“Sarah Morton-Erasmus grew up mesmerized by the sound of a cross peen hammer. By the age of twelve she was busy in her father’s studio soldering and sawing his copper scraps into jewelry and sculpture of her own design. Creating came naturally to her. In 1999, Sarah received a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Oregon in Metalsmithing. She continued her education by apprenticing with both goldsmiths and sculptors, balancing her skills with both small and large-scale works. Morton-Erasmus Jewelry started to take shape in 2003, when she moved from New York to the Columbia River Gorge where she continues to create her jewelry and metal artwork”. We had the privilege of meeting Sarah almost ten years ago. She is such a creative beautiful person with an extraordinary amount of talent.
When did you know you wanted to be a jewelry designer and how did you get your start?
I was basically failing out of college, I had been a straight A student in high school, and got to college thinking I wanted to go into international affairs and language. My Dad sat me down and instead of giving me the “you have to work harder, amount to something” speech; he said I needed to take an art class. He knew I was an artist at heart, so I wrestled my way into a totally full beginning metals class and was instantly in love.
How was it growing up with a talented father/copper smith?
I knew it was special, I didn’t know anyone else in school who had parents like mine. Especially because we got to travel all the time. Once or twice a month we’d pack up and be in a new place like San Francisco or Tempe, Az doing a craft fair. I went to school in a really rural area of Oregon though; so many kids had never even been to a city before high school. So I knew early on that the world was huge, with tons of possibilities.
My Dad was always working, not only because he was self-employed but also because he loved what he did, and was happiest in his studio. I have so many fond memories of my family all together, discovering new things, and just laughing and having fun, when the all the work was done. I feel really proud to follow in his foot steps, this February I’ll be exhibiting at The Buyers Market of American Craft, I’m one of like 3 that are second generation exhibitors.
What do you love most about designing and creating your own Jewelry?
I just love working with metal, I love that with some time and skill one can take something from the ground, manipulate it and turn it into something beautiful, or use it to convey a message that words can’t because it has this longevity. To adorn ourselves with a piece of jewelry can tell the world so much about ourselves, our ornaments can tell a story about important people in our life, experiences, travels and just how we see ourselves. And then these stories can be handed down to friends and family. I love that I make keepsakes and mementos.
What would you classify your style of work as?
This is a tough one, I’m somewhere between fine jewelry and trend jewelry. I’m not just assembling parts some factory made, every piece starts and ends in my studio with my hands. The 18k gold I use to make all my connections brings my silver jewelry closer to fine jewelry price point, but I love fashion and love to be part of the forward motion of trends. I like to think of myself as a fashion designer who hammers instead of sews.
Do you have a piece your most proud of?
Yes, I make these shields that are really like an individuals crest something that would absolutely represent that person for longevity. It usually has an initial as the center piece but sometimes a symbol, then, I add different things like the person’s date of birth, their age when it was made, zip codes, words, quotes, etc. Once I even put the longitude and latitude of their favorite place on earth, so they’d always be able to find their way back.
What do you draw from for inspiration when designing a new piece?
A lot of the time its a technique, method, or connection in my studio that sparks something new, but I love to look Pinterest and runway shows for fashion, but mainly I look at a lot of vintage jewelry and museum pieces. That’s where my love of jewelry began.
How do you source your materials and select your stones?
I go to the big gem show in Tucson occasionally, but my focus has always been production, not just one of a kind, so once I find a vendor I like I stick with them. I lived in New York when I first started my line in 2003, my fellow jewelry friends hooked me up with most of my sources there and I still use all of them.
What is the most challenging part about running your own business?
That you have to wear so many hats!!! I wish all the time that I could just design and produce, and not have to sell it, market it, photograph it, price it, ship it, etc. I have a love/hate relationship with Excel.
Any tips or advice for aspiring designers like yourself?
Take lots and lots of business classes, never give up your dream, and take chances!!
*Check out the M.E. Jewelry website, there are many more designs and contact info as well.
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