Jera Rose Petal Lodge, one of five artists currently in residence at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, has been making things her whole life, she says. "I was always really into sewing and would make jewelry with whatever I could get my hands on, but I didn't think making jewelry could be a career until I was in my early twenties. I took a couple of years off after high school and saw a friend taking a metalsmithing class, and when I saw what she was making, I knew that's what I wanted to do."
Lodge graduated from college in 2012 and has been working independently for only two years. In that time, she's decided that metalsmithing and jewelry design is how she wants to make her living, but she isn't sure if that's a good plan.
"Right now, I say this looks like it's going to be my work, but at the same time I never take days off so that doesn't look sustainable. In the three months I've been in Houston, I've never taken one day off. Can I really not take any time off for the next ten years? I have to think about that."
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What she does: "Sometimes I tell people that I'm a metalsmith and a lot of them say, 'Oh, wow, can you make me a sword?' And, no, that's a completely different thing. I call myself a jewelery designer, and people have a better idea of what that is, but really I'm both. I'm a metalsmith and a jewelry designer."
Why she likes it: "I love that my pieces can be worn. I want to make something that people can put on and feel beautiful in. Beyond that, I love that the work can stand on its own. Even if no one is wearing it, it's still beautiful."
There's a phase of the design and assembly that Lodge most enjoys. "Getting started is always fun, but the middle, when I'm putting it all together, that's my favorite part."
What inspires her: Shapes play a big part in Lodge's work, but she doesn't always have an idea of what the final shape will be. Instead she begins making small components, pieces that might work together. As she figures out how they can work together, she shapes the final piece. Her work, she says, might be symbolic for other people, but she isn't designing it with any symbolism or narrative.
"I'm not telling a story, but I am making a statement about how a person thinks of themselves, how they see themselves and what they think is beautiful."
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If not this, then what: "This is my dream gig. I think about that all the time, when I'm having a really hard day or I'm down about something, I think, 'Okay, then what else could I be doing?' And the answer is always that this is what I want to do."
If not here, then where: "I'm really impressed with Houston so far. I think it's a hidden gem almost. I could stay here or I could go anywhere else. I love that I can do this work anywhere."
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What's next: "I'm scoping out other residencies, but I don't have any other real plans yet."
For more information about Jera Rose Petal Lodge and her work, visit jeralodge.com.
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