Austin, Texas is a hot spot for cool makers and this Local Low Down highlights the outstanding work of jewelry designer & artist Zoe Comings. I really connected with her artistic sensibilities and thoughtful organic approach to creating without compromise. She manages to make bold statements with her delicate designs. I asked Zoe to share more about her influences and inspirations.
What do you create?
I create a porcelain jewelry line which blends my love of both clay and metal. (that bridges the gap between art and fashion.)
What is your background?
artistic family, formal education, working for women run creative businesses
I was raised by artists and would have to acknowledge that coming from a creative family, I was always encouraged to express myself. Aside from my creative upbringing and formal education in the arts, I was greatly influenced and inspired by working for creative, women-run businesses. I worked for a jeweler, production potter, and a glass artist, as well as years of retail for small family run businesses in jewelry and crafts. Seeing the various aspects of this over the years has given me a great deal of inspiration and knowledge about what is important to me in my creative path and the elements of my own business.
Who/what has influenced your vision?
I considered myself a dancer from a very early age and had no interest in visual arts whatsoever. In college I realized that I didn't want to follow that path and started seeking other creative outlets. When I discovered sculpture and jewelry I found that I loved making tangible objects, primarily working on a small scale, often to create a larger piece. I also find that my experience with dance has tied into how I design jewelry, paying attention to how a piece will wear on a person and move with them.
Coming from a small town I always had a bit of wanderlust to see more of this country. I did quite a bit of traveling around the US, hiking and exploring the natural beauty of various mountain formations, rivers, sedimentary rock, and mainly being wowed! by the magnitude of time and space that one can experience in the southwest. I settled for a few years in New Mexico where I discovered my love for clay. I can't think of a better place to study this material. From this point on I have considered myself a ceramic artist.
When I moved to Austin in 2006, I immediately found a studio space and great network of artists at Pump Project Art Complex in East Austin. In that space I was working on custom ceramic tile and housewares and began working again in jewelry. I would ask myself in the morning, 'Which do I feel like today, clay or metal?', keeping that separation distinct. I often felt when working with just clay or just metal, that something was missing. About three years ago I combined materials, and now absolutely love what I do. I love the process as much as the finished jewelry line.
Where do you find inspiration?
flipping through fashion magazines and walking in nature, in no particular order....
I find a great deal of inspiration from the occasional walk in nature, often evoking a memory of a natural element I have seen before or an emotion, for which I like to think brings a peaceful and timeless quality to the line rather than direct interpretation. I also find equally inspiring to flip through a fashion magazine/blog and try to picture what jewelry I would pair with a particular model's outfit. This is 'research' after all and super fun!
Do you have any favorite scents that you encounter in your daily life? jasmine & clay.
When I bought my house four years ago, one of the first things I did was to plant jasmine along both sides of my house so that I could smell it all around the house when in bloom. The jasmine by my studio is quite healthy and makes working outside in the spring so lovely. Also, every time I enter the studio I encounter the strong musty smell of clay which is both earthy and fresh, and thankfully a welcome scent.
Want a Zoe Comings piece in your collection? You are in luck because she has stockists throughout the country.