Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Jennifer Sarkilahti and I live in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. I share a studio space in Greenpoint with two talented designers, Jenny Gordy of the clothing line, Wiksten, and Shannon South of the recycled handbag line, Remade USA. The studio is part of a structure that formerly housed horse-drawn carriages and surrounds a courtyard garden with a fig tree. We have a great collaborative environment and we’re constantly motivating each other and bouncing around ideas.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Travel, whenever possible. My husband and I recently spent a few weeks in New Zealand. Hiking a glacier on the South Island gave me some ideas for my newest collection, The Fells. I also enjoy taking photographs. It’s my way of sorting and documenting life. Other than that, I watch movies, cook, go to the park, do yoga, and enjoy the killer food in our eclectic little neighborhood.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I’ve always been motivated by some inner creative impulse, without a real awareness of whether I was being an artist or not. I was definitely that child off in the corner by myself with the wild imagination. I’m lucky to have had supportive family, friends, and teachers that encouraged me along the way. I studied fine arts for many years and spent a lot of time painting before falling into jewelry making.
Please describe your creative process.
The process for my jewelry begins with pencil sketches of a design that I then carve by hand into wax. The wax is then cast into metal to create a master, and then a mold is created from the master to make multiples.
I love that working with wax is like making a tiny sculpture. You can see every detail that went into making it, and I think being able to see that touch of the hand makes it that much more interesting.
I am inspired by the notion of creating heirlooms; something rare and meaningful that can be passed down through the generations and reused over and over. I like how things age over time and develop their own sense of history. I have some beautiful pieces from my grandmother’s jewelry box that aren’t necessarily valuable, but are incredibly meaningful to me.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
In addition to her affection for unconventional jewelry, my grandmother also made crazy quilts with clothing scraps during the Great Depression. My mother still has all of them, but I’m hoping to one day have one in my possession.
Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke
On Design by Eva Zeisel
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Doubt and Belief in Painting by Gerhard Richter
Lines and Shapes series by Lena Corwin and Maria Alexandra Vettese
Websites (besides Etsy):
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
I just try to make something beautiful and original — if I fail I go back to the drawing board until I do. I try to somehow give it my signature, a mark as the maker, because that’s what I look for in something special.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I’m a fan of Alison’s (TeenAngster) News From the Craft + Style Blogosphere on Etsy’s Blog. I appreciate the amount of research that goes into her well-crafted posts. I also enjoy Favorites and Suggested Shops. Suggested Items could be interesting too.
How do you promote your work?
In ten years, where would you like to be?
Still designing and making things. But perhaps elsewhere, like somewhere in the country or by the sea.