Friday, September 20, 2013

Renegade Craft Fair | Chicago Summer 2013: Top 10 Stand-Out Jewelry Designers

On the real, I have scored some of my favorite and most unique jewelry pieces at festivals. A lot of jewelry designers don’t have a brick-and-mortar store and festivals are a major opportunity for these artists to showcase their designs to the public. Lucky for me, Chicago hosts amazing festivals and although the main attraction may be live music, DJ’s or food, I secretly go on “booth reconnaissance missions" for cool jewelry pieces.

Eclectic artisans from around the country exhibited their DIY goods at the Summer Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago on September 7th & 8thThis marquee festival, held in Wicker Park, was the Renegade's 11th year in Chicago.

All of my senses were captivated by the booths-upon-booths of fashion and jewelry, housewares, furniture, bath and body products, screen-printed art, paper goods…the list goes on. I was overwhelmed by designers’ contemporary designs, sustainable materials, and focus on the environment and community.

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Always on the lookout for new designers (at least new to me), I was excited to visit every single booth and “discover” emerging talents.   For this blog post, I narrowed my focus to jewelry designers that appeal to my own personal taste in jewelry: vintage design, pieces using unique techniques or the mix of natural and industrial materials.  With that said, I now present to you...

My Top 10 Stand-Out Jewelry Designers*

Therese Kuempel is a metalsmith and sculptor based in Chicago. She is also a student attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She works primarily in metal, hand fabricating one-of-a-kind jewelry. I love the mix of industrial metal and organic stones.

Sarah Safavi is a designer creating out of Sugarhouse in Salt Lake City. Each piece is crafted by hand mostly with limited vintage, repurposed and unusual materials. I have a soft spot for her handmade pieces with simplistic designs and inspiration from nature.

MuKee and its shop owner, Derek Keenan, are out of Denver, Colorado. The cool thing about MuKee’s jewelry and accessories is that they are handmade from reclaimed skateboards. Major points for the pieces with Chicago-centric designs (of course)!

COATT is a family-run design studio made up of COAgans and ScharlaTTS established in November 2010. Their line of jewelry centers around their morse-coded necklaces. Using gold dots and dashes on silk cord, their jewelry spells out words, names, and phrases in Morse Code such as Love, Sister and Hope. The delicate necklaces come in different length options and can be wrapped around your wrist to wear as a bracelet. Pieces can also be made to order with your monogram or name. What a unique concept!

Sandra Fettingis was born and raised in Chicago.  She currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado.  She is a designer of sculptures, murals and jewelry.  Her jewelry pieces are geometrically shaped in neutral shades and strong pops of color.  I especially like her transparent pieces which can accentuate any outfit without overpowering it.

Limbo Jewelry Design is the husband and wife team: Edson Enriquez (Designer/Creative Director) and Anne Rutt-Enriquez (sales, operations) out of Austin, Texas. The beauty of his jewelry aesthetic is in the clean lines of the basic and organic shapes.

Edson states on his website, "I am trying to prove a point with my work. Things, shapes, and forms are beautiful already. We as designers do not need to add to them or drastically transform them. Our job is to simply enhance them and present them the right way."

I scored a sterling silver 3-circle necklace. It’s lightweight, simple and super cute.

Molly McGrath is professionally trained as an architect-turned-designer. After using a laser cutter to make architectural models, she recognized the machine’s unique potential to make jewelry and other designed objects like wall hangings and homewares.

Molly designs and produces all of the work at her studio in San Francisco, and is focused on ethical and sustainable material sourcing, conceptual integrity, accessible pricing. Her work is inspired by botanical and geometric forms, perspective, textiles and optical illusions. I was mesmerized by the layered details and clean cuts made in each piece.

Being a bass player, music lover and having an affinity for pieces with Chicago references, I was INSTANTLY drawn to plastique*.  Eye-catching, laser cut acrylic and enamel jewelry with a very modern and minimalistic feel, this line was started in 2009 by graphic designer, Jen Murse, who designs and creates all pieces in San Francisco, California.

plastique* is a collection that is inspired by Jen Murse’s true passions.   Her designs include retro music devices, world famous skylines, graphic design expressions and geometric shapes adding a whimsical touch to any outfit.

Near the top of my list is Dollybird Jewelry, a Chicago-based company owned and operated by designer Katie Johansson.  Dollybird pieces are pretty special. I discovered her art at a Chicago festival years ago. I purchased a beautiful white turquoise heart-shaped necklace. It was the first time I have seen white turquoise. I’ve been a fan of her unbelievable quality and design ever since.

At the top of my list is GlamRocks Jewelry by Chicago-based designer Kristen Molenhouse. Established in 2010, Kristen has taken her painting, interior design background, and metalsmithing skills to create beautiful, modern pieces with an edge.

Using hand selected gemstones, minerals, metals, and design textiles, her pieces were a beautiful mix of all things I LOVE:

A little bit nature.
A little bit rock and roll. 
Vintage and modern rolled up in one and dipped in gorgeous craftsmanship. 

I am officially obsessed.

And there you have it!  All of the designers' collections are available online. Visit them on the web and support some of the brightest makers in contemporary craft and design!

I had more than my fill of inspiration and excitement to last me a least until the Renegade Craft Fair comes back to Chicago on December 7th & 8th!   For a complete list of the 2013 Renegade Craft Fair Chicago Makers, CLICK HERE.

* Bio details and most pictures are from the designers’ respective websites


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