As a kid, Jessica Papke slept in a wonderland of handmade decorations. Paper spirals, snowflakes and cut-outs from calendars, all festooned with sequins, glitter and other embellishments, filled her childhood bedroom.
So it’s no surprise that Papke’s flair for sparkling design eventually translated to a career as a jewelry maker. The Raleigh-based designer has traded paper snowflakes and glitter for semi-precious stones and metals to create her Rosy Revolver jewelry line.
Her career as a jewelry designer started early.
“I discovered beading as a hobby while still in high school,” she says. “By the time college came, stringing and wire-wrapping weren’t enough anymore. I wanted to play with hammers and a torch.”
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She got that chance as a student in N.C. State’s College of Design.
“It was an amazing education that has helped me to better ideate and be intentional with my designs, as well as think on my feet when things don’t work out the way I expect they will,” she says. “In the realm of metal, I’m mostly self-taught beyond a few beginner classes. For me, it was about learning the basics, then experimenting. I have to play ... or the work is no good. It lacks soul.”
After college, she created her Rosy Revolver line, which features pieces with a feminine Western aesthetic made with colorful stones and metal. Papke draws inspiration for the line from her travels.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve refined my taste for embellishment and prefer the textural feel from cultures that focus heavily on adornment of either the body or physical spaces,” she explains. “Mexican art, Indian henna, Moroccan architecture, Turkish lamps ... these all inspire me. I’ve traveled frequently to the Southwest while teaching jewelry workshops and love the colorful aesthetic and symbolism there.”
She also draws from her own life when designing pieces.
“I also try to put some personal meaning in my pieces,” she says. “Some part of my life, some experience, ends up in each design. I’m hugely sentimental; I can’t create that work while leaving that part of me aside.”
Papke uses colorful and asymmetrically shaped stones in her pieces, including turquoise, sugilite, dendritic opal and druzy agate.
“I’m kind of a stone snob,” she says. “I used to go for color alone, but now I look more for interest and representation. Is there a druzy pocket? Are there dendrites in that opal? There must be personality and uniquity there. I’m always amazed by the diversity of the material that comes from the earth.”
For now, Papke’s jewelry is available on her website, rosyrevolver.com. While she’d love to expand to a larger audience via a retailer such as Anthropologie, she admits she prefers keeping the operation small to allow for creative freedom.
“I love the one-of-a-kind and over-the-top designs that can’t be mass-produced, and I can’t imagine I’d ever leave that arena of my business,” she says. “It’s been an incredible journey thus far; I’m blessed to be traveling this path, and my arms are wide open, wherever it may lead me.”
Sip and Shop
Peachy Keen boutique will give post-holiday shoppers a little something to fuel their after-Christmas sale jaunts during the Sip, Shop and Sale event Friday and Saturday. The store will serve food and drinks during the two-day event, which includes a buy one-get one half-off sale. Peachy Keen is at 250 Grande Heights Drive, Cary; 919-678-0092.
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