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Today I have an interview for you with Nicole of Arrok Metal Studio. Nicole is one of the few formally trained silversmiths on Instagram and her skills are apparent in her work – from her intricate cutouts to her perfect brushed silver finish. Just a quick glance at her Instagram feed will reveal the influence and inspiration she draws from the natural world. Read on to discover how Nicole got her start in jewelry design and fabrication and find out what inspires her vision.
Can you describe the path you took to become a silversmith? What is your story?
I have always been a creative person and interested in the arts, but I never really knew how to harness this passion into something that I could apply for a satisfying career.
A few years ago I met a woman through chance. Our random conversation became the major catalyst in my creative life, the pivot point of my future. She pointed me in the direction of The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and I have been hooked on creating jewelry ever since.
I attended, and subsequently graduated from GIA, and immediately began the process of purchasing machinery and supplies for my studio and setting up my business. Once all of that was complete, I was finally able to begin my journey into the world of metalsmithing.
Arrok (stems from the words Arrow and Rock melded together) Metal Studio has been my prime focus and my passion for the last 7+ years.
I work very hard to create unique, bold and interesting jewelry that stands out from the norm. “Wear something different” is my motto.
I seek out and purchase stones that speak to me because they are different in some way or are not normally used in jewelry. I enjoy the fact that my pieces are out of the box and not conventional. I handcraft each piece of jewelry personally and I take pride in making sure that every piece is special and the utmost attention is given to detail.
I hope that people see the passion and heart that goes into my work. Every piece of Arrok jewelry is a wearable, one of a kind piece of art to be collected and cherished.
Do you come from a creative family? What was your favorite creative outlet in childhood?
I do not come from a creative family at all. Neither of my parents is in the arts. I was always drawing and painting as a child and I’ve gravitated towards creative things and art in general. For the longest time I didn’t know how to harness that creativity…then I found GIA and the world of fabricating jewelry.
Can you describe the workspace where the Arrok magic happens? Looks, smells, sounds…
I work out of a shared space with my husband in our garage. My workspace flows along one side and my husband’s workspace is along the opposite side. The lapidary equipment runs into both spaces and is used mainly by my husband.
My husband uses his space to work on his passion for cars. We own a 1930 Ford Model A hot rod and a 1942 Chevy that he has customized and works on in his free time. We generally work together most days. We are in the studio together but work on our separate things.
Pandora is always on, we listen to everything from country to punk, I love hair metal and it drives him crazy, haha! We do enjoy working closely together.
Is there another art form, era, or art movement from which you draw inspiration for your own craft?
My influences vary widely and my designs often do as well, although I do feel that my overall aesthetic speaks as “Arrok” even if the designs are quite different. I, as a woman, am not just one thing. I don’t have one interest or one style. My tastes vary from day to day and, therefore, so do my designs.
I don’t want to ever be pigeonholed into making only one thing or having one type of piece that I create. That being said, I am very inspired by tattoos and tattoo flash artwork. It’s probably my main influence if I had to choose one. My husband has been a tattoo artist for 17 years.
I also enjoy Mexican art and jewelry. Day of the Dead art and vintage Mexican jewelry is another big one…and, of course, nature.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
I work mainly in sterling and copper. I enjoy finding unique stones that aren’t used by a lot of other jewelers. My favorites are moss agate, and most stones in their raw form. I’m also very into tall ship scrimshaw lately. I’ve been collecting tall ship scrimshaw for quite a while along with buttons and other pieces that have either tall ships or anchors on them.
What sort of landscape most inspires you and why?
I am inspired by the mountains of the Southwest. I live in Southern California and most people don’t think that we have mountains here, but we do! The desert landscape with its cactus has beautiful mountains shooting up from the flat land, creating such a gorgeous, stark contrast.
The general public seems to be becoming more interesting in handcrafted wares. Why do you think this movement is gaining steam in today’s world?
I think that more and more people are looking for handmade crafts due to the personal nature of it. Buying handmade usually means that the item you are purchasing will be unique or one-of-a-kind, handcrafted and well made by a crafter who is passionate about what they do.
Can you give a shout-out to another contemporary artist or maker we ought to know about?
Oh my gosh, there are so many! But I would have to say that I really enjoy both Kirsten of @Inkspired and Kimera of @Gracemerewoods on Instagram. They both paint on wood, but each has her own style and vibe. Both are equally unique and inspiring to me.
Where do you sell your wares online and/or in-person? (Websites, craft fairs, etc.)
I sell on Etsy and I sometimes participate in art shows or craft fairs.
I appreciate you asking me to do this interview. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love every day. Fabricating jewelry has become my passion and it’s all I ever think about. It feels good to know that I can make a living doing what makes me happy.
♥ All photos are owned by the artist. Please click on the photo of an item and you will be magically transported to the artist’s shop. ♥
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