How it's made
BY MARC JOHNS
Designer Amanda Jex officially started her career in jewelry in 2008, launching
JEX Jewelry as a simple assembled jewellery line at Edmonton, Alberta boutique
Nokomis Clothing. She has since honed her skills in classrooms, apprenticeships
and workshops all over the globe from Vancouver, BC and London, UK to Jaipur,
India and Melbourne, Australia. It was during this time that she learned the
ancient art of lost wax casting, stone setting, wax carving, hand soldering and
forming that have become the fundamental processes she uses to create JEX
Studio designs today. JEX
Studio is committed to producing each and every piece of jewellery by hand
within the UK. We rest easy knowing that we have created a product that we
can stand proudly behind.
Q&A with MadeofJewelry.com
MoJ: What is your process?
Amanda: As a designer/maker, I like to challenge myself to design
or create at least one thing a day, it keeps things fresh and gets the
creativity flowing. When designing collections I will decide on a theme, and
then begin exploring my world and environment with some basic guidelines as to
the feeling I’m trying to convey for the season. I normally look to my own past
for little relics and objects that have had a lasting impression on me or make
me feel a certain way. While traveling I’ll also try to find objects that
strike me as unique or beautiful within other cultures or things that seem to
hold lasting emotive qualities.
Once I’ve sourced a sufficient amount of items & ideas, I attempt to
elevate them in such a way that they may evoke these sorts of lasting
impressions for others, it kind of snowballs from there. I approach my
workbench with a concept and inspiration and see what happens. Sketches
are translated into carved wax & then cast by me into a final metal form
that I hand finish and detail. 75% of my designs end up being sold as one off's, the concept either doesn't work or may not be cohesive enough for the collection, but
when it does work it's magic!
I try not to look at the fashion world so that my designs can be unique and
true to me. Hand finishing is done with great attention to detail. I think the
hand finishing is what keeps my super modern shapes looking warm and organic.
If I use stones in the design, these ethically sourced stones are also set by
MoJ: How did you get involved in designing jewelry?
Amanda: I was always making things. Being the daughter of creative
parents who always encouraged me to explore my creative inclinations, I had the
understanding early on that I could bring any idea to fruition with the right
planning. It’s a pretty powerful feeling. Just like any kid, I’d spend Summers
making and selling friendship bracelets at garage sales with friends, embroidering my jeans, collecting quartz and fossils, making 'potions' and fiddling around hammering copper wire in my
Dad’s workshop – this eventually provoked him to build me a beading loom. Once I hit the
mandatory Sears catalogue age of 9+ I got a rock tumbler for Christmas.. It all
just naturally evolved from there.
I graduated from a Liberal Arts high school where I had the opportunity to
study fine art and sculpture. Once graduation rolled around I knew I wanted to
continue studying art but also suffered from severe wanderlust and so (against my parents wishes) blew all
of my retail job savings and went traveling with a girlfriend around South America
for 3 months – here I came across countless communities of traditional artisans and
silversmiths, working with their hands while practicing the art of their elders - this experience really changed my perceptions of what I wanted
to do with my life. When I returned home I decided to leave my comfort zone and
move from Edmonton, Alberta to Vancouver, BC where I had been accepted into
Vancouver College’s Fashion Arts program with a focus on Clothing and Textile Design. After graduating I figured “why
pigeon hole myself?” and enrolled into a Metal Arts program.
The following Christmas my Dad gave me my late Grandpa Jex's metal files as a
gift. My entire childhood, I'd been surrounded by metal objects that he had
created with his own two hands in his spare time while working for the Royal
Canadian Air Force as a Metal Technician. He'd invented tools of his own to
make the job easier, the very tools that I played around with in my Dad's
workshop all those years ago. Working with metal, hammers and flame is in my
blood, and I hadn't even realized it.
Without that initial support from my family and community to get out there and
hit the ground running creatively, I couldn’t imagine where I’d be. It’s been a
pretty amazing journey.
MoJ: What do you want your customers to take away when they buy your pieces?
Amanda: Well, I am fortunate enough to spend my days doing what I
love most; giving people a snapshot of the way that I experience the world
through my work. I like to think I’m making something that my customers can
create a bond with, that act as a sort of personal talisman. Although each
design has a very specific inspiration for me, I like the wearer to decide what
it means to them. Ultimately, making a lasting impact is my motivation; to
ethically make something of substance to the wearer - that isn’t expendable in a disposable world.
I am consistently attempting to do my part to preserve traditional
metalsmithing as both an art form and way for me to sustain myself financially.
Thank you for supporting my little dream!