By Taylor Crockett
"Just prior to my birth, one of my Mom's late best friends placed a large rose quartz in my crib, thus beginning my collection."
I like to say that jewelry snuck up on me in my life. I have always been deeply connected to art, especially illustrations, comics, and animation. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Fine Arts and have since worked in freelance illustration, character design, comics, storyboarding, set design, and any creative work I could get my hands on. My passion for art is rivaled only by one for the environment - especially rocks and minerals. Just prior to my birth, one of my Mom's late best friends placed a large rose quartz in my crib, thus beginning my collection. My fascination with the beauty produced by the natural world has culminated in a collection of rocks, crystals, and fossils that have traveled with me. The rose quartz is always by my bed.
"I was actively working at the bench when I realized that I have always had a lifelong love of jewelry."
I say jewelry 'snuck up' on me because it was always there, but never something I even imagined I would find myself doing professionally. It was somehow not until I was actively working at the bench when I realized that I have always had a lifelong love of jewelry, especially fostered by my grandmother whose collection is impressive and stunningly curated. My love of rocks combined with her patience and willingness to let me ask questions about and try on any of her jewelry began building a quiet passion within me. In 2013 while living on Bainbridge Island, I frequented a local custom jewelry shop with a collection of antiques, crystals, and sculptures. While I couldn't afford much, they tolerated my constant gawking as my lifelong love of these things gave me a strong base of understanding and identifying materials. Eventually they asked me if I would like to join as an apprentice bench jeweler. I had no idea what this meant, but I was excited to try. Since then I have worked in a number of custom shops as an apprentice to master jewelers and designers in the art of wax carving, casting, repairs, and other jeweler skills.
"My process typically starts with meeting with my client in person."
Having trained and worked in a number of jewelry establishments, my biggest goal at Baraka has been to discover how to marry my skills as an illustrator with my training as a bench jeweler. My time and training at the bench has allowed me to collaborate with our bench jeweler to create designs that I know are strong, safe, and secure, something designers without bench experience often struggle with. My process typically starts with meeting with my client in person (or virtually) where we can look at pieces and gems in the shop, online, or from their own collection. From there we begin to get an idea of what they do and don't like, how we can incorporate personal elements, and how to build a piece that fits their lifestyle. This is where my "homework" begins - putting together the puzzle. With all the pieces in front of me, I take the time to arrange them in a variety of ways in the form of my drawings.
"In our modern world, I love the imperfect process of drawing everything by hand."
Once I have a selection of designs I'm happy with, I pass those along to the client. They then tell me which design they like best or which elements they like from each, and we narrow them down until we create exactly what they've had in mind but couldn't quite create on their own. Throughout this I am also sourcing the necessary gems, or looking through whatever my client has shared with me of their own pieces to see what we can salvage from vintage or unworn jewelry. From there we check in with the bench jeweler to make sure everything makes sense and then proceed to the 3D rendering stage. In our modern world and where most everything is now rendered perfectly by computer, I love the imperfect process of drawing everything by hand. The intimacy of traditional illustrations on paper is something special that I love to share with my clients as we work together to make something we intend to last forever. I put a lot of love into my drawings and am always happy to share them as a part of the memories of our project together. Being at Baraka has allowed me to express passions I thought were unrelated, only to find they were inextricably linked.