Meet and Greet With a Craftswoman

OC |

mC:t    2015.07.29



The marketplace has seen a massive influx of DIY makers of all shapes and sizes recently and it seems to be popping up all over the place:  Handcrafted products are displayed in farmers markets,Instagram is overflowing with photos of peoples proudest projects, Twitter and Facebook can tell you where to go to buy the latest homemade products, and Pinterest is filled with tutorials, linking you to places that can teach you anything from making your own colorful pom poms to making your own jewellery. It seems that customers are suddenly beginning to value the concept of handcrafted products, whether it’s made professionally by a crafts person or if it’s a fun little project that they take on with their friends on a Saturday. I  often times  find myself using my down time as an excuse to browse through the many DIY tutorials that pinterest has to offer and can find such a variety of activities, needless to say, I’M INSPIRED! I mean, you’re telling me I can make a cake that looks like a minonor my own homemade Flubber? Just like that?! It’s crazy, and yet, it’s possible and it’s a reality that even I, a business student with a minimal artistic background, can participate in and still be successful.


This got me thinking though, what about the many skilled crafts people out there who chose a career path specializing in their craft? With the help of my fellow blogger, JB, I was able to get in touch with Jennea Frischke of Jennea Frischke Jewelry to ask her a few questions. Enjoy!




1) OC: What did you want to be as a child growing up? Did you always have an interest in metal working?

JF: Well when I was growing up I wanted to be an actress for the longest time, but I did a lot of craft based activities when I was a child. Where I grew up, there was an event much like track and field but for crafts. My mom always encouraged me to do a lot of stuff so I’d make popcorn necklaces, and I always was making jewellery and wearable pieces when I was a kid. When I was thirteen, my first business was called “forget me knots”. So I haven’t always had an interest in metal working per-say but I’ve always liked creating things and it’s always been on the wearable side.


2) OC: What does the path of becoming a skilled crafts person entail?

JF: There are different paths that you can take for sure, but I started at Red Deer College.  I went into the visual arts program there for two years and then after that I transferred to the Alberta College of Art and Design into the Jewelry and Metals program.  So I ended up taking 5 years in total of art school, heavily focused in the jewelry and metals aspect. Also, I did a lot of fiber arts when I was there as well, and really enjoyed weaving. I still do dabble with that type of work as more of a hobby on the side now, but the jewellery work is more what I put out in the open for people to see.


3) OC: Why do you think craft matters today?

JF: I think knowing where your items are coming from is very important. It’s fascinating to me how the whole shop local movement has become so prominent because it’s always been important to me.  This is one of the reasons why I always liked making items, especially for myself or family to wear, it’s just really good to know where your products are coming from and support your local economy.


4) OC: Do you feel that the current influx of DIY makers entering into the market has affected you, your business or your trade?

JF: Definitely, I’d say there are a lot more makers out there that call themselves different things too, so everyone might be under the same umbrella but people will have different skill levels , so that effects me from that aspect. That’s why it’s really important to educate people and teach people how you make your product. There has also been such an influx of markets and avenues where people can buy work and people are more aware and wanting those products.  It’s pretty much all been positive. I also definitely think that there’s enough for everyone, and I’ve been really pushing this idea lately of comrades and not competition. I feel a lot of the makers in the community are all kind of helping each other out, and that’s really nice too.


5) OC: What is the process like when it comes to creating your products?

JF: I use a lot of different traditional metalsmithing techniques in my work so it really depends on what piece I’m making. For example, one of my peak rings, which are just a beautiful simple wire band with a mountain peak on it. I will start out with the raw material (pretty much all my silver and my gold I source from a Canadian supplier), so all my metal is smelted and refined in Canada.  That was very important to me in keeping my product local. For my peak rings, I start with this raw material which is a square wire, then I bend the wire, cut it, sand it and solder it using my jewelry torch and silver solder, and then after that I shape it on a mandrel using a hammer, then I add the hammer texture in the ring then I would sand/polish it and then put it into my tumbler overnight for several hours so the work hardens the material. So even with just one simple little piece there’s still a lot of steps, materials and tools that go into it.


photo 5


6) OC: Do you always get involved in every step of the process (i.e., from idea to creation to selling?) or do you work with others or a hybrid of the two?

