About the Artist
Emilie grew up on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, where water has always been her constant and her inspiration. She comes from a long line of creative entrepreneurs, inventors, and free spirits who have encouraged her to explore many different mediums throughout her artistic life. Emilie uses the ancient craft of lost wax casting which dates back to the Egyptians, wherein she carves sculptural pieces into hard wax and casts them into metal. Rough gemstones are incorporated into her work as a celebration of the beauty of natural imperfection. All production and resources are kept as local as possible, and every piece is handmade in Emilie’s studio in New York City.
Emilie received her B.F.A. in Art + Design with a concentration in jewelry and metalsmithing from Syracuse University. She also studied at Alchimia, a contemporary school of jewelry in Florence, Italy with artists Peter Bauhuis, Yoko Shimizu, and Marzia Rossi. Before launching her own jewelry line, Emilie worked as a bench jeweler and production manager for various jewelry companies in New York City. Emilie also teaches jewelry workshops at Liloveve Jewelry School, The 92Y, as well as workshops in her studio. Emilie is the author of How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line and Creative Wax Carving.
Emilie lives in Astoria, Queens with her husband, son and two not-so-social cats. When not creating jewelry Emilie loves to tend to her garden, knit and obsess about her plants.
“Wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” – Paolo Coehlo
I have always had a knack for design and business, but it took me many years to develop the skills and patience of a craftsperson. From my earliest days, I was interested in designing and creating things. My father worked in sales at a fabric mill in New York City’s garment district, so fabric samples in all sorts of patterns were always available in my playroom. I have fond memories of wandering the sample floor high above Eight Avenue and learning about color and texture. When I was five, I loved designing and making clothes for my dolls. Using my (not-so) safety scissors, I would cut up my fabric to make outfits for my dolls.
I made my first piece of jewelry when I was thirteen and haven’t stopped since then. After my grandmother passed away, I found a bag of her costume jewelry. I was always fascinated by how things were made, so I started taking apart my grandmother’s necklaces, bracelets, and brooches and putting them back together in a new way. When I was in high school, I started selling my jewelry to friends, family, and the people who would watch me make it at a local beach club.
Since I was interested in accessories, I enrolled in Syracuse University to pursue a career in fashion design. In the first semester of my freshman year, I almost failed my sewing 101 class because I didn’t follow the patterns and couldn’t care less what my seams looked like. Needless to say, it wasn’t for me. At this point, I was selling my jewelry designs out of my dorm room, when a professor suggested I take a metalsmithing class. To me, metalsmithing sounded like a genre of music, one that scared the classic rock lover in me. I can still remember the small of the studio on my first day of class. (It smelled like burning cuttlefish bone, because someone has been teaching a cuttlefish casting workshop. If you know, you know.) I felt like I was home and connected with something, but didn’t know why. With every skill and technique I learned, I grew more and more excited. My mind always knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to make, but I didn’t yet have the skill set to pull it off.
I loved working with metal because you could see the effort you put into the final product.
When I was nineteen, I boarded a plane to Florence, Italy, with an overpacked suitcase filled with sandals, sundresses and my jeweler’s saw. I had nothing more than an address on a sticky note to tell me where to go when the plane landed. I had been accepted into an independent study program at Alchimia, a well-known contemporary jewelry school just outside of Florence, in an artists’ and young professionals’ neighborhood called San Frediano. I remember getting out of the taxicab on via de Burchiello and ringing the bell of a three-story row house, hoping I was in the right place. I met my summer roommates, and, to my surprise, they were all jewelry students. In fact, almost everyone who lived in my building was a jeweller. At Syracuse University, there were just five people in my major. The year I graduated, there was only one other girl who had majored in metalsmithing. I would tell fellow students that I was a metalsmithing major, and they assumed I made knives and brass knuckles.
On my first day at Alchimia, we didn’t even touch a piece of metal. In fact, I don’t think I worked with metal the entire time I was there. We talked about the idea of jewelry and the concepts behind our work. We designed pieces to entice our senses, not look pretty. We talked about materials, and what would happen if you mixed sea salt with resin (it never cured, and I made a huge mess). What I learned while I was studying in Florence was how far I could push myself -- not just physically, but mentally, too.When you create something and put it into the world, you’re infusing it with meaning. I learned to think beyond the traditional techniques, to experiment with materials. I learned to problem solve -- to come up with a design and figure out how to make it. And to make it well. I made more pieces that summer than I had in the previous two years of college.
Looking back, that summer in Italy was a turning point in my life and in my career. Alchimia had taught me to take pride in good craftsmanship and understand that I had a lot more to learn before I could sell my work. After I graduated college, I took an internship on the jeweler’s bench with Pamela Love Jewelry, a young designer who already had a cult following for her edgy jewelry. During my time there as a bench jeweler, I did the same thing every day -- clean castings, cut, grind, sand, polish, repeat. As monotonous as it sounds, I really honed my skills there. Doing the same thing every day, you build muscle memory and strength, and train your hands to become fine-tuned instruments. I remember thinking, for the first time, that my hands knew what they were doing without even thinking about it. I was amazed by how much work we were producing every day.
Later, I became the production manager of the rapidly growing company. Truth be told I was in way over my head, but I learned a great deal about producing a jewelry line in-house in this position. Pamela’s dedication to sustainability and keeping as much of the production in our studio as possible, planted a very large seed in my mind. I eventually left the company because I wanted to pursue another passion of mine -- teaching.
I was always drawn to education; it’s in my blood. My mom is a schoolteacher, and my sisters had each taught in their respective fields -- culinary arts and law. While I was in college, I was a teacher’s assistant in a few classes and loved sparking a passion in students that left them wanting to learn more. I taught my first workshop at Liloveve Jewelry Studio, a small boutique studio in Brooklyn. I learned how to teach there, how much I loved it, and how the teacher is also a student. Eventually I became the program director there, creating exciting classes and workshops and developing curriculums for people who were passionate about jewelry. I found that most of our students -- people already in the industry or looking for a creative outlet -- wanted to learn another skill, and planned to create their own jewelry line. I was proud to be a bridge between the jewelry industry and ancient techniques and craftsmanship. I have taught thousands of students at the 92nd Street Y, the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum, the Brooklyn Brainery, and the Art League of Long Island, and I still teach today.
In 2016 I published my first book, “How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line” as a way to share my lessons with a broader audience. In 2017 I debuted my second book, “Creative Wax Carving” about the ancient technique and 15 step-by-step projects. I am a big believer in sharing knowledge with others, in hopes they, too, will be successful. By educating each other and our consumers, we are building a collective consciousness, which will help create support for and grow the market for handmade jewelry. The more we support each other, the more people will support the handmade movement.
When launching my own jewelry line, I wanted to structure it as a handmade line focusing on wholesale distribution to other retailers. “Art into Industry” is one of my favorite sayings from the Bauhaus school. My style came from the mix of my education and experience, focusing on good craftsmanship and experimentation with materials. I aimed to strike a balance between the art jewelry world and the production world. I’m inspired by the beauty in imperfection -- whether those imperfections come from the natural gemstone, the texture, or the technique. I hope the wearers of my jewelry see a reflection of themselves in my work, celebrating both imperfections and natural beauty.
Many shows and many learning experiences later, my work is sold internationally at specialty boutiques, museum shops, galleries, and department stores. I grew from creating my work in a dilapidated, shared, windowless Brooklyn studio with fake three-quarter walls, to having my own studio and showroom with a small, in-house team of bench jewelers and sales and marketing assistants (and floor to ceiling walls). I feel grateful every day that I own my business and have generated jobs for creative people, but, most of all, that I get to share my wearable artwork with people around the world.