Detailed, full-scale models of the Wright Brothers’ “powered” flyer and their glider are on display at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. North Carolina is also home to featured jewelry designer Clarity Orion Collins.
Who says that in order to become great at something you have to go through traditional channels?
Collins’ stunning designer jewelry is a sheer testament that ambition, dedication and trusting your instincts is more than enough to move one along a path to great accomplishments.
The offspring of non-traditional, “hippy parents,” who was named for “those perfectly crisp, clear days in October” and her mother’s favorite constellation, Collins’ unconventional upbringing would ultimately inform her decision to leave a “soul-sucking job” as a pharmaceutical sales manager to pursue a career in jewelry making.
“Growing up in a very non-traditional environment I wanted nothing more than to grow up and be 'normal'. My goals were to have a normal job in a normal town where I would live in a normal house with my normal husband and my 2.5 normal kids,” says Collins.
“After I worked my butt off for 10 long years in pharmaceuticals to achieve that normalcy, I discovered that I was patently miserable with my pantyhose and high-heels 'career', and wanted nothing more than to live an unfettered life that I could rightfully call my own.”
In the summer of 2009, Collins was laid off allowing her the opportunity to follow a path that truly fed her soul. By the fall of 2009 she would bravely take on teaching herself silversmithing learning the craft from the seasoned metalsmiths she met at Etsy.com.
With her living room serving as her studio, Collins utilized the generous input of her Etsy colleagues developing her skills through “trial-and-error with a liberal smattering of profanity to smooth the learning curve.”
In time, her artistic vision would emerge in designs that encompass streamlined and classic to organic and one-of-a-kind to whimsical and fanciful. In the midst of hardwork her company Scrollwork Designs was born.
“I have always been good at making things and I have a lifelong love of stones. I feel an almost transcendent joy when I sit down at the bench; a feeling I am doing something I am meant to do and all will be well. It is the best feeling I have ever felt in my entire life.”
Collins’ imaginative and unique creations of sterling silver feature a variety of textures, gentle curves, and gemstones that include blue calsilica, carnelian agate, and turquoise. Collins’ kinetic and vibrant personality effortlessly finds its way into her work.
In many ways, her jewelry is like taking a journey through mysterious worlds as pieces are inspired by mythical sea sirens; and Swiss sculptor H.R. Giger’s spiny creature from the 1979 film Alien. In fact, her modern take on the Evil Eye Pendant Necklace is inspired by the one-eyed character, Leela, from Futurama.
Her incredibly expansive collections include items as sleek and classic as her Circles Hoop Earrings to items as free form as her Night Sky Pendant Necklace. Though her aesthetic has an amazing Scandinavian quality this is an entirely unintentional byproduct.
“Sometimes it feels like what I do is more 'outsider art' than anything else because I have not been exposed to any art theory or art history and I had never heard of 'art jewelry' before attempting to make jewelry,” she acknowledges.
“I know I love curves most of all, the way light slides down a perfectly arched gleam of silver is beauty to me. I love curves and color and gemstones of all shapes and sizes, and of course I will always love the unexpected, the little surprise you didn’t see coming that takes it over the top.
I love pieces that tell a story, that whisper of long gone days filled with ruthless dragons and maidens fair. Making jewelry lets me express all the things I find beautiful and I firmly believe that beauty is a huge part of what keeps us all alive.”
As her company grows, Collins actively seeks to implement eco-friendly materials into her collections. In fact, her custom jewelry line, Make It Mine, which she launched in November, features recycled metals and fair trade gemstones.
“I am enrolled in an entrepreneurship program at my local community college and I chose ethical sourcing of precious and semi-precious gemstones as the subject of a research paper. I knew full well that after I educated myself I would find it necessary to change my business practices.
Learning about the use of child labor in the cutting and polishing of gemstones ruined their beauty in my mind, and I made a change. I am actively transitioning to using only fair trade gemstones and 100% recycled sterling silver in all my work.
Slowly but surely I am mastering the skills that will get me where I want to go. I am still very much a beginner at the craft and consider myself an emerging artist. The best of Scrollwork Designs is absolutely yet to come!”
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver and Chrome Diopside Siren Song Necklace with Peridot and Freshwater Pearl
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and Smoky Quartz Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling and Fine Silver Night Sky Pendant with Moonstone and Sapphire