"We make Portland awesome" is a bi-weekly series. I’m interested building our community of artists by helping us all find out more about each other.
This week: Molly of Elizabeth JewelryWho are you?
I am a native Oregonian, mother of two (almost an empty nester with a 17 and 19 year old), wife, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer, lover of books and old films, and professional snacker. Oh you wanted my name? Henrietta Rita. At least that will be my nom de plume should I write a book. It's a name I had to make up on the fly when, at 16, a guy asked me out at a bowling alley. Having never been approached by boys before I came up with this bit of dorkiness when he asked my name. OK. My real name. Its Molly Rae Rahe. Both Rae's are pronounced the same. Because I married someone with the same last name as my middle name.
What do you make?
Handcrafted sterling jewelry. When I was pregnant with my now 17 year old daughter, I was bedridden. My mom, sensing my boredom, gave me a hat box full of colorful glass beads and a "How to make jewelry" book, and said, "Have at it!" I got some basic pliers and wire from the garage and soon miles of wire-wrapped beaded chain appeared. My daughter, Elizabeth, made it full term, a very healthy baby. She was, and still is, the prettiest thing I have ever made, so I named my jewelry line after her. A few months later I cut up the beaded chain and made necklaces, which I sold at my friends garage sale. I made $70, and reinvested it with genuine sterling silver and gemstones. Then I sold those items to friends and family for a few months, always reinvesting to make more product. Soon I had enough to make a small sample line and took it to dozens of local stores. They all bought because locally handcrafted beaded jewelry was all the new "IT" thing then, however the pieces I made my first year just sucked. It was my "learning how to make quality" year. I think the stores just bought it because there was no one else showing locally handcrafted jewelry. Can you imagine that? I am thankful for them so much. So anyways, now I do a lot of hand fabrication with sterling, 14k gold fill, pearls and gemstones. I cut, grind, saw, hammer, wire-wrap. I also bought this year a makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer. This opens up a whole new world for design and jewelry makers. After creating a 3d file with a new design (which can take dozens of hours), then slice it in Makerware, and print. Once it prints successfully (dozens of hours more...), I can cast them into sterling or bronze.
I also use my prior experience working with Monet jewelers and Liz Palacios Designs to establish a line.
Besides making things, what do you do?
There are about 9 of my friends that have gotten together every Monday night for Bible study for ten years. They are solid, honest, real, genuine women who mentor and support each other. I also love to go boating in the summer with my family.
What inspires you?
I do a lot of shows. Nearly 80 a year if you count trunk shows. This allows me to interact with so many people. I listen to them and pay attention to what the average woman on the street is wanting with her jewelry. I am constantly hearing their wishes and needs. They are my inspiration. With my "build your own" necklace collection, where people hand pick out any combination of initials, birthstones, and charms, I get a sneak peek into peoples lives. They tell me what each letter, each stone symbolizes. It's all very personal, and I am always wanting to make more things that people identify with in their everyday lives.
Where can your work be found?
Mable and Zora, Yamhills gallery, Made In Oregon, The Embassy Suites, The Marriott, Timberline Lodge, The Rose Garden gift shop, various hospital gift shops, and about a dozen out-of-town boutique shops.
What do you love about Portland?
Since establishing my business I don't have much of that free time that 9-to-5ers get to venture out and about. However One of my favorite places to stroll around peacefully is Elk Rock at the Bishops Close. 5 acres of mature gardens. Skyline burgers. Duffs Garage. Roller skating on the waterfront, starting at Omsi and doing the bridge loop. I love the fact that I have been told by many European travelers that Portland is the most European city they have been to in America. Polite, they say.
Make sure you check out Elizabeth Jewelry's Etsy shop and website.
Thanks for sharing, Molly!