Today we’re featuring New Orleans’ jewelry designer Heather Elizabeth of Heather Elizabeth Designs. Heather specializes in original hand-crafted New Orleans inspired jewelry and accessories. I talked to Heather recently for the scoop behind her fabulous designs.
How long have you been making jewelry and what inspired you to choose this craft?
I started making New Orleans photograph jewelry in 2002. My inspiration simply comes from my love affair with the city of my birth, New Orleans. I am a 5th generation New Orleanian. I moved to NYC in 1995. I got so homesick in NYC that within a year I was back at home in my beloved New Orleans. Upon my return, I was hungry to know everything about NOLA. I had piles of New Orleans history books on my nightstand and I was shooting a lot of film around the city from 1996-2002. I decided to quit my job as the window dresser of Hurwitz Mintz on Royal Street in 2002. I had no idea what I was going to do to support myself. I looked around my home at all of my NOLA photographs laying around and my history books. It was at this point that an idea popped into my head to make jewelry of my NOLA photos. I started with only necklaces in 2002 and now the rest is history.
Is it your full-time occupation?
Heather Elizabeth Designs is my fulltime occupation.
What is your earliest recollection of arts and crafts as a passion?
I have been involved in arts and crafts since I was a little girl. My grandmother was very creative. She could sew elaborate dresses and make just about anything she wanted with her bare hands. Her own mother was milliner on Louisiana Avenue in the early 1900’s and made gorgeous hats. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and I think she had a tremendous impact on the nature of my business. It’s sad because she passed away when I was only 18 years old. But, I know she is watching over me and helping me in any way that she can. So, I suppose I am indebted to my ancestors for my creative streak.
Tell us a bit about your creative process. Do you start a project with a beginning, middle and ending in mind or does it evolve as you go?
My projects definitely have a beginning, middle and ending. I tend to be a person that concentrates on the end result. So, I usually “flesh” the whole idea out on paper and then proceed with creating the piece.
Whose work has inspired yours?
I am particularly fond of the portrait miniatures that men & women owned as keepsakes in the 1700 and mid- 1800’s. I also love all Victorian jewelry and Art Nouveau jewelry. I am especially fascinated with mourning jewelry of the Victorian period. The craftsmanship of these pieces has inspired me to create some new hand cast designs which I will be debuting in the Fall. If I were to pick an artist in the present day, it would be my friend Kiki Huston. She is a local jewelry designer and although her work is contemporary, she inspires me to keep coming up with new ideas and to try new techniques.
If you find yourself losing interest in a project do you feel guilty and push yourself to finish or set it aside saying, “ah it’s just not meant to be”? Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing projects?
If I start to lose interest in a project, I just take a break for a few days and come back to it. Sometimes it may even be as long as a week or two, but in the end I will get my projects done. As far as motivation goes, one thing I value is having a bulletin board with pictures of things that inspire me to be creative. I change the pictures on my inspiration board every now and then to keep things fresh. I am in the process right now of remodeling my studio space. One of things I will do when everything is in place in the studio, is to hang some art work of my friends who show at the local art markets. The art work of my friends will also serve to keep me inspired while I am busy at work!
Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself owning a Heather Elizabeth Designs boutique selling my unique jewelry in New Orleans.
Where can we purchase your jewelry?
You can purchase my jewelry online at http://www.hedesigns.com. You may also purchase my work at the Arts Market of New Orleans, Bywater Art Market & Harrison Avenue Marketplace year round (with the exception of June, July and August). And, lastly my work is sold at select shops around the GNO area and they are listed on my website.
Where you can find Heather Elizabeth on the web: