We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Zancanaro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, why did you pursue a creative career?
Growing up in rural Oregon my mom often prompted me to build fairy cages, make candles with my crayons, or draw for entertainment. I would sit in my room and draw for hours and let my imagination run wild by creating new characters and creatures. Both my parents were entrepreneurs and always instilled in me that I could be anything that I wanted to be, so from a very young age I knew I wanted to pursue an artistic career. It took me many years of school to discover just what type of art would be my medium. Evolving from architecture to drawing and painting and picking up photography along the way, I finally discovered my passion for metal in college. I promptly switched majors graduating with a BFA in jewelry and metal arts from the Academy of Art University and haven’t looked back since.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a jewelry designer and metalsmith I focus on creating pieces that are contemporary, unique, and easy to wear. I spend a lot of time down in Mexico and find most of my designs inspired by traditional Aztec patterns and Mexican culture. I love to incorporate lots of different textures in my jewelry like those found in nature, and use various techniques to achieve it. One of my favorite ways to create texture is by using the reticulation process, which involves heating up the silver multiple times. This process brings the fine silver to the surface and after 5 or more times of reheating you start to see this layer of fine silver dance with the torch flame. Because there isn’t much control over what pattern the metal makes, it creates a one of a kind texture that usually looks like peaks and valleys of mountains, bark from a tree, the veins of a dried riverbed, or the way sand cracks when it is dry. I also experiment with other ways to add a variety of natural textures with fusing or using my favorite rusty hammer that gives a great random pattern to the metal as well. One challenge has been from when I was starting out just having the confidence to put out the pieces I’ve created and hope other people will like them. Art is such a personal thing and it’s hard not to get attached to what you are creating. I put my heart and soul into what I love and I love working with metal. It’s hard to hear things when selling at a market that my pieces just aren’t worth what I’m asking for them, which has probably been said to most people who create art. I’ve tried to make lower end jewelry pieces to make those customers happy, but I find the pieces that I don’t enjoy making as much usually do not sell anyway. Over time I have learned just to trust myself more to continue to make more of what I love because those who do appreciate what I do see the love I put into the work. I think the only way I’ve gotten to where I am today is just by putting one foot in front of the other and trying to continue to move forward in a positive direction. It’s not easy to run a business on my own, but I live by the motto that everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to. I don’t focus on or stress about the things I cannot control but focus on how to improve and move forward from there.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend was visiting me for a week I would insist that it be when I am in Todos Santos, Mexico. I would pick them up from the airport and take her to La Lupita for the best tacos in San Jose with fresh margaritas, before setting off for the hour drive north west through the mountains then along the Pacific to Todos Santos. Something about jumping off the plane to immediately experience great food and culture says “bienvenidos a Mexico!” We would spend the week exploring different beaches, going on hikes, and most importantly eating more tacos all over the area. We’d go surfing at Cerritos beach and visit Barracuda Cantina for fresh ceviche and fish tacos for lunch. Dany the owner is an amazing mixologist and always comes up with the most delicious fresh exotic cocktails in the area as well. One day we would hike Punta Lobos, a short 4 mile round trip hike with lovely views of where the fishermen come in on their boats with all the fresh fish supplied to local restaurants, and a little ocean cove that you can jump into which is the perfect spot for a beach picnic. I would take them paddleboarding at Balandra Beach in La Paz, and swim with the whale sharks one day. Wednesday night we would go explore the nightlife of downtown, starting with a lovely dinner at Il Gardino, then cocktails at the local speakeasy the Dirty Rose, followed by a visit to Jardin Alquimia for live cumbia music and dancing all night long. The last day would be an easy day of long walks on the beach watching the surfers with whales breaching in the ocean, and watching the sea turtles being released at sunset.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are many people that I owe my success story to – I am very grateful to have a wonderful support system. My parents for always encouraging me to do what I love, Aliana who is like a sister and has always picked me up off the floor from all the hard moments to tell me “you got this” Alexis, a dear jeweler friend that I look up to as a mentor who always has wonderful advice and words of encouragement about the industry. My friend Malwina who forced me to go to my first farmers market and show my work even though I didn’t think I was ready. Charlene Modena the Director of the Jewelry & Metal Arts Program at the Academy of Art for that meeting and accepting my transfer into the program. Emilie Shapiro’s Book “How To Create Your Own Jewelry Line” which I reference often. Countless other friends who have shared their knowledge in photography, web design, and social media, or have been there to show support by showing up, and of course, my loyal customers who have made my dream of making my living as a jeweler possible.