FRIPP is 5! The Way Forward and From Whence We Came
Hi FRIPP Fam.
I wanted to take the time to reflect more completely on the changes that I want to implement in the way I've been running my business. Thank you for your interest in understanding this story. :)
From Whence We Came:
I started FRIPP in 2017 after spending 3.5 years as a designer and brand manager for a jewelry company that operated under a wholesale model. We sold direct to retailers-- large and small, did markets, catalogs, seasonal releases and so on. As I began to create FRIPP I was happy to continue in that mode of operation for a long while. I was grateful for this structure that I understood, and I felt comfortable and confident in building my business this way. But after a few years, many retail partnerships, a giant wholesale contract, and a pandemic that flipped things upside down, I found myself beginning to yearn for a shift.
The Way Forward:
I came into this craft as a sculptor who loved working in metal and who was also good at drawing (those were the things that initially got me hired as a jewelry designer). It feels only fitting that the artist in me has grown eager for greater expansion and expression.
One thing I specifically don't want to do as I attempt to outline the future direction of FRIPP is to speak in absolutes about what is coming next. What I do want to do is create space in my business and in my life to allow the next iteration of FRIPP to emerge authentically and naturally through pursuit of advancing my jewelry knowledge and skills.
The major shift is generally away from reproduction and toward one of a kind custom fine jewelry and unique costume jewelry pieces. It's not to say that I will never have a wholesale-able line again. I do think there's a place for that in my work, and I look forward to the next iteration, but for now I need to create space and part of that is bidding a loving farewell to many of the jewelry styles I've made over the years.
I had someone ask me in the last year what my favorite piece of jewelry was that I'd ever made, and it was striking because until that question was posed, I actually hadn't previously thought of the answer. What immediately came to mind were some of the wedding and engagement bands that I had made. I was surprised because those pieces have always been wrought with many trials of my skill level, and had often caused a fair amount of stress for me, primarily due to lack of experience. I realized the reason those pieces were so special to me is because they're so special to my clients, and because it is an honor to be entrusted to make these lifetime pieces of jewelry for people.
As I move forward with finding and defining this new iteration of FRIPP over time, I know that creating high quality custom, one-of-a-kind jewelry is perhaps the most important pursuit for my work. Creatively, I also know that I want to make at least a few pieces per year that are totally sculptural. Some of you know and many of you may not, but one of my goals for my work is to make jewelry for sci fi movies, here and there. I think this pursuit will invite me to continually push the envelope creatively, and will inspire me to expand my skills and creative boundaries around what is possible.
Over the next year or so I hope to devlop loads of skills including:
Wax Carving: Wax is used in jewelry making in the context of carving to create a jewelry piece, which is then surrounded by a plaster-like, one-time mold, melted out and cast in metal. Wax carving opens up a huge realm of possibility when considering what shapes are able to be made.
Stone Setting: I have dabbled in this, largely through self exploration. I've come up with my own processes and broken through with methods that actually work reasonably well. I've at least determined what kind of stone setting I am most interested in; heavy bezel setting, flush setting and inlay. They are some of the more advanced stone setting techniques. It does feel useful to narrow it down at least.
Stone Carving & Rock Hounding: I want to be sourcing my own gemstone material in the pacific north west. I have resisted incorporating much stone into my work because I've always felt that gemstones are so unique and, honestly, powerful. For me, as a sculptor-turned-jeweler, the idea of working with pre-cut shapes purchased usually sight-unseen has always felt off. It's not to say there will never be a place for it but its certainly my intention to bring as much connection and meaning into the material as well as the form of the jewelry I make. I'm specifically interested in carving in a way that flows with the forms I am creating-- to create continuous planes and curves across the surfaces of metal to stone, and in carving small symbols (as opposed to creating faceted stones, which I am not so interested in).
History of Jewelry and Adornment: I'm even possibly inventing the phrase "Adornment Theory," although I'd be thrilled to learn that it already exists. I am interested in studying jewelry and adornment across cultures and time with the intention of bringing more meaning into the way my jewelry is worn and interacted with. In this category I also intent to become familiar with cultural, ritual, regional and familial objects and expressions of representation such as a family crest, textiles, quilts, jewelry, tattoo, and so on.
As I embark on this year of study I plan to build myself a curriculum for the year, with milestones, homework practices, and final projects. (I did actually go to school to be a k-12 art teacher, so curriculum-building is not totally out of my realm of expertise!) I plan to work with some specific teachers and partner with like-minded visionaries to bring my new vision and process to life.
There may be a bit more to this but I've gotta get my morning started <3 <3 check back this evening if you want to read on. <3 <3