Friday, September 30, 2011

October Artist of the Month~ Nancy Nelson

From the earliest cave paintings in Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, to Monet's water lilies, to modern ambient music, artists and designers have always been inspired by nature. Artist of the Month, Nancy Nelson, is one of those whose work so closely mimics nature's bounty that she uses cast twigs and branches in her work. After living in the metro DC, Nancy and her husband, (also her high school sweetheart), moved to the idealic countryside. This allowed Nancy to be surrounded by the things that she loves and inspires her: nature and her growing family.

One can see how these both influence her work. "Rain Drops" is a necklace with sparkling gemstones suspended from a rustic silver twig. "My Lovely Photo" is a tiny framed photo of a cherished one, strung on a delicate chain. "Lichen Earrings" are literally the lichen off an oak tree that has been cast in copper. Her whole catalog is like a walk through the forest on a crisp fall day. Likewise, this work is as timeless as the natural items it is inspired by.

Like her jewelry, Nancy is simply elegant and just purely sweet. Over the years that I've known Nancy and her husband, they are still some of the nicest people I've had the luck to spend a show next to. I've fallen more in love with her work as I've seen it develop. I have at least a handful of things on my christmas list, just from writing this blog post!

Read on to find out more about how Nancy balances nurturing two young girls *and* a growing business.

Q~ How did you get started?

A~ Well, besides for the yearning desire to become my own boss? My husband’s job transferred us to West Virginia. Due to this move, I was able to become a full time mom while trying to grow the business.

Q~ Do you have any special training or education?

A~ While obtaining my BFA in Industrial Design, I enrolled in a metalsmithing class. I was soon hooked and took as many classes I could before I graduated.

Q~ Do you have a favorite material, medium or substrate you love to work with?

A~ METAL. I mostly work in Sterling Silver but I have been exploring more with copper due to the rising costs of Silver and Gold.

Q~Why do you continue?

A~ That’s easy. Family, Passion & the Challenge.

Q~ What is a great(or greatest) success story?

A~ I like to think that success is measured in happiness. In those terms, I feel very successful. But, I guess my greatest business success story came recently when Anthropologie and Uncommon Goods both placed orders within the same week. Getting my jewelry into Antropologie has been my dream since I started the business.

Between building a new house and having two small children, my business always took a backseat. I vowed that 2011 would be the year I grow the business, or shall I say, “branch out”. These two orders validated that my hard work, dedication, a little luck & all the dreaming were paying off. :) However, every purchase no matter how small, large, online or in person is very special to me. It reassures me that people do like my product and I can turn my passion in to my lifelong career. I give thanks daily and never take anything for granted.

Q~What is one of your greatest failures?

A~ There have been many but I have learned so much from each one.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?

A~ The beauty that surrounds us --from the handpicked twig from my backyard to the laughter and curiosity of my children. I find inspiration to be everywhere if you choose to notice.

Q~Why do you make/create what you do?

A~ It is like breathing to me. I can’t image doing anything more natural than working with my hands and design.

Q~What is one thing you love about your business?

A~ That I am in totally control of my schedule. I can sleep in with my children, which usually never happens. We can stay in our pajamas all morning if we want. I can turn it all off and just spend time with my family and work when all is quiet and calm.

Q~What is next?

A~ Who knows, but I would like to think I will be creating jewelry long into my 80’s. I would like to get involved in more charity work and giving back to my community. :I have teamed up with Caitlin's Smiles, a non-profit organization and will be designing a tribute necklace within the next month of two. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to help put smiles and laughter on children facing chronic or life threatening illnesses.

Q~ Glass half full or half empty?

A~ Half Full!

You can check out Nancy's *wonderful* website at There is a full catalog of jewelry, as well as a list of store that carry her work.

Nancy Nelson Jewelry can also be found on facebook and twitter.

AND, you can meet Nancy in person and see her lovely designs for yourself. This weekend, she will be at:

Art on the Avenue Arts & Music Festival
October 1st
Mt. Vernon Ave. in Del Ray
Alexandria, VA
Booth # W131

Along with Nancy, there will be about 300 other artists, designers and craftspeople over taking MY neighborhood of Del Ray! There are kids games, a pie making contest, doddie treats, handcrafted custard, fresh brewed coffee, lots of local music and perhaps you?

I will be in spot W53, between E. Custis and Windsor. Check out the official Art on the Avenue website for information about taking metro, the festival map and music schedule. See you there! ~Jen