Growing up – the cruelest myth of them all

Librarian by day and self-taught metalsmith by night, Amy Wykoff handcrafts unique jewelry in between the covers of intriguing stories and the perfectly welded creative collection of a life.

photographs by angel butler /  interview by ciara bird

When people ask you what you “do”— how do you answer? I’m a librarian by day and a metalsmith by night. In both careers, creativity and problem solving are necessary to be successful. What I love about creating handcrafted jewelry is the opportunity it gives me to experiment with metal and to always learn while creating.

What materials do you work with? I mostly work with sterling silver and incorporate natural gemstones and found rocks into many of my pieces. I also combine sterling, brass, and copper because I love the look of mixed metal jewelry. I use natural patterns, forms, and textures and a variety of techniques, giving my work an organic feel.

What are you inspired by? As you can imagine, a librarian has access to plenty of inspiration – I check out more books than I ever have time to read! Currently I’m reading about geometry in nature, gemstones and minerals. Most of all, I’m inspired by exploring the natural world on hikes, trips to new places, or simply sitting outside in my garden observing.

Do you wear your own jewelry? As a jewelry designer, I can make a new piece of jewelry to wear every day of the week so you know that has to be fun. I create jewelry that I enjoy wearing and that I think will make the wearer feel beautiful. I find myself wearing lots of sterling and copper stacking ring sets and my mixed metal hexagon bangles almost every day because they go with everything and are so comfortable. Turquoise rings are another favorite of mine to wear and my brass fan necklaces because they can dress up any outfit effortlessly.

What are you most proud of? Over the past two years, this passion of mine has turned into a business that is sustainable and my work has been in very high demand recently. I create pieces that I love and I am pleased that so many of my clients report how much they love my work also. I enjoy running into someone in Charlotte who is wearing a piece I’ve created or when someone shares a photo to show me how much they love their purchase. This always makes me smile!

What’s the best thing about your job? I found a career that allows me to spend my days researching and delving into new topics. My interest in learning led me to explore jewelry design and to teach myself how to operate a torch and a rolling mill.

What do you love about your neighborhood? I live in NoDa and I cannot imagine living anywhere else in Charlotte. This community welcomed me with open arms when I moved here five years ago and I have been continuously surrounded by intelligent, creative, and passionate people. Many of my neighbors are artists, actors, or musicians and they openly share their interests. One of my favorite quotes from the very popular Holstee Manifesto is, “Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.” NoDa is a community of people who want to create and this is exactly where I want to be.

Where can readers find your work locally? Currently, I have my work at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Gift Shop in Uptown Charlotte and a sweet little store called Eco-Licious in Plaza Midwood. I also sell my work on Etsy.

This interview was conducted early 2014.

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