Maker's Remarks

Maker’s Remarks: Sarah Newby

Nail & Thread necklace by Sarah Newby

I’m positively thrilled to share our latest Maker’s Remarks interview. This time, I get to share the beautiful work of my super talented new friend and classmate, Sarah Newby. Sarah is debuting her new shop Newby Treasury with a line of jewelry made from wrapped jute rope and old nails. Separately, you might not think these items would make for a beautiful necklace, but combined using Sarah’s skilled hand and eye, the end result is a work of quiet elegance.

What inspired you to create jewelry out of old nails?

The necklace evolved out of my fascination with aged, found objects, and my interest in sculpture, which came about when I was a student at the University of Arizona. For a long time I’ve collected things like rusted nails, animal bones, bug carcasses, gnarled pieces of metal, rocks, sticks, lost keys, etc. About four or five years ago, my good friend Sean Madrid (he makes amazing jewelry as 3BLEEPS) helped me hammer a pin-sized hole through a shell. I strung it with thread and wore it as a necklace; this is how I started making jewelry. Soon after making the shell necklace, I started using crochet thread to wrap mesquite branches, and then other found objects. I eventually tried wrapping found nails in crochet thread, and the necklaces followed.

Can you talk briefly about your jewelry making process? Do you start with a design, or do you jump right into creating?

For jewelry, I always start with a design, but ultimately the process is a combination of designing ahead of time and improvising as I go. I never think of designs when I’m sitting down to make something. Instead, of course, I get ideas when I’m busy with other things, so I always carry a notebook. After I have an idea I’m excited about, I usually execute it pretty quickly because I’m eager to see if it works. When I’m actually making a prototype, I experiment with techniques to improve upon the artistic qualities, and my original design is often altered. I always look for ways to work more efficiently too; for example, my first knot necklaces (Avalon and Antillia) took hours to make, and I have since discovered methods that help me work more quickly. The wrapping process, in which I tightly wrap crochet thread around jute rope, is very time-consuming but also therapeutic. The process clears my mind.

Newby Treasury necklace

What’s your favorite cocktail? Do you have a recipe you can share with us?

I’m completely homesick. I moved from Tucson, Arizona to Chicago for school about a year and a half ago, and for one reason or another I haven’t had the chance to return. I miss the big sky–even the suffocating sky of the summer months–and the desert plants, especially agave. The edges of the agave are pointed sharp, but the skin of the appendages is soft. As the plant grows and the leaves spread apart from one another, you can see that each leaf bears faint images of it’s brothers; the photographic quality has always fascinated me. For readers that are into darkroom photography, it sort of looks like a faint solarized photogram image. You can see what I mean here.

In honor of the agave, which is so dear to me, I’d like to share a mezcal margarita. It’s deliciously smoky and difficult to stop drinking. Be careful though, the mezcal’s effect comes on strong.

2 parts mezcal (This is the most important ingredient, so choose wisely. I’m hooked on Del Maguey Mezcal Vida)
1 part orange liqueur (inexpensive triple sec works for me)
1 part fresh lime juice
Shake the ingredients in a shaker with ice, then pour over ice.

Nail & Thread necklace from Newby Treasury

From your site and personal style, I can tell you have a very discerning eye. What are your thoughts on editing and it’s place in art making?

Art making does have a lot to do with editing; it’s a process of continuous refinement. You build upon previous ideas by keeping the aspects that worked and changing the aspects that didn’t work. I think our daily lives are made up of editing as well. For example, one day on my way home I walked past a poultry shop and the smell disgusted me. That route didn’t work for me, so I edited it out of my routine. Naturally, editing is a part of personal style too. I believe that if you project your personal aesthetic and values honestly with clarity and openness, you will attract other people that are like you. This will help you build a strong and trusting community.

Sarah Newby's nail & thread necklace

If you were a day of the week, which day would you be and why?

I like to sleep in, so I’m Saturday.

Newby Treasury necklace

Do you have any new jewelry design ideas or plans for a future line?

Oh yes. I’m working on a whishbone necklace, and I’m planning to make a series of necklaces using shell fragments I picked up last summer at a beach in Brooklyn. I’m also really anxious to design a bolo tie. Some lava rocks are calling my name too.

3 thoughts on “Maker’s Remarks: Sarah Newby

    • This is my Christmas present “from Brian”. I just ordered the #7 necklace this morning. Using his credit card, of course. I’ll at least let him sign the card that I pick out to go with it…

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