By MIKE CHAIKEN
Connecticut-based fashion accessories designer Jillian Lyons got a boost to her career last year when she was tapped as a finalist for the Rawards—an arts-based competition organized by Raw Natural Born Artists in Hartford.
Since then, she’s been clicking along creating her own jewelry… and lately she’s been soaring by crafting angel wings.
We caught up with the West Haven resident at a recent photograph shoot.
Observer: How did you find yourself getting into fashion accessories design?
Jillian: Back in the late ‘90s, I helped to manage a little boutique in downtown New Haven. Customers would come in and ask if we had jewelry in certain styles. Essentially, I taught myself how to make jewelry and scarves to fill gaps in our inventory. When people started buying it up, I started trying to learn creating in more mediums. Over the years, it’s just become a hobby I always came back to.
O: How would you describe your style?
J: Vintage-inspired for sure. My idea of style always goes back to the decades of the 1920s to the 1950s. Marilyn (Monroe), Veronica Lake, Bettie Page, Joan Crawford are big for me. Lately, I find myself taking a different turn influenced by events in my life. My work is starting to take on a more Steampunk and Gothic look. It’s all fusing into something interesting I think.
O: What kinds of pieces do you make and what materials do you use?
J: I always make jewelry. That is a constant for me. I love vintage rhinestones and old brass stampings. I try and use actual vintage supplies as often as possible. Broken vintage pieces are my favorite. I love taking them apart and trying to breathe new life into them. My angel wings are something recent. I make them wearable like for a costume or as a prop. A lot of feathers, jewelry trimming. It’s a whole process. I sometimes knit as well. I like to make hats and scarfs from unusual or hand-made yarns.
O: What inspires you?
J: My wings are kind of cathartic for me. Over the past three years a lot of life and death situations have cropped up. I am a cancer survivor, that had its own journey. I have lost people close to me recently. I am very influenced by the questions I have about life and death, and my feelings about God. I think the wings just kind of started to happen as my way of dealing with those questions and feelings. My jewelry always comes back to the past as well. I love looking at pictures of old Hollywood legends. Pinterest is huge for me in that way. (There are) so many great pictures. I have boards of just inspiring images and old stars.
For more information about Lyons, check out her Etsy at http://www. etsy.com/shop/jillianlyonsdesigns
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.
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