Marie Scarpa applies textile making techniques to create unique woven jewelry. Each piece is a tiny tapestry embellished with brightly colored gemstones. This interesting combination give Marie Scarpas jewelry a sense of distinction.
In today’s interview, we seek to learn more about Marie and her artistic work.
How did you embark in the journey as a jewelry designer?
I began taking jewelry courses in high school where I learned the basic skills of sawing, filing, soldering, polishing, casting and forging. From there I pursued a college degree, receiving a BFA in Metalsmithing from Syracuse University.
Your work incorporated many of the textile weaving techniques, what got you interested in the process?
At an early age my mother taught me to knit, crochet, sew and embroider. In college I dabbled in a few weaving techniques. I still vividly remember being a junior in college and in the same week (unbeknownst to each other and from different departments, I don’t even think they were acquainted) my metalsmithing professor told me to try weaving metal and my weaving professor suggested I incorporate metal into my weaving. The seed was planted and although I did not explore it in depth at that time, I always knew it was a concept I would return to and delve into more seriously in the future.
You have received a number of awards, how did they change you life?
Being recognized and honored by your peers is so gratifying. For me it was very validating and spurred on my creativity. It has helped me push the envelope creatively and technically. I have been very fortunate to receive many awards and I always encourage other designers to participate in competitions. Artists have nothing to lose and everything to gain but it’s like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play!
How do you approach the design process from beginning to end?
It’s funny, I don’t have just one approach. Sometimes I have a design in my mind’s eye and then I search for the materials/gemstones to create it. Other times I stumble upon a magnificent gemstone or pearl and it instantly gives birth to a design. I don’t ever sit down and say, OK, time to design something new. Many of my ideas come to me when my mind is engaged in something very non-creative. (like driving!)
Who are your mentors and how have they guided you in your journey as a jewelry artist?
Just after I graduated college in 1982 I relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked for several designers and companies and as I look back on those places, each one taught me one or more valuable skills that were ultimately integral to me running a successful business on my own. Glenda Queen who owns Union Street Goldsmith in San Francisco was the first person to take a leap of faith, hire me and teach me about life in the “real jewelry world” which was very different from my academic experience in college.
I worked for her for 6 1/2 years and then slowly began pursuing my own design work, taking on commissions, working as a contract laborer for small wholesale manufacturers, selling at wholesale and retail trade shows, etc. It wasn’t until 2000 that I actually felt ready to go it on my own with my woven jewelry. Every place I worked for is a valuable piece of the puzzle that comprises Marie Scarpa Designs.
Are you inspired by the work of any particular artist/s and if so, who?
This question reminds me of The Academy Awards, there are so many amazing artists I admire that before I got through the list the music would be playing indicating I should shut up and get off the stage and of course I would forget someone and feel badly about it later. Falcher Fusager is an amazing enamel artist whom I worked for and learned so much from.