It’s no secret that New Jersey is home to countless artists. Many of these creators find inspiration through a passion for art that drives them to create; no matter if it’s in the kitchen, a pottery studio, or even their garage. Our series, I HeART New Jersey, celebrates these amazing artists and their designs. This month, we’re featuring some of the Garden State’s best jewelry artists who work with gemstones and glass; they specialize in crafting pieces of wearable art.
For the most part, these creators perfect their craft and sell their wares out of their own boutiques; often through the power of the internet or even in local markets. Here are just a few of our favorite local jewelry artisans using stones and glass. (If you missed last month’s I HeART New Jersey, click here to see more great artists.)
Caryn and Jordan McLeod of Eclectic Jewelry
Caryn and Jordan McLeod found their love of glass while living on the island of Cyprus. After taking a stained-glass course in window making, Caryn began making small pieces of jewelry. Soon after, the couple bought a kiln so they could fuse glass and sell their creations to tourists. The duo now live in New Jersey with their four children. Their line, Eclectic Jewelry, is simultaneously available in craft markets and many boutiques.
Caryn and Jordan are both graduates of the Fashion Institute of Technology. Their creations come to life by melting a specific kind of glass at 1,000 degrees; the glass is dichroic glass, which is a combination of two colors. The results are fun, artistic pieces that are iridescent and sparkly. True to their name, Eclectic Jewelry features mosaic-like styles and can’t-miss pieces that are sure to spark conversation.
Ashley Mills of Be Free Creations
Ashley Mills has a sense for both fashion and fitness. She often attends Megaformer or Barre classes, typically wearing an eye-catching, handcrafted piece of jewelry. Her passion for creativity results in pieces that evoke a sense of feeling free and resonate beauty.
What was initially a small tattoo in her early 20s led to an ongoing hobby for over 10 years. Mills works with gemstones, making malas as well as delicate necklaces, bracelets and earrings. She creates unique designs out of her in-home studio under the moniker Be Free Creations. Not surprisingly, each piece reflects her own personal style into her brand; she enjoys texturing metal and showcasing small semi-precious gemstones in layered minimalist designs.
Her designs come from an open, free-form process, one where she lets her creativity take over. She continues to learn new techniques, hoping to take her jewelry to the next level with exciting designs.
Be Free Creations can be found online and at markets along the Jersey Shore.
Sayaka Kawabata of Sayaka Kawabata Origami Jewelry
Ask Sayaka about her jewelry, and she’ll likely tell you it’s much more of a pleasurable hobby than a business. Her vocation, one where she makes jewelry of paper and origami forms, is something that she loves doing. Growing up in Japan, students learn origami in elementary school. Kawabata found enjoyment in the intricacies of the practice.
While in Japan selling jewelry, she was able to develop different techniques, like learning to add silver and beads. But it wasn’t until she came to the US that her two passions of origami and jewelry would combine; creating something by hand that was beautiful to the eye. At first, her original creations were given as gifts to colleagues. Soon after, she found inspiration in their positive feelings and responses. She continues to make new items and display them in a local boutique; where she also passes down her love of jewelry and origami to others.
Sayaka Kawabata Origami Jewelry can be purchased at TMC Boutique in New Providence, NJ.