Artist Interview: Jeanne Shuff of Jeanne Marie Jewelry

On Saturday, December 7th, from 10am to 5pm, Koolkat will be hosting a Trunk Show featuring the work of local jewelry artist, Jeanne Shuff of Jeanne Marie Jewelry. Jeanne designs and handcrafts jewelry using quality materials such as stones, Swarovski crystals and Czech glass. Her attention to detail and skill at various beading techniques give her work a high level of finish. Her jewelry often features a monochromatic color scheme to allow the texture and the beauty of the natural and semi-precious gemstones to take center stage.  A generous and gifted teacher, Jeanne is a local bead instructor teaching classes such as bead crochet, netted necklaces, and rivoli crystal bezels. Her trunk show will feature an outstanding selection of earrings, as well as beaded necklaces and bracelets. 

As Kate McGrady, Koolkat Designs’ owner says, “Jeanne’s style is classic quality. She is a genuine artist designing for timeless appeal. As one of our top earring sellers, her work pleases a broad audience. She is also an attentive instructor willing to share her talents with patience and skill.”

Jeanne’s thoughtful and calm manner, her attention to detail and craftsmanship, her keen eye and color sense continue to impress all who know her.  We are so thrilled to be able to introduce her to you.  Grab a cup of tea, and learn more about this gifted artist.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a native of Pittsburgh and live in the Fox Chapel area in O’Hara Township. I am married, have two children, and recently became an ‘empty nester’ this fall so I hope to have more time to devote to designing and creating jewelry. I have always had a love of hand crafted items. People may be surprised to learn that I majored in Chemistry and wore a lab coat for many years.

Tell us what the handmade scene is like in Fox Chapel.
The handmade scene in my area of the North Hills consists mainly of holiday arts and crafts shows. There is a great gift shop in my neighborhood, SoMe, that is dedicated to American handcrafted gifts and also carries my jewelry. Lawrenceville and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts are just across the river.  

Describe your working space for us.
There’s not much to describe. I have been using my dining room and dining room table as my work area. I plan to find/make a dedicated room in my house in the coming year.

How long have you been making jewelry? How did you become interested in it?
I have been making jewelry about 10 years. I’ve always had a love of jewelry and took as many jewelry classes in high school as I could. I also enjoy knitting. I visited a bead shop with a friend and was hooked.  Full circle, I now teach at that store among others in the greater Pittsburgh area. [Jeanne currently teaches locally at Bidelia’s Bead Boutique and Crystal Bead Bazaar.]

As someone who also teaches, what is your favorite part about teaching your art?
I teach seed bead weaving. My favorite part of teaching is encouraging new students by sharing my knowledge of the project’s stitches. I always hope the student leaves with a piece they love and a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and mastery of that particular technique.

Do you have a favorite technique or bead?
My favorite technique is bead crochet.  I like the look and feel of the finished jewelry as well as crocheting.

What’s your favorite color?
Blue is my favorite color, although I do like the natural colors of green and brown. In my jewelry I experiment with different color combinations and use a variety of semi-precious gemstones.

If people could take only three things away from your work, what would they be?
The three things I hope people appreciate in my jewelry, are the clean, classic, ‘wearable’ designs I create, the quality of materials I select and use, and the attention to detail in my craftsmanship and execution.

At Koolkat, you are known for your fabulous earrings.  What is your favorite pair of earrings that you wear all the time?  If so, please describe them to us.
That’s a hard one! I am an earring collector and wear a lot of different earrings. Of course I like every pair I make. The pair of mine that I’ve been wearing the most recently is a pair of faceted citrine pear shaped briolettes that I splurged on and hand wrapped in sterling silver.

How did you first become involved with Koolkat Designs?
A friend of mine recommended I visit Koolkat’s and talk with Kate McGrady.  The rest is history.

What is your favorite thing about Koolkat Designs?
Aside from the fact the store supports local artists, my favorite thing is the friendliness and supportiveness of the female artists and jewelry designers that staff the store.

What advice would you have for someone hoping to take their work from hobby to business?
I know this will sound like a cliché, but do what you love and find your niche. 

What does it mean to you to have someone buy your work?
It validates what I do.  I am glad my jewelry and work speaks to someone else.  Jewelry makes a personal statement about the wearer. The fact that someone else chooses to wear or gift something I created is a compliment.