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.
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Lauren Burke, dancer and choreographer Ben Fritzsching, comic book show promoter and character actor Will Ottinger, novelist Greg Starbird, theater lighting designer Dominique Royem, symphony orchestra conductor Marc Boone, Sneaker Gang founder and designer Andy McWilliams, sound designer and composer Maria-Elisa Heg, zine queen Allan Rodewald, artist Anne-Joelle Galley, artist Michelle Ellen Jones, ballroom dancer and actress Morris Malakoff, photographer and filmmaker Terrill Mitchell, dancer Deji Osinulu, photographer Mason Sweeney, artist K.J. Russell, sci-fi author and writing teacher Emily Robison, choreographer and filmmaker John Cramer, violinist and concertmaster Shipra Mehrotra, Odissi dancer and choreographer Winston Williams, comics artist Octavio Moreno, opera singer Dylan Godwin, actor, storyteller and teacher McKenna Jordan, independent bookstore owner Steven Trimble, mixed media artist Sandria Hu, visual artist and professor of art Robert Gouner AKA Goon73, photographer Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (aka SHER), culture gurus Mark Bradley, photographer James Ferry, comics artist Keith Parsons, author and philosophy professor Alonzo Williams Jr., photographer Rudy Zanzibar Campos, painter Paige Kiliany, director Betirri Bengtson, visual artist Melissa Maygrove, romance novelist Natalie Harris, bridal gown designer Larry McKee, cinematographer Tiffany Heath, filmmaker Jonathan Pidcock, Jewelry Maker Mallory Bechtel, actor, singer, dancer Janine Hughes, visual artist Nyssa Juneau, artist John Merritt, artist Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer