In April, the withitgirls were introduced to Danielle via her Instagram @brokenpebble_studio. After seeing her fabulous work and colorful feed I knew that I not only needed a ring, but also wanted to interview Danielle about her work, inspirations, and the jewelry community. Check out her conversation with fellow artist and jewelry creator Emily Wagner below! Broken Pebble Studio will be at West Coast Craft Fair @ Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, Sept 18 & 19, 2021~Asha Mcgee
Emily Wagner: How did you get into your craft? Who or what inspired you?
Danielle Hoang: I've always enjoyed making things with my hands. As a kid, I would dive into a project and everything else would blur and I'd be completely focused. That same enjoyment of working with materials carries into today with Broken Pebble Studio. I fell in love with ceramics at the Sharon Art Studio in Golden Gate Park when I was about twelve. The space itself was inspiring knowing how many artists have been through those doors- and the material was fun. I'm so glad things came full circle and currently have the opportunity to be a teacher there today- it's a pretty special place.
Another inspiration was my mom. She was a single mom who worked hard and was super crafty. I would ask her to buy me stuff, as most kids do, and she would generally say, "No, Danielle, you could make something like that".
Instead of buying new books, we would sometimes go to the public library, check out my favorite books, and create versions of them. I would make a little book out of paper and staples, and my mom would illustrate it, write the story on each page and make a cover with the author's name on it. She really empowered me to do things on my own, and if I couldn't figure it out, I would take it apart until I understood it.
[In college] I majored in studio art with an emphasis in both ceramics and photography and minored in marketing. After living and working in San Francisco for a few years after college I left and traveled for a year. When I came back I started teaching ceramics, and I haven't stopped. While being a ceramics lab tech at the CCSF, I started making ceramic pendants. I did this process called Nerikomi, where you layer slabs of different colored clay, knead it, and cut slices of it to create a marbled effect. I sold at craft shows and fundraisers, but after a couple of years I realized, “I don't like this stuff anymore”. I noticed that I wasn't wearing anything that I made, I just made it because I knew the process and people were buying it.
And then I told myself, "Okay, stop. Refocus yourself, figure out what you like, and then do that. You don't have to fit into any sort of mold that you've already created for yourself. Just because you've been doing this, doesn't mean you have to keep doing it".
So, I started taking metalsmithing classes and have been practicing it for the past four or five years. I really enjoyed teaching, which allowed my craft to be outside of my day job. Because of this, I didn't have to put pressure on myself to make selling jewelry or ceramics my main source of income. This allowed me the freedom and time to create a jewelry aesthetic that I like, not just a style that will sell. And what came out of this shift actually has been the most successful, and I wear my jewelry all the time now!
Emily: Yes, this is blowing my mind right now because I'm like, right at that turning point myself. I want to do other things so that my creative brain can just rest and flourish on its own.
Danielle: Yeah, do it. I think it's safe to assume that people are gonna want your stuff because it's really authentically you and they'll feel your joy through your work.
Emily: Do you feel like a connection to any of your materials? Or is it just like, what you were given and you're making it work?
Danielle: I definitely lean towards mixed media and three-dimensional things- things that are tangible that I can hold in my hands and things that I can use, like jewelry, a bowl, or a cup. The whole day could pass at my jewelry bench or in the ceramics studio before I realize its dark outside. Silversmithing is pretty meditative for me.
Emily: How do your identity and the way you were raised align with that passion for having something you can hold in your hand?
Danielle: Growing up, we would donate stuff before we would ever throw things in the trash. But before donating something, we would first ask ourselves, "what could we use this for?" A broken bowl for example- we would break it further and make a mosaic out of it. I tend to collect things, but I do always eventually use them.
Emily: What are some of the wackiest things you collect right now?
Danielle: Um, well, I collect trolls.
Emily: Can I see them?
Danielle: Here's a super OG bride like this is Troll Gen 1. I have probably like 20 of these... Oh, this one's cool. My roller-blader guy!
Emily: Tell me about the jewelry community? Do you feel like it's competitive?
Danielle: For me, [living as an artist is] not competitive. Because everybody has their own style, it actually feels the opposite of being competitive. I'm inclined to lift other artists up and share their work through my Instagram or through word of mouth. So if somebody asks me to be a vendor at a show or fundraiser, I'll tell my other jeweler or maker friends about the opportunity. I want to treat other artists the way that I would want to be treated.
Emily: We thrive off of that, right? It's just so much better when people are doing that.
Danielle: There's a little community within this little community of San Francisco, you know, and I think that's why I haven't left. I’ve had some travels and lived in Hawaii and New York for short periods, but I always wind up coming back here because of the people I love.
Check out Danielle's Music playlist for withitgirl:
Emily is an artist and student mainly based in California who makes fabulous handcrafted wire earrings @stolenforms. Asha is a director and contributor at withitgirl and her most complimented and favorite ring is via Danielle.
Broken Pebble Studio will be at West Coast Craft Fair @ Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, September 18 & 19, 2021
See more of Danielle's Instagram
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