By Margarita Hirapetian
Humans have been adorning themselves with jewelry for millennia, and with good reason. Wearing a beautifully crafted piece can lift your spirits, make you feel glamorous and pretty, and there’s no denying that jewelry often holds much sentimental value. The jewelry handmade by artist Élan Young checks all those boxes – it will make you feel gorgeous, give your mood a boost, and immediately become a treasured piece in your collection. Handcrafted with love, each piece Élan makes stands out, like a one-of-a-kind mixed metal circle necklace that is a total classic and comfortable enough for daily wear, or an earthy red jasper pendant that will spice up any outfit. Peruse her Instagram page or website and you will fall in love with all of her creations, especially if you are partial to jewelry that features mixed metals and earth stones, is ethically made, and benefits conservation. Honestly, what’s not to love?
Élan’s business is called Copper Fire, a fitting name inspired by the special role that copper has played in ancient history, mythology, and human healing. Élan says, “I’m also drawn to the symbolic power of fire to illuminate and transform.” She aspires to make pieces that “will last generations” and “imbue more beauty, energy, inspiration, and meaning into everyday life.” Looking at her work, there’s really no doubt that she has accomplished that. Élan began her journey into jewelry-making in 2013. She’s also a writer, and in 2013, she was writing a magazine story about regional arts and crafts schools in Tennessee and North Carolina. This experience inspired her to learn a craft herself, although she wasn’t quite sure where to start. First, she thought she might want to learn blacksmithing, but after further thought, she realized that using fire and metal to make “wearable pieces of art” was ultimately the right choice for her. She says, “I started looking around online and discovered a treasure trove of online classes. I started learning my craft by studying online and from books and DVDs, meanwhile acquiring more and more tools. I did this all on the side, since I was employed as a writer. Then things slowed down a bit when I became a mother, but I would go down to my basement studio and practice when my son was a baby, and it kept the spark alive. I was working for an agency at the time, and I was helping other businesses with their creative content, so I decided that if I was doing that for other businesses, I could do it for myself. I slowly started working on getting a logo, website and social media pages and thinking of my business as a brand. To me it was an investment in my future to pursue my dream of earning a living in a different way than I ever had.”
The investment has definitely paid off, and it’s obvious Élan loves what she does. When she says that every piece is “handcrafted with love,” you absolutely believe her. And when it comes to jewelry-making, in general, Élan says there are two amazing things about it, “The first is when I can see the finished piece and realize how much love and toil went into it. The next best part of making jewelry is seeing the look on someone's face when they find a piece that speaks to them and fall in love. Their whole face lights up, and it gives me a feeling of deep connection knowing that I've brought a little more joy into the world.” There really can’t be a more fulfilling feeling than knowing that you’ve brought someone joy, can there? Consequently, Élan hopes that her work and creations exude love, “I hope that my customers feel the love that goes into wearing something that is handmade. Otherwise, I hope that anyone can appreciate the beauty of copper, which has such a pretty luster. My goal is to make jewelry that helps a person feel strong and beautiful, inside and out.”
When it comes to finding inspiration, Élan acknowledges how lucky she is to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park “on a beautiful river that flows from the mountains.” An avid hiker and backpacker, she loves spending time in nature, and admits that it has informed much of who she is. Her inspiration for all of her one-of-a-kind pieces comes from nature “first and foremost,” and she feels that her jewelry “can be a way to share my love for nature and be a way that I can contribute to conservation by donating a portion of my sales.” That’s very noble, and it’s no surprise that someone who cares so much about nature and about the meaning of her work also wants to give back in some way.
Élan is clearly super talented and gifted, and she also happens to have great advice for anybody interested in jewelry making, or who is already forging ahead but may have doubts: “Don't be stifled by the competition. While there are a lot of jewelry designers and metalsmiths featuring their work on social media, if you stay focused on learning your craft, your own style will emerge. Additionally, your style will grow and change over time. Stay persistent when it comes to applying to art showcases or getting into retail stores. Your customers will love learning about your process and your journey, so stay focused on what brings you joy, not on being like others.”
Currently, Élan is working on a line of small batch jewelry and handmade copper bowls for a wholesale line, with lots of other things in the works. Intrigued? First, you should totally check out more of her creations on her Instagram (@copper_fire) and then you should visit her site (www.copper-fire.com) for a bit of retail therapy. You won’t regret it!