One of my most dog eared, overflowing with post-its, favourite creative books is Rejuvenating Jewels: New Designs from Vintage Treasures by Jeweler Amy Hanna. Its pages are filled with sumptious images, the most unexpected items are transformed into beautiful heirloom jewellery. I have followed Amy over the years, admiring from a distance her wonderful way of combining old with new; her fantastic sense of colour and her love for the hunt, be it rummaging through flea markets or antique stores, it’s always an adventure to see one of her pieces coming together.
So I reached out to Amy, one of my jewelery making heroes and she generously agreed to share her creative process and her love of the hunt for Les Petits Bonheurs. I hope you enjoy discovering more about Amy as much as I have!
“I started collecting when I was a child. I have always had a fascination with history.” Amy Hanna
What was the first piece of textile that made your heart sing?
“When I was a little girl the house I lived in was built on top of a lot that use to have one of the oldest houses in town on it. The contents of the house are actually kept in our town museum. I use to dig around in the yard to try to find some kind of piece from the original home. One day I was so excited to find a piece of broken china you would have thought I had found a pot of gold. I guess I was always an old soul. While traveling I think Paris really blew my mind with all the attention to detail, the colors, the casual perfection of imperfection.
I fell in love with the grey beauty of it.”
Is there anything that you can not imagine parting with?
“There are a few pieces of jewelry that I can’t imagine parting with. One being my Great Grandmother’s rhinestone brooch of a crown that I treasure not because it is so valuable and beautiful but because I loved her so much. Whenever I see it, it reminds me of her long long hair that she always wore up in a bun and her warm sweet smile. I also treasure a small cameo of a man and a women that is actually a tiny music box.”
Can you talk to us a little about your creative process: how long do you live with your found treasures before you start working with them?
“Sometimes I find myself keeping certain pieces and then one day I feel like it is ok to let it go. There are a few pieces that I wish I would have kept.
One that comes to mind is a vintage French hand painted portrait of a white haired lady that was painted on to Mother of pearl. I sold the piece a very long time ago but her face was so dreamy I still think of her. But I can’t have everything and I want the pieces that I create to be loved as much as I Ioved putting them together and using unusual special things is what makes them treasured.”
What do you look for when you are sourcing materials?
“I look for things that strike up curiosity in me. For example where did this come from, what was it used for how can I make the piece hold something or will it add humor.
I love dingy, sparkly, delicate, industrial, velvet, religious, souvenirs, mementos and playful things.
Although I am very excited to find a very old locket containing photos of a special someone inside it also makes me sad to think someone meant so much to someone at one time and somewhere this special memento got left to the world but how wonderful that someone else can appreciate and enjoy the captured moment in time.”
Do you listen to music while you work or do you prefer to create without distractions?
“Funny but I am usually in silence when I work. I like to be open to hearing my mind talk to me. When I do listen to music for some reason I find myself listening to the Cure, their music makes my mind dance around with crazy ideas which makes me more creative.”
Where is your favourite place for sourcing materials?
“I try to pick up interesting pieces from all over the place. I love to hunt for things while traveling to different countries, flea markets are the best.”
“I’m always excited to find a good antique store and I love to support other etsy shops as well. There are so many interesting things you can find on line.”
How and where do you sell your finished creations?
“I have had my things in upscale boutiques and I sell on etsy. I also sell while teaching classes. It sometimes blows my mind to think that I have sold pieces that I have made to people around the world.”
“I feel very blessed to have been given such wonderful opportunities to teach classes and sell my pieces. I never take that for-granted it is a true gift to be able to share your passion with other women. ”
You can read more about Amys work and inspiration on her wonderful blog
And see more of her beautiful jewels in her Etsy Shop