Meet The Maker: Handmade Jewelry from Baleigh Acebo
Each of the makers on my HM100 list brings a unique perspective to their chosen genre. You’ll notice that the amount of jewelry makers is pretty long and for good reasons: there are a ton of incredibly talented jewelry designers out there. It’s a category that has continued to inspire me and our featured artist, Baleigh Acebo, is no exception. Her Acebo Jewelry collection displays her unique blend of modern style and refinement.
I see hints of industrial design, such as with her Sieve necklace, and straightforward elegance, as seen with her dazzling Tourmaline Filament earrings. Those things are just beyond. Get to know this talented maker in our exclusive interview and then hop over to Acebo Jewelry and add a few pieces to your handmade collection.
What inspired you to begin your collection?
It’s funny-when I went back to school to study jewelry making 5 years ago, I had no intentions of my own collection. The thought of working as a bench jeweler for other designers was really appealing to me–being able to do what I loved, yet having the freedom that’s not always synonymous with owning your own business. However, in my spare time, I was making custom engagement rings from time to time, and from that work and routine a collection formed very organically. A pair of minimalist earrings I made for my mother led to a ring design, and then a necklace–and before I knew it there was a collection–a whole point of view, and the fulfillment that emanated from the process made me realize that doing anything else wouldn’t make me happy.
Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
Usually, one design will be the seed to flesh out multiple similar ideas. When a design comes to life that I’m over the moon about, I start to ask why. Why does this concept speak to me? What about it makes me want to explore this design concept. Sometimes it’s as simple as it being visually appealing to my minimalist eye, or it’s the contrast of something with clean lines, hard geometry, or an industrial feel against the fluid human body. I want people to feel strong in what I make, and when I put on a piece i’ve made that makes me feel strong, that means i’m on the right track.
How do you maintain your creative drive?
Ha, I am just realizing I’ve never had a creative drive issue–which can be exhausting! My love of making jewelry– and making anything really–stems from my curiousity about how things are made and how they work. As a kid I used to take my dad’s radios apart; I would unravel woven or beaded jewelry so I could see how it was made, so I could put it back together. So I am constantly seeing new methods that peak my curiosity, that must immediately be broken down into a teachable moment which will then creatively enhance my work and increase the possibilities.
My parents were both teachers and I think my admiration for them and what they did inextricably fuels my curiosity, my love of learning and creating. If I could afford to, I’d go to school forever, and so in a way my passion for creating modern, well crafted jewelry allows me to feed my other passions in a really symbiotic way.
What materials do you love to use?
I am really into rose gold right now. I know a lot of people think rose gold is a temporary trend, but I think it’s here to stay. I love working with it because the tone is a great color alternative to yellow. High karat yellow gold looks really harsh against my skin because of the yellow undertones, whereas I love wearing rose gold because it’s softer in its warmth. It looks beautiful against darker skin tones too, so I think it’s a really versatile gold–although entirely tough to work with!
Every product has a story. Is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
Rather than a story behind a product, I do have a story behind my aesthetic. My taste in design and jewelry had a major shift in my early 20’s. A BFA in creative writing, coupled with curiosity about my Spanish heritage led me to live and teach in Spain after college.
I lived in Andalucia where Islamic and Catholic culture and design were built alongside and literally on top of one another. I was absolutely mesmerized by Islamic architecture–the seemingly simple geometric patterns that would culminate in these visually complicated mosaics. The busy patterns were beautiful, but what caught my eye how those clean lines and geometric forms were impressive in their simplest uses. From there I really started to fall in love with design which incorporated those same lines and shapes in their simplest forms, and so I found myself drawn to modern and industrial design.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
I met Jean-Noel Soni of Top Notch Faceting years ago on his first visits to Boston and have ached to work with one of his stones. Besides being a standup guy, his work is exquisite and the geometry of his gem cutting speaks to my personal aesthetic. All I need now is the right engagement ring client, who wants a slightly unconventional, awesomely minimalist, bold ring.
What are some of the challenges that you face as a maker?
My two biggest demons are definitely burnout and imposter syndrome. With a home studio I have a hard time stepping away from the bench. I’ve gotten better at forcing myself to relax but usually it just ends up with me on the couch, attempting to multitasking with my computer and a movie on in the background. Ugh, imposter syndrome–I feel like every artist struggles with this at different points, particularly women.
When I feel myself start to get unconstructively critical over a piece, concept or endeavor, I force myself to step away from the bench. In the mindset of, “is this good enough, am I good enough,” you can totally paralyze your work and get stuck in a rut that could ruin a whole concept. My boyfriend is an artist too, so he gets that struggle and is a great support. He is really amazing about making me see my achievements as the result of all my hard work–not the product of luck or timing, that my brain sometimes defaults to.
How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
I use social media to show my maker process. My interest in jewelry was born out of my innate curiosity in how things work when I was young and I think showing my process feeds that part of me, and that part of consumers that love to see each step from the artists they support.
Where do you see your shop/project going?
Like any artist, I would be lucky to have my work financially support the further pursuit of that work. Someday I hope I can open my own shop to show my work, be a center for art within a community and highlight other artists’ work–that’s the dream.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a new line right now! I’ve lined up some bigger, multiple day events for the spring and summer, so it’s the perfect time for a new line. I put my ideas on paper after the holiday season and am basically ready to dive in. The new line is another exploration of industrial forms and textures that stemmed from working with the industrial mesh.