Friday, October 16, 2015

Amy Glaswand

Q&A with Amy Glaswand

Explain the transition from designing textiles to costume design to jewelry design.
  I was trained in the Fine Arts, with a focus on drawing and painting.  When I moved back to NY, I was searching for a job and was invited into a studio to develop a textile portfolio of designs.  The transition from large, loose paintings to small scale was very new to me- but I found immediate gratification in the process.  We would paint everything by hand, often working with major fashion houses to merchandise print designs ...developing a group around, say, an antique piece of fabric or jewel.  I was able to draw from my art training in terms of color, and form...but this work presented new design challenges.  

The move to costume design evolved from my love of story content and the fact that I had several friends working in the NY film community at that time.  I would apply for jobs on films and often get placed alongside the costume designer.  Many of the projects were period films, so I was required to visualize a setting, relate it to the character and time frame in order to "style" or design pieces for a scene.  It was another opportunity to stretch my visual skills.  Film design research developed my visual vocabulary of historical costumes and ornament.  I think the transition to film was a fantasy played this was a time period in which creative types could more easily "try on" different identities.  I have always loved jewelry and was interested in designing for many years.  When my daughter was born (she is now 27!), I enrolled in classical goldsmith classes.  I loved working at the bench, but was curious to develop more knowledge.  This led me to FIT where I took many rendering courses to develop my understanding of the scale of jewelry, as well as classes in CAD design.  I had started to work as a freelance designer as well, sketching collections of fashion jewelry for several companies.

Where do you find inspiration?
I would say that my inspiration comes from varied sources.  I am interested in ancient icons, shields, industrial forms, as well as nature.  What is most important to me, is my " interpretation" of these forms.  I may be walking the streets and an iron gate catches my eye...which can lead to a piece of jewelry.  My "Arch" collection is based on gothic arches used in Italian palaces, churches, etc.  I modernized the form and combined it with various materials to create the collection in a contemporary way.  Industrial forms such as gears or bridges are also an influence - which I think is reflected in my Ceres Collection.

Describe your design process.
I have various ways of approaching design.  I recently started to go to the Metropolitan Museum library to sketch.  There is a huge resource of books for me to view for inspiration.  Sometimes I will take an old design element and begin to sketch a group around this idea.  This may evolve into a future collection.  I also work in CAD and will often draw directly in the program.  As these programs are 3D, I can start to model a piece which gives me a clearer sense of what the actual form will be.  Jewelry is consumer driven, as opposed to fine art, so I pay attention to trends, colors, etc., but strive to distill the most exciting visual elements from the images that inspire me.

What do you love most about being a jewelry designer and working on your own collection?
My work in textiles and costumes, while fulfilling, was based on design as part of a much larger process.  Film is composed of a group of people working with specific skill sets, to complete one project.  Designing my own collection involves my engagement in the full completion of a line. While I work with other craftsman in fabricating each piece, I feel a close connection throughout all the development stages.  As a designer of a personal collection, I get to wear many hats each day.  I have to drive the marketing, take care of business aspects and contact retailers.  These are skills that were not developed in my earlier work.  I have also started to utilize social media...and this connection to a much larger audience fascinates me.

How does your experience in both textile and costume design influence your collection?
I definitely feel that my earlier design experience set the stage for jewelry design.   Textile design is a wonderful training ground for this work.  The involvement with shapes and composition on a small scale, were critical for me to sharpen my visual sensibility.  My designs are defined by the shapes that I dictate ...rather than by the shape of a stone.  It is most important for me to design a strong 2D form as the base of a collection.  My experience in the merchandising of a fashion/textile collection has been essential for me to draw upon as I "grow" each piece into a larger collection.

What is next for Amy Glaswand?
Looking to the future, my goal is to continue to expand the collection with newer materials, more varied shapes as well as more couture pieces.  Expanding my reach to new stores and consumers is also important.  Many of the people I have met to this point  have expertise that I rely on and I will continue to learn from them.   I hope be able to carve out more time to also draw and paint- as my weekly life drawing classes have provided a creative counterpoint.   Being at the helm of a jewelry line requires a constant juggling of resources and ideas.  I look forward to the surprises that my evolution as a designer/entrepreneur will reveal.

Amy Glaswand's Jewelry features 18 karat yellow gold, silver and rhodium plated silver with precious and semi-precious stones.  

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