JF:  I’m currently just working all on my own, from creating the item to selling it. I’m just recently starting to get help at markets where friends will come and help me a little bit. I’m thinking about trying to source some work out down the road just so I can grow because I am very happy with what I have going on right now, but I would still like to grow and there is only one of me.


7) OC: What advice would you give an aspiring crafts person who is either starting out their career or considering entering into it?

JF: Don’t get intimated by others and don’t compare yourself to other people. Do what you love! I think as long as you’re doing what you love and you are focused on what you are doing it will work out. When you start comparing yourself to everyone else that can get overwhelming, especially with all the social media realms these days, it’s even easier now to do that, and I think it’s so important not to. I also think, in a lot of arts schools, you’re not taught the business side of things, so I think it’s very important to give yourself some kind of business education, whether that’s taking a business course, or throwing yourself in the thick of doing a lot of markets, or pairing yourself with another artist in a mentorship opportunity.


8) OC: How has your business changed or grown since you first started out?

JF: In the last three years it’s been growing and it’s really nice to see. It’s awesome to see people wearing your jewelry out and about. I just love seeing people wearing my jewelry, if I see a customer wearing my jewelry I will give them a couple dollars off. I like to encourage it! I was recently out in Calgary for supper and someone served me wearing my jewelry and it’s just been so nice, just seeing that growth and knowing that people are starting to recognize my brand makes my heart happy.


9) OC: What do you love/dislike about the business you’re in?

JF: I guess I love and hate that I feel like I’m constantly working. This goes back to trying to get more help, trying to figure out what things you need to be doing and what things you can have someone else help you with. I am a bit of a workaholic, I think.  I think a lot of artists are in certain ways. So I have a love hate with that, it’s a struggle of trying to make sure I’m not neglecting relationships and making sure I have healthy friendships and know your loved ones don’t feel like you’re not around. So I guess that’s probably one of the things that I do love and hate about it.


10) OC: Do you find the career you’ve chosen is the type of career where you are constantly learning? If so, where do you find your inspirations

JF: Definitely, I learn every day, especially when I have studio days. I find that I’ll often let myself play for a little bit and make mistakes and I learn a lot from them. I often come up with ideas and designs from these times, so I think it’s just really important to let myself play.


11) OC: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

JF: Good question, I’ve been trying to figure that out a little bit lately and put better goals down for myself. I think in 5-10 years I still want to do some markets but I think in 5 years I’ll probably only be doing 3 or 4 markets a year, because I really like meeting my customers and being able to have that relationship with people. It’s really nice to get to meet your customer base but I’d also like to be in more boutiques and doing more of a commission and maybe [looking into more of the] wedding side of [jewelry making]. I’ve been working on several wedding sets right now, I like creating these important rings,  so I think 5-10 years down the road I will be working more on the wedding side of jewelry and having a better work life balance. *laughs* that’s where I see myself!



Doesn’t she seem just delightful? It appears that DIY has not been a hindrance at all to the crafts world but has in fact highlighted its importance and its presence in the marketplace. What do you say my fellow DIY makers and crafts people? What is your opinion on markets today and having this world of handmade products just at our fingertips? Is there a place for it? Is it important? We at MakeCalgaryTalk would LOVE to hear your opinions!


If you are interested in checking out more of Jennea’s work, visit her website or go see her in person at the markets, as I’m sure she would love to meet all of you too!  Here’s  quick peak at some of her work:


Photo 2







Previous: K.I.S.S.



[1] Photos for DIY projects from Pinterest

[2] From Jennea Frischke’s Facebook platform

[3] Photo taken by Jennea Frischke

[4] Photo taken by Jennea Frischke

[5]  Photo taken by Jennea Frischke

makeCalgary:talk provokes conversation among Calgarians about the design of our city. Catch up with us on Twitter (@makecalgarytalk), Instagram (makecalgarytalk), or Facebook.