My name is Vanessa Rivera and I have been obsessed with jewelry since the fourth grade. It all started when my fourth grade classmates and I started making friendship bracelets, and people would buy mine for $5. At that time I never thought it would be a lifelong obsession, but here I am, still making jewelry and loving it.
I did not decide to turn my hobby into a business until I started graduate school at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where I recently graduated with an entrepreneurial business degree for creatives. Alongside my jewelry business I am also a graphic designer with a degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and I teach art part-time at a private school in Bethesda, MD. I live with the love of my life, my husband, our three kids, and the many pets they bring into our home. We are expecting our fourth child any day now.
My studio/domain is messy. I find inspiration in the chaos and thrive on the beautiful mess that is my one-room art studio at home. I always have multiple projects going on at once. My studio has a small dresser where my creations are filed away once they are finished. There is an order to the disorder – I like to have all my materials visible so I can visually play with color schemes and sizing. I work best at night when everyone is asleep and I have the house to myself. Sometimes I get so sucked into a project I stay up to finish it, even if it means going to bed at 4 am and suffering the next day.
I was born in Lima, Peru but have lived in the Washington DC area for most of my life (minus a short stint in the Middle East to accompany my husband’s job). Before we had kids we invested heavily in travel, which is something that has definitely influenced my work.
I designed and created the custom bridal jewelry set below for a wedding in Colorado, matching the cuff with the circular shape of the earrings. I was obsessed with gold and white when I made those earrings.
I designed the red set for a good friend of mine who needed the perfect jewelry for a speaking engagement. She wanted something bold to go with a simple black dress. She looks fabulous in gold. I pictured twirling flamenco skirts and the result was this:
Much of my creativity and motivation comes from the giggles, happiness, and craziness that my children bring into my life. They are my biggest source of inspiration and motivation. Sometimes they pick out the color schemes for my jewelry, for example, an upcoming peacock collection based on square shapes with greens, blues and golds.
You can see a necklace and earring set by Vanessa in our Small Works exhibition. You can also see more of her beautifully intricate jewelry on her website, or follow @VanessaRockwood on Instagram.
Keep an eye out for Vanessa’s second Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, where she walks us through her jewelry making process.
Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter, Kevin Stuart.