I'm Wendy Jenkins-Mierke of The Silver Agenda, custom and handmade sterling silver jewelry. I'm a mom of two busy boys and work part-time at an employee benefits company. I think I've always known that I wanted to do something creative when I grew up because as a child I was always giving my mom a new hairdo or sewing my own clothing. After I graduated high school, I heard about the Jewelry Construction course offered at Sturgeon Creek Collegiate. I enrolled immediately and discovered a love for designing jewelry. While I was taking the course I had the great opportunity to intern at a goldsmith's shop. There I learned how to repair items, re-shank rings and the finishing process of custom made jewelry.
Some years went by, and being married and becoming mom took over. A few years ago during a reflective moment, the idea hit me: I have to get back into making jewelry. After teaching myself some new techniques I had made enough to start selling my designs. I received much positive feedback and gained the opportunity to showcase my work in a local shop on Corydon Avenue. This past January I opened my Etsy shop.
Explain your creation process?
I try to find a few moments a day where I reflect on making a new design. I have a little sketchbook I keep close by so I can quickly draw an image that pops into my head or even a few words that describe my designs. My husband recently turned our backyard storage shed into a studio for me, so once the little ones are tucked in I can retreat to my own private place and focus my attention on designing. When I'm working on a piece I think of its practicality, if it's truly wearable and how much diversity the customer can get out of the item.
What is your most significant goal for the coming year?
My primary goal is to launch my new line, Noble Silver. I have striven for all my pieces to be made with genuine silver. A few months ago I learned of a new medium, precious metal clay. It resembles clay, but contains millions of particles of pure silver. When the organic binder is burned away, either by torch or kiln you are left with a pure (.999) piece of silver jewelry. I am excited to be working with metal clay, because now I have the ability to make rings and set gemstones in my pieces without the use of expensive equipment. As well, with this new venture I am able to recycle all my materials resulting in absolutely no waste. I hope to launch my new line by November 15, 2010.
What has been your proudest moment as an artist?
It was was definitely seeing that other people are interested in my work and are attracted to my designs. Just realizing that I'm not making jewelry to suit my own tastes, and that I'm appealing to a broader audience makes me happy.
Why do you enjoy your craft?
I like to be challenged and am constantly studying to improve my work. I like that it keeps my mind active and my fingers nimble. As a mom I sometimes lose sight of my individual identity, so having this special skill helps me stay balanced. I love that I can create something suited to an individual that showcases a special memory or person in their life. Seeing the person's face light up when they open the jewelry box is worth all the time and energy I put into my craft.
You can visit The Silver Agenda on Etsy, or "like" The Silver Agenda on Facebook.
Stay tuned for another feature interview from the Winnipeg Etsy Street Team next Friday!