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Featured Shop: Mineralogy Design

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

My name is Theresa Cowan, and I handcraft limited edition and one-of-a-kind jewelry for my collection, Mineralogy. I live in Chicago’s historical Old Irving Park neighborhood with my husband and two parakeets.

My process is deeply rooted in the exploration of materials. All of my designs begin with a table full of minerals, vintage accents, chain, my camera, and a sketchbook. Unless I have something very specific in mind, I will play around with the minerals to see what colors and textures feel right together. My design process is uncontrived, which keeps me from feeling locked into a design.

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I take craftsmanship very seriously; to me, it’s the essential ingredient that stands between a great idea in your mind and a finished product. A lot of time and skill is put into the jewelry that I make, no matter how small or large the piece. It’s my job to offer my best work to my customers, and I try my very best to do this. I still enroll in metalsmithing classes of varying techniques so that I can continue to grow as an artist and perfect my craft.

In addition to craftsmanship, I think creating a visual image for the customer is just as important as creating the piece of jewelry. I prefer to author my jewelry through my photographs, rather than my words. I love creating a soft, light-filled environment in which to display my jewelry – to me this says more than the words I have to describe them.

I create art because it completes me – I am not the same without it in my life. My background is in painting and drawing, and during my college studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago I narrowed my focus to fashion illustration. To me, the unique part about making jewelry is that the art is not about myself, but rather how my concepts and creations are viewed and consumed by others.

As a consumer on Etsy, I enjoy the fact that so many shops are curated nicely with great pictures to complete the aesthetic. As a seller, I couldn’t ask for a more supportive community of buyers, admirers, and the Etsy admin team. The all-around support is great! I especially enjoy the treasuries – someone can enjoy my work without purchasing it, but they are still contributing to the growth of my business by sharing my jewelry with others.

I think my business is unique in the fact that my aesthetic is consistent from one collection to another. Because of the neutrality of my color palette, my jewelry can go from one season to the next without feeling out of place with the clothing of the season. I feel that my style has developed enough that my pieces are a clear demonstration of my brand, and they stand out on their own or in a group.

I also have the great opportunity to make many one-of-a-kind pieces that I sell at different retail events and at Roslyn, a local Chicago boutique. These pieces are made of incredible mineral specimens in different stone settings with a mixture of vintage elements that tie into the basic collections that I do. Although I don’t offer those styles online, the nice thing about my jewelry is that each piece is very unique due to the aberrant nature of the stones I work with. No two pieces are exactly alike.

Being the owner of a creative business is incredibly rewarding. I think it’s so exciting to have a hand in everything I do, from sourcing my materials and designing to making, packaging, and shipping the finished product. At times, it’s overwhelming to know that I am responsible for every last detail, but I have grown to find satisfaction in these challenges. I am so thankful that with an inspired mind, my two hands, and a lot of tools, I can be self-sustainable.

Maker photographs by Collin Hughes, product photographs by Mineralogy Design.

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