In our world of clutter and chaos, Amy Vander Els’ jewelry is a refreshing breath of simplicity and minimalism that you won’t ever want to take off. The Amesbury-based artist is the subject of our debut “Meet the Maker” series, featuring the creators and makers whose products get to call We Thieves home (at least until you take them home with you!). We believe that getting to know the personality and hands behind your purchase makes the piece that much more special. So without further ado, this is our official warm welcome to Amy!
Where are you from, and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in New Hampshire, wandered around the world for a while, and now have my home and my studio in Amesbury, Mass.
What is your craft?
I make jewelry out of metal, stationery with a typewriter, and art out of wax.
When and why did you start making jewelry?
When? With macaroni and yarn in kindergarten, glass seed beads and floss in high school, hemp and ceramic beads in college, and metal ever since. Why? I like to make things with my hands and also I like to give handmade gifts.
Can you tell us a bit about your process?
I usually have a spark of an idea, sometimes I sketch, but usually I cut shapes and punch holes and solder things together to try to make what I am picturing. Then I wear it around for a while and see if there is anything annoying or dangerous or blah about the design. Then I do a bit of market testing in person at my markets/shows. Then, if they are not annoying or dangerous or blah to me, and they are selling well at markets, I get them up on my site and out to my store accounts.
How would you describe your jewelry or aesthetic?
I have a hard time describing my jewelry. Someone very dear to me once said that it is "Simple, elegant and made with such good spirit." I liked that.
Who is your muse?
It's hard to pick one. Feist, Amelie, Charlotte Gainsbourg. I guess I like girls with bangs, quirkiness, and a unique sense of self and style *as I brush my bangs out of my eyes*
When did you decide you were going to start your own brand?
What’s the toughest thing about what you do?
Not taking rejection personally. I heard Sharon Louden speak once and she said "Rejection is just a difference of opinion". I try to remember that, rather than going to the dark place. It could just be timing, numbers, etc.
And the most rewarding?
My mom helps me once or twice a week in my studio, and I love having that time with her.
What are you inspired by right now?
The following poem. I am currently wearing my feminist-rage boots, my i'm-ready-to-riot-rings, and my-but-i-still-like-to-feel-pretty-earrings. I know it's not quite the intention of the poem, but you get what I mean.
What She Was Wearing by Denver Butson
this is my suicide dress
she told him
I only wear it on days
when I’m afraid
I might kill myself
if I don’t wear it
you’ve been wearing it
every day since we met
and these are my arson gloves
so you don’t set fire to something?
and this is my terrorism lipstick
my assault and battery eyeliner
my armed robbery boots
I’d like to undress you he said
but would that make me an accomplice?
and today she said I’m wearing
my infidelity underwear
so don’t get any ideas
and she put on her nervous breakdown hat
and walked out the door
If you could have one person commission a piece from you, who would it be?
Tell me about your favorite piece of jewelry you’ve made.
The next one.
If you’re not making jewelry, what are you doing?
Walking, running, reading, cooking. Also I am good at afternoon naps after working all morning.
Gold or silver?
Both, together. I like mixing metals.
Statement or delicate?
Delicate statements. And statement-y delicates.
Sunrise or sunset?
Favorite spots in Boston?
The courtyard in the Gardner Museum. And We Thieves, obvi.
Find Amy’s work at www.amyvanderels.com, or stop by We Thieves to try on her pieces in person!