Personal expressions: Jewelry by Jen Weddle
The Taos News 11-29-2015 - Jewelry, in the purest sense, is decoration for the person. If individuality is your dress style, then you must check out Jen Weddle’s jewelry. From rings to necklaces to bracelets and more — each piece is expertly handmade and no two pieces are alike. But to be clear, this is not “arts and crafts.” These are wearable pieces of art.
Weddle will present her new series and celebrates her permanent collection — consisting of various metals, precious stones, bead work, and mixed media of vintage findings. The show opens with a reception Saturday (Nov. 28), from 4-8 p.m. at Michael McCormick and Sons Gallery, 106 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free.
“At Jen’s show last year, we sold 160 pieces,” says Jamie Garrison, director at the Michael McCormick Gallery. “It really blew people away. We still get pictures from people who wear the jewelry out to galas.” Contemporary jewelry reflects the critical sensibility of the jewelry designer. Which is why Weddle named the collection of her new pieces: “Sacred.”
“I want each piece to look like and have the feeling like a relic, dug up from the past, from an ancient civilization,” Weddle said.
Weddle arrived in Taos three years ago. She first showed at Kristian Moore’s Letherwerks in the John Dunn Shops before moving exclusively to the Michael McCormick Gallery. Weddle, who recently turned 30, has a degree in metalsmithing from Texas Tech. “I’ve always been an artist,” she says. “I’ve been doing jewelry since I was 12.”
This constant working of her craft has resulted in a professional quality to each piece of jewelry. For example, a ring with a prominent bird figure looks like one piece. But Weddle points out that the ring is made up of several pieces –– all of which were she seamlessly soldered together.
This second annual one-woman exhibition is highly anticipated by collectors who are interested in buying one-of-kind works, as well as those buying into the early years of an emerging artist. It’s worth noting that in Taos, this is only Weddle’s third show.
“They’re stories,” McCormick says of Weddle’s jewelry. “People are buying a part of her emotional feelings. That’s what people say from all over the world. They look at them and ask, ‘Where did this come from?’ They’re more intrigued about the history of the composition.”
Weddle explains that she is constantly working so she really enjoys it when a person loves her jewelry because it is an appreciation of her hard work. “A lot of people ask if my jewelry is casted. That’s a flattering question to get. But I make all of my jewelry by hand,” says Weddle.
“You can definitely tell that she is getting this all from her head,” says Garrison. “She gets the materials together and uses her creativity. She just keeps working until it has a cohesive body. It’s amazing.”
Birds are a source of inspiration for Weddle. Thunderbirds, hawks, and falcons appear throughout her pieces. I love magpies. In college, I did all of my work around magpies. They’re the most intelligent. They pick things up and take it into their nest. That’s what I do,” says Weddle, who was also proud to explain she rescued a hawk a year ago.
“Even the little pieces, they are like little bits of energy from all over the world woven together by a magic string,” says McCormick. He points out that especially for the mixed media, these aren’t haphazard. Weddle intentionally sets the placement of each element. One piece can take months. “These pieces aren’t thrown together. This collection is like her Mount Everest,” says Garrison.
When Weddle is not creating jewelry, she is studying lapidary techniques. Her endeavor is to take rocks and cut and polish them for herself. At present, she sources some of her natural stones from Taos Gems, located on Paseo del Pueblo Sur. She also sources from a friend, whose deceased wife collected turquoise over the years, many from mines now closed.
In “The Art of Jewelry Design,” by Deborah Krupenia, the hallmarks of exquisite jewelry are “a unique approach to aesthetics, a strong sense of design, and an inventive attitude.” All three of these traits are evident in Weddle’s work.
The Michael McCormick Gallery is really showing how excited it is about Weddle’s jewelry by hosting a large party for its opening night reception. The wildly popular Damn Band will be performing, so expect plenty of dancing in the large gallery space. Light refreshments will also be served. This is an event that old and new friends will make a night out. All are welcome.
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