Now This Is How to Make a Statement
If you equate statement jewelry with blinged-out madness, stop. Joanna Morgan, maker of bold but ever so slightly rough-hewn jewelry, lets you out your taste center stage without resorting to desperate measures.
“I believe in timeless pieces, in design with personality, and originality,” says Morgan. Her versatile and stylish jewelry can be worn everyday, a part of a modern wardrobe that will withstand the test of time.
The Whole Story
A banker-turned-designer, Seattle-based Morgan fills “countless” Moleskine sketchbooks with drawings before she begins work on a collection. “I'm inspired by what's perfect in its imperfection, contrasts and juxtapositions,” she says. “My studio is filled with driftwood, rocks, shells, chipped pottery, a mix of vintage and modern objects—I surround myself with things I like.” Also important to Morgan’s creative process are visits to museums and being outdoors. “Living in the Pacific Northwest we are blessed by being so close to gorgeous nature. When I’m taking my dog for a walk, outside, away from computers, phones and email, my mind feels free to roam and ideas start coming in.”
Hand-carved and cast using the lost wax process, Morgan’s designs are made from eco-friendly metal, brass and sterling silver, some embellished with semi-precious stones and cultured pearls. All her pieces are made locally in small quantities. “When I work on a new design, in addition to making it esthetically pleasing, I also make sure that it functional,” she says. “I try the pieces on, walk around in them, make adjustments to the length of necklaces, weight of earrings, thickness of rings. I want to make sure that a person who chooses to purchase my jewelry is not only satisfied with how pleasing to the eye it is, but also feels good wearing it.”
Five Minutes With Joanna Morgan
Q: What's an aspect of your work that would surprise people?
Joanna Morgan: It usually surprises people when they learn what I did before I started designing. I spent 15 years in banking and finance before I bid farewell to the corporate world. Once I got the jewelry bug I did take some classes, but I’m mostly self-taught. I never received a formal education in art or fashion, but was always living it and was strongly interested in it.
Q: What experience have you had that's made the greatest impact on the way you work?
JM: I grew up in communist Poland, and there was literally nothing available in stores that you could call fashionable, or even passably appropriate for a young girl, a teenager, or a young woman. So if you wanted something, you learned how to make it yourself—we knitted, crocheted, sewed, and made our own accessories. Growing up with so little taught me to be creative and also to invest in quality. Also, the result of this upbringing is the mindset to be inventive, self-sufficient, and resourceful, and not wasteful. I grew up with people who didn't have much, but were rich in experiences. This also echoes in my attitude towards consumerism—I believe that it's essential to invest in the best, and make better choices in what and how we buy. When I design, I think of jewelry that will withstand the test of time, and delight its wearer for years. I think it's a more joyful way to live and a more fulfilling way to create, knowing that your work will be valued.
Q: What adjective would your friends use to describe you?
JM: Energetic because I never seem to stop. Creative because of what I do. Positive because I really dislike negativity! My favorite saying is, “when life serves you lemons, start making lemonade.”