In the last feature before the Handmade Omaha’s “Modern Makers” Spring Bazaar, we spend time with Omaha artist Elisabeth of ElisabethSpace. See her beautiful, timeless jewelry and support local artists at this weekend’s event, April 20-21, at the Bancroft Market.
Describe what you create.
I make jewelry, focusing on earrings and necklaces. Bracelets and rings can pop-up on occasion. I try to blend high-quality materials with timeless design and precise construction.
Where did the name ElisabethSpace come from?
Oh my. My shop name … . One day, back in 2006, I stumbled onto this new site called Etsy and was hooked. In order to buy something (soap and lip balm, it was), I had to come up with a username. Without giving it much thought, I simply typed in ElisabethSpace. I never anticipated selling anything on Etsy, figuring it would just be a fun site where I could find interesting handmade items for myself and as gifts. Here we are, years later and the name just stuck. That said, I anticipate changing it in the near future.
How did you get started making jewelry?
I used to work at a coffee shop called the Village Grinder. When chatting with a regular customer, asking her what she was doing once she left the store, she told me she was headed to the annual bead bazaar. “Bead bazaar? What in the world is a bead bazaar?”
Out of curiosity, I went and found myself buying loads of beads just because they were beautiful. Having absolutely no idea what to do with them, they sat on a desk for months while I just gave them passing glances. Knowing I’d spent my hard-earned money on them, I finally decided I would teach myself how to make a necklace. (My very first necklace can be seen in the scrolling pictures on my etsy page.) After having such a positive reception to my work when people would see me wearing it or after having given it to friends as gifts, I decided to see if anybody would actually give me money for what I had been making. Lo and behold, they did! It’s been life changing.
How would you describe your style of jewelry?
I make beautiful jewelry for all different kinds of women. Hoping that my creations will be worn for years and years to come, I try to stay away from trends, focusing on, honestly, what I myself like to wear. Since I like a little bit of everything, that’s what you’ll find when you look at my work. Generally, I think of them as wearable, everyday pieces that hopefully become favorites of the women who wear them.
Tell us about moving back to Omaha.
I had lived in Seattle for three years. Anyone who’s been there understands why people are drawn to that city – it’s a vibrant, diverse place with unique neighborhoods and it’s just full of natural beauty. That said, it was definitely an expensive place to live and whenever I travelled anywhere, I found myself traveling back to Omaha to visit friends and family, waxing poetic about how wonderful it was when I was back in town. It just seemed like the time was right to move back. I love both towns equally, but my roots are here with the Omaha community.
If you could sell your jewelry anywhere in the world, where would you sell it?
Honestly, I’m fairly happy with having sold primarily online, as I’ve got jewelry all over the world now. I do, however, enjoy selling my creations face to face. The people buying my jewelry are some of the nicest, friendliest people ever, telling me exactly what they like about a design or telling me about the person to whom they’ll be giving the item.
Do you have a job outside of jewelry making?
Jewelry making is my main gig. When I was in Seattle, I couldn’t find a job, so I decided to start taking my jewelry making seriously, focusing on it day and night. Now that I’m back in Omaha, life is a bit more affordable, allowing me to do what I do.
Talk a little about your favorite materials and techniques.
I eat, sleep and breathe sterling silver. Every work surface I have is covered in chain, clasps, spools of wire, sheets of metal, snippets of this and that, etc. Semi-precious gemstones also play a huge role in my work, with labradorite, aquamarine and lapis being my recent favorites. Taking apart vintage jewelry to recreate with it is also something I love to do. As far as techniques, I do quite a bit of wrapped wire and hammered metal surfaces.
Describe your workspace.
Oh my, it’s a stinkin’ mess! That said, I’ve come to terms with that, knowing that I work best when I have everything in sight and at arm’s reach, rather than having it tucked away in cases. Having countless tiny parts means you either have to be obsessive with your organization or to just let it all hang out. I have a work table where I do my wire wrapping and designing in my studio and then a work bench in my basement where I do the messier hammering, sawing and filing work.
What’s your favorite tool and why is it your favorite?
My favorite tool is probably my Foredom flexshaft, which is a rotary tool that serves as an all-purpose workhorse. There are countless attachments and bits that can be used with it, which means I can drill holes in metal or stone, sand edges, polish surfaces, add surface textures, etc. It’s a huge timesaver.
As far as non-powered tools, my pliers are almost like extensions of my own fingers, I use them so much. A good, high-quality set of pliers and cutters is essential in what I do.
Where can my work be purchased?
Right now, my jewelry is only for sale in my Etsy shop. I plan on working with some local shops in the near future. If you, dear readers, have any suggestions for shops I should contact — or if you’re a shop who’d like to work with me — please feel free to contact me at eapercival (at) gmail (dot) com.