Hudson River Exchange interviews the maker Stephanie Hiemel of Estefi Jewelry currently showcased at the Handmade Pop Up Shop at 514 Warren Street from May 17th to June 16th.
HRE: What’s your creative process? What’s your favorite part? How do you maintain your creative stamina? What do you do when you’re stuck?
STEPHANIE: When I want to create a new design I will either begin with a gemstone or an idea or draw until I’m happy with it. Then once I start creating the 3d forms the concept usually changes at least once to accommodate unforeseen issues. Sometimes the end result is nothing like my original plan! My favorite part of jewelry making is working on one-of-a-kind pieces because challenges always arise and it ends up being like a puzzle to figure out how all of the parts will go together.
I’m always inspired by the gemstones I have collected over the years. I am a gemologist as well as a jeweler so I am fascinated by how the stones form within the earth in such different ways. I have hundreds of gems in display cases, so when I feel stuck I just look through my collection until something sparks an idea.
HRE: What materials do you work with? How did you start working with these materials and why do you enjoy working with these materials?
STEPHANIE: I work with only recycled sterling silver and gold and natural gemstones. These days it’s so easy to find inexpensive jewelry made with synthetic gemstones and man-made items in cheap metal that just doesn’t last. It’s important for me to use high quality materials to create lasting works of art, even though it ends up being more expensive. I’m a third generation jeweler, so I really appreciate using traditional materials and techniques to create my jewelry.
HRE: We believe creativity loves company because there’s so much we can share and learn from each other. What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about creative practice, business, or in life?
STEPHANIE: The best advice I have received is to just keep moving. Some days half the battle is just getting up and going forward. Whether it be to start a new project, to go to the gym or any other struggle in life you have to just get up and go. Then the rest falls into place.
HRE: What is a goal that you set for your business this year?
STEPHANIE: This year I bought some new tools so I can begin to learn more advanced stone setting techniques and hand engraving. When I was in jewelry school I had some introduction to these skills, but I haven’t revisited them in a few years. It’s important to me to always keep learning new skills to improve my work and designs.
HRE: Can you share a challenge and a benefit about being a creative in the Hudson Valley?
STEPHANIE: A huge benefit to being a creative in the Hudson Valley is that there are so many other people creating things nearby. It’s inspiring to see all the different talents that people have and the different ways that people use the same materials to create such variety.
A challenge is that there isn’t always space to showcase everyones talents like there may be in a larger city.
— Delicate and feminine jewelry with a modern twist carefully crafted from recycled metals and natural gemstones. Born in Vigo, Spain, Estefi Jewelry is now handcrafted in Troy, NY.