My name is Julianne Rae Plewes and, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve loved jewelry. It started when I was little, just stringing seed beads together on fishing line in my back yard. As I grew older the interest always stuck with me, whether it was knotting friendship bracelets at camp or making beads out of clay in art class, my brain was always seeing materials and colours as tools to create jewelry.
When I was growing up in small town Canada my options for beading supplies were pretty limited, so when I found there was a beading store just one town over I was thrilled. I spent many a happy afternoon sifting through drawers and trays full of wonderful new things I couldn’t wait to take home and create.
For many years I continued with jewelry as a hobby, making pieces here and there, mostly for myself and a few for friends. It was when I moved to Toronto to go to Ryerson University that I met a friend who transformed the way I thought about jewelry. She was (and still is) one of those people whose style is one-of-a-kind, a true reflection of their unique spirit and love of great fashion and design. She inspired me to think of my jewelry designs in new, outside the box ways. To this day she is still my favorite muse and one of my biggest supporters.
Toward the end of my second year in University I began looking for a summer position in Interior Design (my field of study) to get a head start on my mandatory co-op the next summer. I sent out about a billion resumes and was giving up all hope of finding any job at all when I spotted a posting for a sales position at a local Toronto bead store. I called their number right away and sped down to drop off my resume and have an interview. I crossed my fingers and paced around my apartment for several days until they called and offered me the coveted position. Working in the bead store I had unlimited access to beading supplies, where I learned so much about all the products available and I also received my only formal training in beading technique so that I could teach classes.
You may think it a little odd that I was studying Interior Design when I had such a strong passion for jewelry, yes I learned all about interiors and plans and technique, but really what Ryerson’s program did for me was foster my designer spirit as a whole and stretch my notion of what was possible in all forms of design. One of the best parts about the program was having access to a fully loaded shop with all sorts of different machines and new materials. This enabled me to experiment and explore on my free time and push into new areas of jewelry design. This is where my love for wooden jewelry was formed, and so I have to acknowledge the shop guys who allowed me to pursue my passion and put up with my incessant questions and constant presence, thanks for everything guys.
When I did finally do my co-op after third year, I ended up working for an Architectural model making firm after a friend’s insightful suggestion. It was obviously a bit of a stretch from interior design, and I had to fight to be allowed to do it, but the struggle was definitely worth it. It ended up being an amazing position that has become a true passion and I'm still at the same firm to this day. Working in this field introduced me to new materials yet again, and even more new techniques for design and fabrication. Working there I've learned how to use a laser cutter which opened up endless design possibilities and is a major part of how I fabricate many of my designs today.
Over the years my ideas, techniques, and materials have changed and evolved, but the one thing that has always been a constant is my love and passion for designing and creating jewelry. The inspirations for my designs come from a million places; colours I see, the texture of a chair, a girl walking down the street. Each experience I have fills my mind and my sketchbook with new ideas waiting to be explored. I look forward to each day, taking in everything around me in hopes of creating beautiful pieces that people will fall in love with and enjoy.