December 1, 2016
Claire Green Jewelry
Maker Spotlight + Giveaway
Claire Green is a jewelry designer originally hailing from upstate New York and has now made Portland, Oregon her base. Working with metal for over 10 years, Claire is currently drawn to the methods of manipulating metal from its flat, solid state into voluminous forms and textural shapes.
If you’ve been coveting a piece of Claire Green Jewelry, or have recently fallen in love, you’re in luck! Claire is giving away her timeless rust stone ring to a lucky Instagrammer! To enter, follow Claire Green on Instagram and tag a friend in our giveaway post. The winner will be chosen on Monday, December 5th.
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
I’ve played around with different business names over the years but finally settled on my name, although I still have mixed feelings about it! Sometimes I wish I had chosen more of a “brand” name because it’s a little less personal and I’m not one to share a ton about my private life in my business persona. On the other hand, I’m happy that most of my customers know that when they buy something from me they are dealing with a single artist/ craftsperson and not a “brand.” I am the designer, maker, photographer, social media manager, and so on! Personal connection has become more and more important to me over the years, especially in the age of cold emails and social media and I am extremely grateful for the relationships I’ve built with customers and store owners who represent my work.
Have you always been passionate about design?
Totally. And more than just design, I’d say I’ve always been passionate about the tactile experience of making. I’ve dabbled in sculpture, painting, ceramics and pretty much every weird craft you can imagine. I think a lot of makers feel similarly. I just happened to fall into this particular field, but I think I’d be happy doing anything with my hands.
Why did you start working in this particular craft?
I started taking jewelry and metals classes in college and was totally hooked. After graduating I decided to go on to a MFA program at RIT’s School for American Crafts in Rochester, NY. That was a really interesting time in my life and I focused less on wearable jewelry and more on conceptual art and large scale metal sculpture. After grad school I immediately went on to work for a small fine jewelry manufacturer in Ithaca, NY. My boss and mentor was a super old school goldsmith and he taught be so much! I came to specialize in pave diamond setting and hand-engraving, which requires an insane attention to detail. Although I was learning a ton, I wasn’t able to pursue my own designs during this time. I remember setting up a tiny workbench in my apartment, hoping that inspiration would hit but most days I came home so exhausted that the last thing I wanted to do was make more jewelry. I eventually made the decision to leave that job to pursue my own business, and I am so glad I did!
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
Most of my pieces are brass or sterling silver, but I give them the same attention I would give to gold. I like to make work that feels relevant, yet pretty classic and I hope that my craftsmanship and attention to detail come through. There are so many awesome jewelry designers out there these days and I feel lucky to be in their company!
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Oh gawd, yes! I would say running a small business is just one failure after another! I am not a natural business person, so I make a lot of decisions based on emotion and not necessarily on what is smart, efficient, or cost effective. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to reach out to other people who are talented in the areas I am not. I am a control freak and this is still a challenge to me, but I am constantly learning to let go and ask for help.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Oh yea, haha! I’ve sacrificed monetary security, time with friends and family (especially during the holidays), and sometimes my health and sanity! I know my fellow makers would agree that working for yourself is not all sunshine and butterflies but there are many benefits. I’m grateful to be able to make my own schedule, to pursue nature and inspiration when I need it, and to connect with my greater creative community.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Portland is the best! I’ve lived here for just about three years, and I felt welcome as soon as I arrived. I’ve been lucky to connect with a really great community of fellow designers who encourage each other and share creative resources. I don’t think my business would be what it is today without the support of my community here. Oh, and I can’t forget the insane amount of natural beauty surrounding this city, that’s pretty great too.
What are some inspirations for your work?
So many different things inspire me! Just to ramble off a few I’d say… gemstones, the colors and natural formations of the earth, travel, people watching, powerful independent women, contemporary sculpture, human connection, collaboration, fashion as a means of personal expression.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Hmm, my best advice is to make sure you are doing something that brings you joy, and to step away when it begins to feel monotonous and draining. There have been many times when I have lost my sense of inspiration and connection to my work and I’ve spoken to many makers who feel similarly at times. Running a business is extremely taxing, and it can be even harder when your product is inextricably linked to your creative spirit. I’ve had to learn to take space, try new things, and reconnect with what is important to me so that I can circle back to my work in a more engaged and inspired way. This past summer I decided to play around with leather craft when I was feeling overwhelmed and sick of jewelry making. I made a few bags (which I’ll be bringing with me to Renegade!) and I gave myself some time to explore. I guess my advice to makers is… do whatever it is you need to do to maintain a sense of excitement for your work, otherwise you won’t be able to stick it out in the long run!