The Garfield Galleria is home to many talented artists, including three fashion-forward designers. I sat down with a T-shirt creator, jewelry maker and a gown seamstress and got an up-close look at their operations.
Marisabel Estrada loves color and people, both of which are the basis for her handmade jewelry collection, Marisabel’s Studio Gallery and Boutique. Estrada, 47, uses priceless stones and techniques to make sure each piece she creates is exceptional and unique to its owner.
Downtown Phoenix Journal: When did you first begin making jewelry?
Marisabel Estrada: I was around 14 years old when I lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My grandma was getting rid of some jewelry and I asked her if I could have it, and she let me. So I pulled apart all the necklaces and I made earrings that I hung by nails on a wood board. I went down to where the tourists hang out and sold every one of them! So that sort of started it all. People couldn’t just go to Michaels so I found places that made beads and invested in more beads then I made more designs and I just kept selling more. And I am very happy to say that I am still doing that today!
DPJ: What types of materials do you use to create the pieces?
ME: I primarily work with semiprecious stones, Swarovski crystals, Czech glass and Japanese seed beads; those are primarily where all the color comes from. As far as metals are concerned, I have silver, gold, copper, brass and gunmetal. It is just as important to me as an artist that the inside materials are the excellent quality because I want to make pieces that are durable and could be heirlooms in the future. Especially when we are dealing with woven pieces; the inside thread is silk like on your skin but is so strong that you could cut your finger with it if you tried to break it.
DPJ: What is your philosophy with your studio?
ME: What I do is more than just a business. What I do is an extension of me and my sharing with the world something that is handmade, with love and attention to detail. Something that makes another woman happy and feel unique. And I want to make pieces that are affordable for any woman. Every one of the pieces that I make are one of a kind. I don’t make two of the same thing. When you come to the studio you see many examples of pieces, but what I really love to do is making one of a kind, custom made pieces. I want someone to be able to walk in here and say ‘Marisabel, I have this dress that I want you to make something unique to go with it.’ Where the customer is as involved in the creative process as they want to be, from choosing their stones to choosing their length. Or they can just tell me to do whatever I want or they can choose from stuff that is already made.
One thing I have been known to be good at is when someone gives me a description of someone who I have not met, and they tell me about their features and personality and favorite colors and then I make three samples and when they walk in they are like, ‘Wow! This is her right there!’ So that is what makes it really fun.
DPJ: What do you love about making your jewelry?
ME: I love color. I love texture. People and how they relate to each other and relationships inspire me. I just love to work with weaving for that reason, each seed bead has an identity of its own but it doesn’t mean anything until it is woven with the other ones into a bracelet or jewelry piece. They are all interdependent on another to make a whole piece. I like beads and materials that have a little irregularity or that have a uniqueness because they remind me of people in a society and promotes that we need to accept each person and their individuality and that we need to work together to find that one thing that we have in common and start working with that and learn to love our differences and make something awesome out of it.
DPJ: Roughly, how long does it take to make each piece?
ME: This is so hard to describe because this isn’t like a factory where you do the same thing over and over again. Each individual piece is unique and different so it is a new process every single time and I can’t imagine how long that is going to take each time. However long it takes for it to be a piece you would sign your name to. I want my clients to walk out of here feeling special and elated, and if there is anything that will interfere with that feeling I want to give them their money back. It is not just a business for the money.
Marisabel is also offering the community a chance to learn her trade through small classes. She will be teaching both jewelry-making as well as fine arts in her studio. For more information on those contact her by telephone, (602) 574 – 6460.