We continue our Meet the Maker series with a feature on one of our favorite jewelry artists in the city. Joanna Morgan creates timeless and beautiful pieces in her studio in Pioneer Square. We sat down with her to learn more about her craft and what it takes to make her wearable art.
When did you start making jewelry and why?
I feel I have always been creative, but I started making jewelry about 10 years ago. At the time I was living in New York and still had a full-time job. I would see things in stores that I liked but that I wanted to make changes to - since I was in New York I could go to the fashion district, pick up materials, and make what I wanted myself. It was a bit crazy. I would work my job all day, then create the jewelry pieces at night and bring them back into work the next morning to sell to my friends.
Then about nine years ago my husband and I moved to Seattle; six years ago I decided to work on my jewelry full time, and three years later I opened this studio. Since then I've started to become more interested in metal work and have become entrenched now in working with it.
What is your favorite thing to create?
Silver is my favorite metal to work in right now. It’s so versatile.
When creating jewelry I rarely make anything that is meant solely for special occasions. My jewelry won’t just sit in your jewelry box. It is meant to be worn every day, from work to drinks. You can dress it up or dress it down. It doesn't fit a certain season or age. It becomes a part of your life. It has longevity.
When my clients reach for their jewelry every morning they can feel comfort they have this piece. It might remind them of a special moment or a period of time. I feel privileged my jewelry can be that for people.
What inspires you and your creations?
I love museums. Any time I’m feeling depleted I go to museums or look at art books or beautiful websites. I am inspired by modern art, but I also love Roman and Greek history. I think whatever we create now is in some way a repetition of that time period.
My husband also jokes I make jewelry for myself. Everything I create needs to be something I would add to my own wardrobe.
How long does creating a piece take?
If I’m being honest I would have to say 50 years, which is about how old I am. When you create something you pour your life experiences into it. I may create something in one day, but it really took more than the actual hours I spent on it.
When I work on a new design, in addition to making it aesthetically pleasing, I also make sure that it is functional. It is extremely important to me that my designs are easy to wear. I try the pieces on, walk around in them, make adjustments – to the length of necklaces, weight of earrings, thickness of rings. I have to love it and want it first, and I want to make sure that a person who chooses to purchase my jewelry is not only satisfied with how pleasing to the eye it is, but also feels good wearing it. As you see, making a new design is a process.
What is your process?
I fill countless Moleskine notebooks with sketches. The inspiration can come anytime and anywhere so I doodle a lot. I try to do something creative every day. I think it brings ideas to fiddle about in the studio, even when I’m not working on anything particular.
Largely I am self-taught, but I also took some classes to learn the foundations of jewelry making. I think you need to learn the rules first, so you can break them.
How can people find you?
The best way to find me is my website, Joannamorgandesigns.com. It also shows you all the events I take part in (like the Pioneer Square Art Walk and Second Saturdays open studio events at the Tashiro Kaplan Building), where to find my studio, and how to contact me for special requests.
Thanks, Joanna! Know an amazing maker who should be featured? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.