Chicago native Julyssa Rose is a metalsmith, jewelry designer, and writer. When she isn’t thoughtfully crafting nostalgic-inspired pieces, she posts photography and short excerpts on her personal newsletter.
What was the first piece of jewelry you ever created?
My first piece was a pair of earrings called the Nani Hoops. I actually knew I wanted to create metal jewelry once I designed this piece, and I designed it years before learning how to be a metalsmith. These pieces remain one of my favorites, as they encapsulate my design philosophy flawlessly. They are a classic thick and chunky hoop, but from the side, its profile shows a square interior, which elevates and balances the piece, separating it from the many thick hoop earrings that already exist. They are lightweight and just wonderful and I am still extremely proud of this piece! I sometimes wonder how I accomplished them at such an early stage of my learning.
Did you grow up around fellow metalsmiths, or is it all self taught?
I did not grow up around any metalsmiths! In fact, I didn’t even know of this craft until a few months before I learned how to do it. I taught myself some skills, then I took two classes, and everything else has been all on my own since then! I am not opposed to taking more classes, though. There is so much to learn still.
Were you frustrated at first or had fun with it and went with the flow ?
There were definitely many times I found myself frustrated, especially because I wanted to do the most advanced work in the beginning, but the majority of the time I just let that go and had fun with it all. Before I started metalsmithing, I had done so much personal research that I felt fairly prepared once I was able to get my hands on materials and tools!
What is the most challenging part of selecting materials for use based on color, texture, size, and other characteristics?
I would say complexity is the most challenging part when selecting materials. What I mean by this is how complex the texture or size will make the piece for production. I never allow complexity to deter me from creating a piece, but it certainly makes things more stressful for me, and I have to wonder if it’s really worth it. Of course, it always is.
What’s your crafting process like? Do you have a workshop?
I do have a workshop, which was an absolute dream of mine for so long! The crafting process is certainly tedious. Once we are past the design and creation phase, the production part (where I am creating replicates for orders) is repetitive and meditative. I enjoy it, though it does require
long, straining hours! On production days, you will find me at my jeweler’s bench (my most prized purchase once I got my studio!) listening to a long and funny podcast, working until sunset.
Do you see yourself creating larger pieces of jewelry or sculptures?
There are no plans yet, but I am not opposed to the idea! I’d love a sculpture of my own in my future home. However, a lot of the appeal in jewelry-making for me was its dainty nature. This brought on such a set of satisfying challenges that I had to learn to accomplish. Of course, larger work would have plenty of challenges, too, but I just love the intricacies of small things.
You have a monthly newsletter, “Secret Door”. How did you start it?
I started my monthly door newsletter called Secret Door because I wanted to extend my jewelry universe beyond the confines of social media. My jewelry brand isn’t just a space to sell products, but a safe and cozy world to self-express, explore, create, and share. Creating the Secret Door newsletter allowed me to elaborate on these ideas in a long-form way. I call it Secret Door because I have these beautiful thoughts of stumbling upon a gorgeous door and behind it are all the nicest people, being creative together, sharing stories, and feeling safe. I aim for the newsletter to feel this way. Feel free to sign up for it on my website!
I always make myself some tea and isolate myself in my room, because I can’t have even the smallest distractions. From there, it’s all just a free flow mind-dump. I usually already have an idea of what I want to chat about, but nothing is ever very rigid. My thoughts definitely evolve as I write, so I go with it. I write poetry also, and the process is similar. Usually my favorite poems I have written were created by reminiscing and looking at old photos, or spontaneously when I am driving and fantasizing about life.