Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a mere handful of months or are awaiting their first sale introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!
My name is Jessie Harris, and I design and hand-make jewellery in London. I graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2010. As a student, the majority of my works were conceptual audio installations. Using a computer as my main tool, I produced and manipulated systems related to human and natural phenomena.
After graduating, I was desperate to physically create again. I’ve always been a jewellery collector with a strong visual aesthetic, so it was a natural progression to take a course learning the skills required to make the pieces I wanted to own myself. What started as a personal venture quickly snowballed into a serious business, and I found myself creating my first collection in the spring of this year.
This collection, 11:11 (currently on sale in my Etsy shop), is in some ways a continuation of ideas I was exploring at art school. It is inspired by the ceremonial jewellery of ancient empires, where the pieces made often had a spiritual purpose, and reflects a curiosity in the ritualistic use of jewellery as a portal to the world of the non-human. The shapes may reference the jewellery of ancient civilizations, but they maintain modern graphic elements, with clean lines and cut out sections. These details are balanced with hand-carved and cast crystals, adding an organic heaviness to the pieces.
The processes I use are quite traditional. Everything is made by hand in the studio that I have set up in my North London home. Many of the pieces feature details that are cut from sheet metal, mainly brass and silver.
I also love (and taught myself) the method of wax carving and casting, where manipulating the material can become an almost sculptural process. The pieces I am currently working on involve the use of semi-precious stones like pyrite and different knotting techniques that will be incorporated into my next collection.
Since I primarily started designing for myself, it’s exciting to see other people wearing my jewelry, knowing that we are sharing a mutual appreciation for a design that came from a very personal idea. I see my pieces as being contemporary but maintaining longevity, and as each piece is handmade, they all differ slightly; no two are identical. I think it’s important that each piece feels individual to the person who owns it, and for it be wearable but distinctive, looking just as good with a plain white tee as a beautiful dress.
Going against the grain of the 9 to 5 and starting my own business has been daunting and exciting in equal measures. I have been very fortunate to have the support and expertise of friends and family who have provided help with everything from pricing models, photography and graphic design, to passing on inherited tools. It is exciting to be making jewellery with a talented group of people working around me. We can trade skills that mutually benefit each other, making the most of our abilities and occupations at a time where we wouldn’t necessarily afford to do so otherwise.
Though not necessarily the conventional path of a jeweller, I am proud of the route I have taken. My fine art education and self-taught methods encouraged me to think and see things in a certain way, and without that, I don’t think I would be making the pieces that I am.
All photos courtesy of JessieHarrisLondon.