Jeannie makes jewelry

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Jeannie Wray, Nevada, wears one of her creations and displays another. --Lynn A. Wade/Herald-Tribune

Jeannie Wray stood before the collection, carefully arranging and re-arranging the necklaces, bracelets and earrings in gold, silver and copper, keeping company with similar creations ornamented with beads and gems of all shapes and sizes. Each piece had been individually crafted, so that none other exists that is exactly like it. A necklace of a modern, blocky design sits next to a delicate piece with Victorian trimmings. A contrasting, bold teardrop design shares the table with a sleek, more muted evening design.

"Some are Victorian. Some are Southwestern. Some are trendy," she said. "There's really no method to my madness. There's not just one thing I do. I don't really make groups of things."

Using real gemstones of the highest quality she can procure, Wray designs piece after piece as each takes its form. "Really, I just start," to work on each piece, and the jewelry often evolves into a combination of what seems its own expression of what it will become and Wray's interpretation and eye for design.

A portion of Jeannie Wray's new line of jewelry, in greens, autumn reds and oranges and more, are on display at Bella Rose, on the Square in Nevada. She also creates a wide array of copper jewelry, and makes bracelets and earrings as well. Wray, who moved to Nevada from southern California to be near family, keeps up with trends and says that orange seems to be a popular color this season.--Lynn A. Wade/Herald-Tribune

"Sometimes I have an idea of what it will look like, but then in the middle it changes," she said. A new idea, a twist on what she's already begun takes form, and the design changes to follow a new direction, becoming something different from her new idea.

Other times, the idea remains stable, but the finished product turns out to have a different impression on others than she'd expected.

"Look at this one. I thought this would look really Victorian. But my mother says it's Gothic," she said. The findings around heavy, mottled green beads did indeed look a bit gothic, but were small enough they could be considered Victorian. Such style classifications, like beauty, seem to be in the eye of the beholder.

Sometimes, she admits, she ends up with a piece she doesn't really like. She's tempted to take those pieces apart and start over; but, then again, there's usually someone who finds it suits their tastes and needs perfectly.

"That's one thing I've learned. People have different tastes. There's something for everyone. Things I like the most, someone else might not like at all."

Still, there's one person who helps her to determine what others might see as her best pieces. Her mother, Katie Sutton, offers her honest opinion and her support to Wray's efforts.

Seemingly an artist first and a jewelry maker second, Wray has used her talent as an artist as a mosaic artist in southern California and has explored other media as well; but it was her mother who led her to move to Nevada and to delve deeply into creating her unique jewelry.

Wray said it was hard to find just the right Christmas present for her mother, so she began making the jewelry as Christmas presents. "I figure, if I can't please her, I can't please anyone else. She loved it," Wray said.

Even Sutton's tastes vary from Wray's own taste, though. "I'm a silver girl," Sutton said, but Wray countered, "I'm a copper girl." Wray's own favorites are made of copper, particularly hammered copper pieces. But she admits she does like and often wears many of her own designs -- copper or not.

The mother and daughter are obviously close, so much so that when Sutton moved to Nevada, Wray decided to pack up her dogs and cat in her Jeep and came to Nevada as well. An animal lover to the core, she donates a portion of income from her Web site sales to Vernon County People For Pets.

Available locally exclusively at Bella Rose, on the Square in Nevada, Wray's collection offers an ever-changing array of unique jewelry at prices ranging from $12 to $98.

She also sells the jewelry through private parties, which she'll gladly present in the home of the hostess.