace? That's Parrish Relics. Jennifer's work has also made appearances on 30 Rock and Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, and notable museums such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum here in Boston and the British Museum sell her jewelry. After the jump, get to know this talented artist and learn how she's made a living out of doing what she loves most...
Liana Krupp: Tell us about your background. How did you become a jewelry designer?
Jennifer Parrish: Sometimes I feel like I have always been a jewelry designer! Putting pen springs on my doll’s arms as a kid after visiting the Egyptian wing at the MFA, or looking for odd things to hang from my ear in High School (it was the 80’s!).
My formal interest began when my Malden High Art Teacher suggested that I try and create my own jewelry instead of only utilizing found objects. From there I went on to The School of the Museum of Fine Arts where I studied Sculpture, Metalsmithing, Stained Glass & Art History.
I began selling my work to boutiques on Newbury Street during my college years so I was lucky to find an outlet early on. I continued making jewelry part-time while working for Vidal Sassoon as a receptionist until I dove into full time self employment about 12 years ago.
LK: What's the best way to describe your work?
JP: Handcrafted jewelry under the influence of Gothic Architecture, Nature and the Iconography of the past~
LK: Where do you find your inspiration?
JP: Boston is loaded with inspiration for me, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (which I am lucky enough to have designed for) is my absolute favorite place to go for an infusion of beauty. The Pre-Raphaelite painters of Victorian England are another inspiration, their unique view of beauty and nature really resonates with me. Venice, a place of wonder that I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting yet, but study fastidiously. Obviously Medieval & Renaissance Europe hold a lot of visual excitement for me and I am constantly trying to incorporate all of these elements into modern adornment that tells a story.
LK: Without sharing too much about your process, where do you find the unique and detailed elements that you use in your jewelry?
JP: I create every piece completely by hand. Either hand cut and ground Stained Glass or found images under glass are the centerpiece for frames sculpted of clay, using tiny tools to detail each piece and make them one of a kind. Painted with several different finishes, layered to give them a time worn appearance (which I find aesthetically pleasing, as if they are jewels recently discovered after being lost for centuries).
LK: Your work has been seen on TV and in movies, how did you break into that?
JP: While watching a particular tv show I noticed a lot of Artisan designed jewelry on the actresses. It led me to seek out the costume design team online and luckily found the woman responsible for representing many jewelry artists to the television and film industry. I sent her an email introducing her to my work and we met in NYC a short time later. She took me on as a client, which led to a lot of great exposure for my designs and the thrill of seeing something you have created on the big and small screen.
LK: What's in store for you in the future?
JP: I am currently working on a line for the British Museum’s Gift Shop, to coincide with their upcoming “Treasures of Heaven” Exhibition; saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe. I am thrilled to be working with them again, and would love to collaborate with more museum teams in the future. Would love to get more involved with the Boston Fashion scene, and continue to create more new work for my Etsy shops. ( I currently have two ~ Parrish Relics www.parrishrelics.etsy.com and my Wedding line that will be updated this Spring ~ www.lyraparrish.etsy.com )