Welcome to the third edition of our Artist Interview series. We send the same interview questions to each of our featured artists as an optional part of their feature and each artist gets to choose which questions they answer. Our aim for this project to uplift community and highlight the people behind the work. If you know a little bit about the person who made your new jewelry, we believe it can become a little bit more precious.
Arielle Routhier is a jewelry maker and designer living in New York City. You can read her bio here. She is part of our October-December 2022 artist rotation.
Interview questions written by Madison Hirsch.
What are some of your earliest memories related to jewelry?
My earliest memories of jewelry have to do with my mom, the jewelry she would wear and shopping for jewelry together. My mom has always been a bracelet gal and I definitely inherited that love of stacked bracelets from her. From a super young age I remember my mom always wearing her Cartier Love bracelet, and the way it would slide against her olive sun kissed skin. At some point she lost the screw and ended up having a jeweler solder the bracelet shut because she
couldn’t afford to have Cartier fix the bracelet, so it truly became a permanent fixture on her. When I turned 16 my mom gave me the bracelet, and I’ve been wearing it for 13 years now. While away at college, overseas traveling, moving to NYC, I look down and she’s right there. Every now and then people comment on the bracelet; some saying how they can’t wait until theirs picks up the marks and adventures of life from wear and tear, some asking if it’s real because of the lumpiness and lack of two screw motifs. I love the imperfections. I love when I
look at my wrist I still see my mom, despite having a much paler complexion. I love that to me THIS Love Bracelet signifies true love.
My other core memory of jewelry is going to Goodwill with my mom after school. We would always scavenge the jewelry cases, particularly the vintage one in the back. We would find the coolest pieces! Mexican buckle bracelets, Czech glass brooches, micro mosaics that were missing pieces but were so special like the paintings found in the MET. Whenever we’re together in NYC, Florida or anywhere in between we always hunt for the Goodwills and their jewelry cases! I attribute my love for antiques/ vintage and my appreciation for the well made to these cases. Ultimately, my desire to make timeless high quality items that can tumble around jewelry boxes for generations and still be desired to wear are a direct result of these afternoons.
What’s your favorite metal to work with? Why?
Ah this is tricky! In college I always preferred to clean/polish sterling castings, but I wasn’t working with gold yet. Now, most of my pieces are gold, and with that comes a little more mindfulness and care in how much is being ground off and polished... When I’m working with silver, I don’t feel as guilty if I end up wanting to change the form of something and grind it off resulting in a nice size pile of sterling silver dust. I love silver, yellow gold and platinum (a new
venture for me!) I can say I’m not a huge fan of white gold, although I have made some pieces here and there, the rhodium plate needed to get that bright white (which eventually wears off) is not my thing!
What’s your favorite gemstone right now? Why?
I love how you added “right now” haha! My favorite gemstone is a Ruby. The deep, moody, romantic red hues just truly make my heart sing. An unheated ruby with wisps of inclusions... Oh my, I actually have cried over one in particular because of how magical it was! Its not about size but color for me. I included a photo of the ring/ruby for you to see what I’m talking about! Emeralds are a very close second... But I like to WEAR my jewelry, so I would end up cracking
these beauties far too easily.
**Ok forreal, if you look into that ruby, I think I might cry too if I saw it in person.**
When and how did you start making jewelry?
I’m sure we all started beading and making string friendship bracelets once our little fingers would allow it! I started making metal jewelry when I went to college at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah Georgia. I was about to graduate with my BFA in Graphic Design and minor in Advertising, having an existential crisis about life. My mom told me to take some time and figure out what I wanted to do, what made me happy before I left college. I always loved
jewelry, so I signed up for an intro class the following semester and the rest is history!
Why did you keep making jewelry?
Simple, it makes me happy! I love carving wax, making people things that matter and mean something to them, I love talking to my casters and stone setters, I love creating pieces that make others happy and feel strong and beautiful!
How did you come up with your brand name/alias?
My brand is me, Arielle Routhier! I love my name and it looks pretty in a serif or sans serif font ;)
What process(es) do you enjoy the most and why?
I absolutely LOVE carving wax! I use both hard and soft wax for my pieces. All the rings are hard wax, and rings are my favorite pieces to make because I feel they are for the wearer. Wax is a soft material, even the hard wax, it’s super malleable and can be worked with a simple touch, heat or my trusted flex shaft. I appreciate how wax lends its self to be formed and also pick up the process , meaning texture. In college we were initially taught how to hand finish pieces
WITHOUT MACHINES, literally by hand with sandpaper... I think this gave me an
appreciation for what happens from start to finish, and the nicks and bumps. I would spend so much time polishing off the fingerprints and “imperfections” but about 6 years ago when I moved to NYC I started celebrating those prints and touches. I think they give a very real and human feel.
In this realization and moment of AH HA I came up with my Living Prints. These are not only a celebration of marks but of life!
The first one made was in sterling silver of my print and my mom wears that same one every single day. I’m never far! Each Living Print is truly 1 of 1, just like your loved one. We have made pendants, and charms, multiples and singles, double sided with two people, diamonds and sapphires wrapping around the edge, or rubies and citrines nestling the bottom. We’ve made prints of cats and dogs, best friends, grandparents, parents, children and siblings. We have had people reach out at all points of life, and they are able to carry their loved one over their heart
What inspires your designs and how has that changed over the years?
