Meet the Artist SPOTLIGHT: Rachel Gunnard
Since Pinch’s founding in 1979, we’ve been staunch supporters of independent artisans. We are constantly inspired by artists all over the country (and those close to home) who pursue their creative visions and help enhance the world with their work. Our shop is an homage to the beautiful and the odd, and we are endlessly grateful to curate a space so filled with charming, handcrafted goods.
To show our gratitude for the people who help us make that possible, we’ve launched a SPOTLIGHT series. We'll be taking you behind the scenes of our beloved artists' studios, interviewing them about their processes and inspirations—bringing you right into the brilliant center of their creativity!
This month, we talk to Rachel Gunnard, the brilliant force behind Rachel Gunnard jewelry. Working out of her studio in Greenfield, Rachel makes modern, metal- worked jewelry.
Rachel will be in the shop on Friday, February 8, from 5-8pm, for a trunk show during Northampton's Arts Night Out. You can always find a selection of her pieces in the shop!
What was your path to jewelry-making?
I took an introduction to jewelry making class while at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in the early 2000s. It was a good way to satisfy my interest in making actual things while studying architecture. I knew I'd have my own jewelry making bench at some point, I assumed as a hobby during my spare time working as an architect... instead, I now make jewelry full time.
What’s a typical day in your studio like?
Emails first, then procrastination, then production. Development of new ideas happens either in the coffee shop with a sketchbook or playing around in the scrap pile at the end of the day.
We love the unique array of designs we see in your work—do you have a favorite?
My favorite work is the bold, 'modern form' stuff. Those pieces happened very quickly and came together in a very cohesive way.
How often do you come up with new ideas/designs? What’s that process like?
When I'm working on new designs, I take one of two approaches- creating a new 'family' of forms that could translate across the collection as earrings, pendants, rings, etc., or 'filling in' the existing collection with new pieces that could only appear with hindsight and customer feedback. Sometimes a new piece will be the result of looking at a collector and items they've purchased and asking myself "what is she missing?". If she likes super simple everyday stud earrings, I will try to make something more along the lines of a statement earring, but that she would still be comfortable wearing. The actual design process is never what I think, even several years into it. The sketches almost never come to fruition, but they are an important part of the process. I try to make a handful of new pieces four times a year.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by other designers, usually the ones doing work very unlike my own in very different mediums. Those with the courage of their convictions! Right now I like looking at the work of Jim Cotter (jewelry and sculpture), Julian Watts (woodwork and sculpture), and Lee Hale (jewelry and sculpture).
What’s your favorite aspect of designing and creating jewelry?
It is very satisfying when a woman tries on a piece of my jewelry and then shares with me something very personal about herself as if the jewelry is a magic truth serum that opens a very particular line of communication. I think that line opens when we share this small object that is first made in my hand, then worn on her body. It is a very affecting transaction.
It's pretty cool to make something that someone will wear every day, that they will make part of their physical person. The only thing I don't like about the process is photographing new pieces. It is very difficult to photograph silver well and I don't think I've learned from any of my mistakes.
Are there any motifs or designs that you want to do in the future?
In the future I'd like to do some collections inspired by the sea, maybe carved in wax and cast. Maybe start working with wood? And I'd like to be making more one of a kind pieces.
Stop by the Northampton shop to view Rachel's work!