Molly Debiak studied jewelry-making in New York, where she was trained in metal fabrication, lost wax casting, and diamond setting. She has made Seattle her home over the past 12 years and established her studio in a cool ,industrial building in Ballard. We visited her in her studio, a cozy space conducive to both jewelry production and showing clients her work.
How did you get started making jewelry? What were those first pieces like, and how has your style changed since then?
I began playing around with metal-smithing about ten years ago, taking classes here and there. My first pieces of jewelry were composed of direct casts from natural materials like small twigs and cedar fronds. My work is still largely centered around natural and organic objects but I now mostly carve abstract ideas, which feels more authentic.
Are there specific artists whose work you enjoy, or who inspire you to create?
There are so many! My favorites are artists and creators who make functional art, such as furniture (Mark Tuckey), fragrance (Patrick Kelly of Sigil Scent), and clothing (Karen and Marie Potesta of Micaela Greg), to name a few. The common denominator is that they are inspired, authentic, eco-conscious, and absolute hustlers. They motivate me to get to work.
I’m curious about your routine for making art. Do you have any specific habits, or ways of setting up your studio before a day of work?
I like to begin in a clean and organized studio - it’s difficult for me to think otherwise. If I’m working on a new line, I need to begin with a clear sense of direction. I’ll jot down rough sketches of ideas and visualize the piece in detail before I begin carving wax. If I begin carving blindly with ideas but not a concrete plan, I usually carve the wax into nothing and waste the whole day. And if I am working on metal, fulfilling orders and such, I methodically triage my steps.
You run a small, eco-friendly business. Can you talk a little about your values and priorities and how they factor into your work?
As we all know, the fashion industry is very polluting, unfortunately, so as I am a member of it I prioritize maintaining as light a footprint as possible. I do this by using recycled metals at every opportunity, ethically-sourced stones from vendors I trust, and packaging of recycled/recyclable and/or compostable materials as much as possible. I also work largely on a made-to-order basis, which means that I produce product on demand rather than in bulk. This helps me avoid over-producing inventory that might become un-wanted items heading to the landfill.
What are you currently working on? Is there anything you’re excited about?
I am working on a few new amulets that I am really excited about! Inspired by the recognition of feminine power and the importance of sisterhood, they are depictions of women in the manner of vintage-style cameos, but modern.