My work has always been heavily influenced by forms and textures found in nature. Growing up in South Florida and spending entire summers with my family meant long days combing the beach and diving in the ocean. One of my favorites to collect would be coral growing on a stick. There’s the contrast of land and sea, you see how this organism latched on to the stick for life, and built a home, and perhaps my FAVORITE part of the whole thing is you can see how the current was flowing based off how the stick was bent frozen in movement.
My current pieces are still rooted there, but being in the city I can see how I have begun to juxtapose the rigid geometric elements with these “growing” forms. I also have started collecting wood antique furniture bits and bobs like finials or joints. I think this might be a new vein of inspiration for me!
What do you hope people will take away from seeing your work? What do you hope people will take away from wearing your work?
I hope people are intrigued, and want to explore the pieces. I hope they feel beautiful, bold, fun and unique. The majority of my jewelry is purchased by people shopping for themselves, mostly women. Sometimes for accomplishments, birthdays, milestones, a big pay day, or just because. I love that we are in this time where women are empowered and want to treat themselves to the nice things, the heirloom pieces that are forever, not just fleeting trends or feel it must be gifted to
What are some of your hobbies off the bench? How often do you try to make time for them?
I’ve always loved plants, but this year I really got into the garden in our back yard. We are lucky to have our own backyard in BK and we have taken full advantage of it! We planted vegetables and flowers, and a fig tree that’s nearly touching our ceiling! I love my three rose bushes and the herb garden big time. I take time for the garden every single day, coffee in the morning, most of my jewelry photos are in the garden, and time to just enjoy the space.
A new thing I’ve been getting into is live life drawing on Tuesdays, a little rusty for sure but definitely fun!
I’m not sure if this is a hobby, but I do love to browse auctions. Not for anything in particular, and most of the time I don’t purchase things, but I do find pieces to research and I enjoy the never ending supply of inspiration I find.
Do you like cooking? (if you do) What’s your go-to meal right now?
I love to cook! My boyfriend and I have been really good about going to the farmers market every Saturday and buying groceries locally, this has made cooking more fun! Also, this Spring we sowed some seeds for our first garden, so we’ve had fun picking and utilizing things we’ve actually grown into our meals. I love pasta, homemade noodles of any shape with some type of sauce,
vegetables, meat or seafood I’m up for it all! Right now I’ve been big on heirloom tomatoes on/in everything, sadly we’re coming to end of tomato season.
Tell us about your family! Born or chosen, live with them or not, human or furry. How do they affect your bench practice or business decisions?
I live in Williamsburg with my boyfriend Michael who is also an artist and our two boys, Coconut who is a Shih Tzu and Mr. Gus the Yorkie. Mic and I met in November of 2019 ~in the wild~ of NYC and have been together ever since! Michael is a full time artist, he paints mostly portrait work with acrylic and oils, draws with all mediums including digital and his newest venture is
custom skate decks. That being said, we have a studio in our apartment! Having a space we can both work together has been so fun and a constant space of inspiration and experimentation. We can show each other what we’re working on, feed off each others ideas and have a fresh set of eyes on what we’re working on as individuals. It’s really awesome!
While the dogs can come down into the basement and hang with us while we work, unfortunately Coconut can’t go to the DUMBO studio with me. We’ve tried a few times and aside from his white paws becoming black from compound etc. he always gets an upset stomach! Mr. Gus just eats everything, so studio is a no go for him!
I’m one of five girls, and all my sisters live down in South Florida where I am originally from as well as my momma. Hmm how do they affect my bench practice and business decisions? They are 5 women that all have varying styles and tastes, they love to share their thoughts on designs, or things I should make. They also love holidays and put in their requests and hints plenty early!
Favorite things to listen to while you work: (be specific! I want audio books,
podcasts, artists, albums, songs, and/or dj’s)
Okay so... I’ve been told this is weird... When I’m at the studio I’m one of those people that usually doesn’t listen to music. It could be a red flag for some haha If I’m carving wax in our home studio (I don’t do any metal finishing in the house because of the pups) I will usually just put on my Spotify discover and it can be all over the place, or my boyfriend put on a podcast like Jay Shetty or Steve-O, The Office / Always Sunny or a comic, I have no idea who they are to be honest, but it is an entertaining listen! Last weekend Michael and I went to see Florence + The
Machine, so that’s been on heavy repeat. Looking at the latest that’s played and Drake definitely makes appearances, Future Islands, Diana Ross, Empire of the Sun, MGTM, Latto, Frank Sinatra...We’re all over the place here!
At Tshatshke, we aim to uplift jewelers who align with one or more of our values of holistic sustainability as we define it to relate to the planet, the economy, social issues, community building, and craftsmanship. In what ways do you hope to uphold an ideal of holistic sustainability within your practice and your business?
Since moving to NYC I have always used recycled metal when casting jewelry and I have to say I have seen SO many jewelers and designers utilize this ability! I think it’s one of the easiest ways we can do our part to minimize our footprint. I’ve also tried my best to make sure that all materials are fair trade, especially stones.
I will always celebrate jewelry’s traditional roots, the artistry and craftsmanship that run centuries deep. That being said, building a community that shines light on all the facets of the jewelry world is important to me. The family of wonderful people we work with to create our jewelry come from all over the globe. Both casters we use are family, and from South America, finishers from Turkey, and CAD designers whose parents moved to America from China. Mothers and
fathers, siblings, cousins and uncles, all intertwined to make beauty. All men and women who I am absolutely honored to work with, learn from and experience life together!