This weekend I talked with my friend and fellow soprano from Bend Camerata, Amanda Herr. Amanda’s beautiful jewelry was featured at our recent concert when we modeled a variety of her styles.
M: Hi Amanda! So you are the artist behind Armoire Jewelry and Lifestyle Boutique. Tell me about how you developed your style as a jewelry artist. Your pieces have a really unique look.
A: I really like very delicate, dainty pieces and I design my jewelry based on the gemstone. If I see a piece that has natural shape or imperfection, I design the piece around the individual stone itself. I try to design my jewelry so it can be dressed up or down for any occasion.
M: We wore your jewelry at our last concert with our different black dresses. I thought your pieces looked spectacular with each look. They were very versatile pieces in that way. I usually think of performance jewelry being kind of bossy, like bigger, chunkier, flashier type pieces. But the total look of all of us wearing your jewelry was very elegant.
A: Yes I really like that word. ‘Elegant’ has been used a lot to describe the jewelry that I make. Elegant, streamlined, classy…
M: So did you start off making macaroni necklaces as a kid or how did you get your start?
A: (Laughing) Well I saw a necklace in a boutique that was a really long, two-strand gold chain necklace with rubies. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t afford the necklace but I thought maybe I could make something like it. So about five years ago I started learning off of YouTube how to wire wrap and work with different kinds of beads. I learned the hard way at times because beads can be very brittle, especially gemstones, so I practiced with less expensive glass beads. I worked my way up to high-end metals, gold fill, silver, and semi-precious gemstones.
M: All of your stones are now semi-precious, correct?
A: Yes, no plastic or glass beads, all natural gemstones. If I use anything different I always write down the product.
M: In terms of your style have you kept that vision of the original ruby necklace or have you gone beyond to create your own pieces?
A: What I’ve learned from watching other jewelry artisans who work with similar materials is that they develop ‘suites’ of designs, one style of earring, one necklace, that they make all of the time. With my work I think the threader earring is my signature piece and I will be developing that more. It’s understated, can be worn in so many different ways. For the rest of my pieces I like the layering aspect, wearing two necklaces at once, short and long. The point is to have all of the jewelry go together for various occasions.
M: So you can have a collection of Armoire Jewelry that can mix and match.
A: Yes exactly.
M: Your business name is ‘Armoire Jewelry and Lifestyle Boutique.’ Tell me about some of the other work you do for your shop.
A: In the winter I’ve made stockings and pillowcases, signs with calligraphy. So the Armoire name encompasses all of that work as well. I’ve worked a lot with coffee sacks, making tree skirts with coordinating fabrics. Last summer I also worked on a number of furniture pieces. I wouldn’t call my style shabby chic, but more of a modern, coastal style. I sold a number of pieces and work on consignment with Dwelling Furniture. Eventually I would love to have a shop or continue to work on more of those pieces. But jewelry is the main part of my work as an artisan.
M: So basically just bringing beauty into the world.
M: That was something that struck me about your home. I visited just a couple of months after you and your husband had purchased and renovated the house. It was like walking into a designer show home where everything coordinated. It must have been such a relief to buy your home and let all of these ideas out of your brain!
A: Oh yeah well of course I have a Pinterest board. Of course not everything works out as you think it will but it slowly comes together. I really enjoy it. I don’t think I’ll be putting in much more effort now! I like what I see and I’m good with that.
M: Well that’s great! So if you were to sum up your style as a jewelry artist, what would be your tagline?
A: Elegant, Streamlined, and Unique.
M: Did you get some good feedback after we wore your jewelry at our concert?
A: Yes! I got to chat with a number of people about my story and had quite a few people sign up for my newsletter.
M: Great! A few months ago I read a book that challenged me to think about how I spend my money. Specifically it challenged me to spend money in ways that supported my relationships with people around me, or supported people who were making a living in a way that valued their own relationships, especially family. I was so happy that my husband bought a few pieces from you for this past Mother’s Day. Those pieces are even more special to me, knowing that they were created by you.
A: Well thank you!
M: Thanks for talking with me. We really love your work.
Amanda Herr’s jewelry can be found at www.bendarmoire.com and on Facebook at “Bend Armoire.” She also works out of the Armature creative space in Bend, OR. In addition to her work as an artisan and singer she teaches choral music at High Desert Middle School.
Photo below: Chrysophrase threader earring by Amanda Herr