We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Strong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have found from a young age that using my creativity daily has helped me to find joy in life and look forward to what lies ahead. I have experimented in several occupations and did not find the same fulfillment that I receive from using my artistic expression as a career. I admit there is an innate stubbornness deep inside myself that has prevented me from pursuing, what many have told me would be, a more realistic or sustainable career. Throughout my life I have fought an internal battle that always brings me back to sticking true to my heart and not giving up on being an artist, while knowingly understanding that the gamble I have chosen may not always show consistent results and that it is the risk I’ve signed up for.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Here in Tucson, Arizona, I create hand fabricated pieces of jewelry out of sterling silver and locally sourced turquoise stones. My jewelry is all made by hand using simple and minimal tools on a tiny work bench in my laundry room. I have very little expensive tools or fancy machinery but am still able achieve the style I’m intending with just a little more time and handiwork. Between tending to my 6 and 10 year old boys, for all of the typical mothering activities, my days often consist of long hours engulfed at my work bench creating jewelry, followed by extensive photography sessions of each piece and then hours of tedious webpage and business management dealings. It is not always what I prefer to do with my days and a lot of motivation is required for self-employment, but I could not be anyone but me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Arizona is a great place to be an artist and to live! Tucson has some of the best restaurants known around the world including Tumerico and Time Market! I enjoy taking my friends hiking and camping all over Tucson and up to the snow in Flagstaff, Arizona!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I often wonder if I would be where I am today had it not been for two very influential metalsmith’s open hearts and guidance. I was blessed to have met Erika Rose Mark with Lumen Rose Jewelry in 2016. She suggested I take a college course in metalsmithing and was deeply encouraging of me in a way that lead me to feel a sense of strength and belief in myself as an artist. Secondly, I have never connected more with a teacher or felt more understood as an artist than I did with Maureen Brusa Zappellini. The foundation she gave me in metalsmithing is irreplaceable and I often wonder if I would have stuck with the trade, had I not had such a great teacher to follow.
Photography by Rachel Strong