In 2004, Joanna Nealey started making beaded jewelry in her apartment. From there, she enrolled in a 3-week jewelry course at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine where she expanded to making crocheted fine silver bracelets. But, Nealey didn’t want to stop there.
“I decided I wanted to go to college during those three weeks and created my portfolio in 14 days,” Neadley said. “I had an interview at University of the Arts in Philadelphia within one month of my return. Thankfully, I was accepted and I got into the jewelry/metals program and I haven’t looked back since.”
Now, the talented jewelry designer works in the basement of her row home in Baltimore making jewels for Red Tree Boutique and for her online shop.
I had the pleasure of talking to Nealey about her endless love for being crafty and creative:
What are you inspired by when designing your jewelry?
I find inspiration everywhere! I have a really special backyard in Baltimore full of flowers in the spring time and an incredible steel fence made by artist Teresa Thompson. Whenever I need an idea, I go outside and look around me. I am also a huge fan of Karl Blossfeldt’s nature photography and that has inspired my way of looking at plants and reducing them to positive and negative shapes, light and shadow and color. I love color.
What are your favorite three pieces of jewelry you have designed? Why?
This is such a difficult question to answer! Well, if I have to choose I honestly think I would choose three things from my current production line. I am always most excited about what I am making right now and my favorites are always changing. So my first choice would be the structure medallion ($120), this was the first production piece I made and enameled and knew it was an awesome piece of jewelry. My second choice would be the geometric flower pendant which is a new piece ($115). It has all of my favorite elements, positive and negative space, bright color and it’s delicate looking with an edge. My third would be the latest piece, the oval flower pendant ($115), it’s a brand new piece and still going through some re-designing. I love this piece because it came from a really quick doodle on a scrap sheet of paper and turned into a fun pendant. I never throw out any paper with doodles, the best ideas always end up in the margins of some invoice or post office receipt!
What one piece in your jewelry line that you think every woman should own, and why?
I think without a doubt, every woman needs a big bright pair of earrings! The long structure earrings ($60), wide structure earrings ($60) and artichoke structure earrings ($50) are my best sellers. You can’t go wrong, I always choose a color that is a little crazy like bio-hazard green or flame orange. It’s a lot easier to throw on a fabulous bright pair of earrings with any outfit if you aren’t afraid of color, they go with everything! Even if I am wearing a sweatshirt and jeans walking the dog I probably have a fabulous pair of teal long structure earrings on.