Old treasures become a new business for sophomore Addie Gleason

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Addie Gleason

Bending wires around a stone, sophomore Addie Gleason creates jewelry from silver wire and stones or sea glass. Gleason draws inspiration from nature to create her designs. “When I want to create a piece, I’ll first look through all of the sea glass and stones I have and pick one that I like or that inspires me,” Gleason said. “Sometimes I don’t really think about a design and just see what happens, other times I’ll have a specific idea that I want to create. I’ll just keep the idea in mind as I create the piece.”

Sophomore Addie Gleason quickly turned her camera off of the FaceTime screen and pulled up her messages. She had been showing her friends the new necklace she made, a fossil intertwined in a design of silver wire. She had stopped herself mid-sentence, offering only an excited “I have to show my uncle!” as an explanation. After a minute of silence, she turned her camera back on, a small smile on her face as she awaited a reply.

After rediscovering an old collection of stones in her house one December day, Gleason began making jewelry. Gleason’s uncle, who is also a jewelry designer, brought her additional stones to work with after hearing what she was up to. 

“My uncle inspires me through the jewelry he makes. I always find it interesting to hear about the process of making a piece and all of the materials that go into making a necklace,” Gleason said. “When I get feedback from him, sometimes it’s pointing out that a stone is secured well in the wire or that the focal point of the piece is good. Sometimes it’s advice on what I should charge for the pieces or materials that I can use to make more complex jewelry.” 

The Tree of Life, Addie Gleason’s favorite design, displayed on a fossilized fishbone in silver wire. (Addie Gleason)

Gleason primarily creates jewelry out of silver wire and stones, but particularly enjoys working with sea glass. Her craft centers around necklaces, though she also makes earrings and rings.

“My favorite one that I’ve made so far would probably have to be [the] Tree of Life pendant necklace,” Gleason said. “I really like using sea glass. It’s really pretty and I can easily make better designs with it than I could with a rock.”

Gleason had wanted to start an online shop on Etsy before, but was never sure what she would sell. With the new skills she was developing and encouragement from her friends, Gleason was finally ready. 

“Once I’m able to get it started, I think it’ll be cool because it’s showing myself that I’d be able to do something that requires more research,” Gleason said. “It’s something that I can keep improving on. Looking at the first necklace that I made versus the ones that I make now, they’ve definitely gotten a lot better.” 

Gleason plans to set up her shop on Etsy called Juniper Earth Jewelry and has already begun advertising on Instagram and TikTok; she does not post often, but plans to advertise more when the shop opens.

“Originally, I had planned on opening [the Etsy shop] sooner, but other factors got in the way,” Gleason said. “I was excited to start working on the shop, though, so I thought a good way to get started would be making some pieces to start with and advertise a bit.”

After the stress of school and homework Gleason sometimes finds it challenging to feel inspired to make her jewelry. Gleason has to decide what design she wants to make, figure out what gauge of wire she wants for the design, and accurately cut it before she begins to wrap the stones.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to make stuff. Also, sometimes the wire will break or doesn’t come out how you want, and that can be frustrating,” Gleason said. “I have a bunch of necklaces made and everything’s ready. I just need to get shipping materials and figure out the cost of that and then set up the website.” 

Gleason gains motivation by listening to music and staying positive. By reminding herself of how much time she’s put into a difficult piece, she can persevere through it. Gleason also finds staying positive and listening to good music makes the process easier. She feels the challenges are worth it when a piece turns out how she envisions.

A green dalmatian jasper intertwined in silver wire, available for sale when Juniper Earth Jewelry opens. (Addie Gleason)

“Sometimes during a piece, the wire keeps breaking or it bends weirdly. You have this really cool vision in your head, but you’re not sure if it’s going to turn out. When it actually does, it’s really exciting,” Gleason said. “Even if you were frustrated while making it, it’s really cool to see the finished product coming out how you wanted or even cooler than you wanted it.”

Reflecting back, Gleason notes the improvement in her jewelry from when she started. She  hopes she can continue to share her craft with others and wants to see Juniper Earth Jewelry become a successful business.

“My hope would just be to make jewelry that other people can enjoy. I want to keep up with it and get the shop open soon and carry out making jewelry,” Gleason said. “I’m not sure how it will work once I go to college and what issues that will present, but currently, I’m just hoping to work on advertising and making sales.”