What makes a farmer trade her pitchfork for a soldering torch? One word: passion. That’s what fuels everything minimalist jewelry artist Jessie Morrow does. And it shows in her work.
But jewelry wasn’t the original plan. An advocate for sustainable agriculture, Jessie moved to Orcas Island in 2006 to work at the Olga Farm. Somewhere between the carrots and the peas, she started envisioning earrings and necklaces.
Initially, she fashioned pieces from hardware parts, wearing them during her island comings and goings. Friends, family, and fellow islanders took notice. “People wanted what I was making, and eventually the business just grew from there,” Jessie told me.
For several years she sold her work at the Orcas Farmers Market and craft fairs along the West Coast. Stores from Brooklyn to Seattle began carrying her collections. But in November of 2017, Jessie took her jewelry business to a whole new level, opening a shop in Orcas Island’s Eastsound.
Her quaint shop, Material Wit, is the real-life embodiment of Jessie’s commitment to beauty, quality, and sustainability. In addition to the shop’s showroom that features her pieces, Jessie carries a carefully curated collection of art and homewares that share her same values.
“Primarily the items are from West Coast artists, but the concept is really about well-made items, created with environmental and social ethics,” she explained. For instance, she carries beautiful bristle brushes from Germany. “They’re not locally produced, but they’re environmentally-friendly and incredibly well-made, which is what we’re all about.”
While Jessie’s main studio is at home, her shop also has a small workspace where you can sometimes see her working. Generally, she creates one major collection a year. But with her second child on the way, she’s put new work on hold.
“Brass is an affordable and durable metal, but some of the production process just isn’t good for the baby,” she explained. The process starts with raw brass that’s then cut, filed, soldered, cleaned, formed, and polished before it ever hits the showroom floor.
But what’s amazing about Jessie’s pieces is how delicate the metal becomes. They are an eye-catching combination of personalities — like a dance between an urban tomboy and a country flower garden. In essence, they are the embodiment of Jessie. They echo her kind wholesomeness and commitment to enhancing the beauty of others.
“I believe jewelry is one of two things. It’s either a way to enhance beauty or it’s a talisman. That’s one of the reasons I really love making earrings. I see someone’s face and a way to complement the beauty that’s already there,” Jessie said.
Each collection is inspired by something different. “It really changes every time,” Jessie said. “I’m often inspired by nature. And obviously it’s beautiful around here, so you see a lot of that in my recent collections that have to do with the ocean and travel.”
Her work is crafted from silver and high polish brass. The brass, in particular, offers a uniquely affordable and stunning finished product. “The brass I use is a red brass, which gives it a warmer tone that looks a lot like gold. It actually has a color match to 14 karat gold when it’s polished,” she explained. Which means, her pieces are as fitting in the countryside as they are on a night about town.
Though Jessie is a self-proclaimed “workaholic,” she still loves to travel with her husband Justin Blevins and their daughter Zoe. And during her free time, she can often be found digging in the dirt, growing much of her family’s fruits and veggies.
NEW RELEASE FROM JESSIE MORROW
Since this article was originally published in explore:NW, Jessie released a new Crimp Collection. The playful statement pieces were inspired by the changing of the seasons. They are lightweight and designed to make the most of those late summer days and wandering crisp autumn afternoons.
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