Feature Friday: The Lady Behind Black Willow Jewelry


Hello and Happy Friday! 
Remember a few weeks back when we posted about Feathers Boutique in Austin? (If you don't, you can CLICK HERE to see the post.) In the fourth photo down in that post, is Black Willow Jewelry created by the brilliant Jessica Senteno. After publishing the post we got a really nice email from Jessica and she sent us all the her links so we could see more of her work. I know I instantly fell in love with her jewelry. I love the contrasting elements in her work and the use of raw stones. I would feel like a million bucks wearing her work around! Anyway, it turns out that the mastermind behind Black Willow Jewelry is quite the entertainer and fun to learn about...so we decided to share her with you. I know if we met face to face, I would try and trick her into being my friend.

1.How long have you been designing jewelry and what made you want to become a jewelry designer?
OK so let's see... I have always been a crafter and dabbled in jewelry making among other things. I began beading necklaces in junior high and making intricate pieces that my family loved, but you know how that is. Just because your family likes it doesn't mean it's actually good! ha ha Sweet supportive people they are..
Initially I was an art room nerd, every lunch break you could find me there drawing, watercoloring, sculpting. Then years later I began a career in fashion, but after 8 years of working in companies, I was just beginning to feel like a cog in a big machine-very blah. I figured if I was sacrificing my leisure time I'd rather do it for something I truly believed in- and here I am.

2.What are your go to materials when creating a new piece and how did you develop the Black Willow aesthetic?
There is an allure in the juxtaposition of objects so it was very natural for me to work with man made and naturally occurring objects. It also helped that when I began this venture I was broke but had various vintage chains to play with. I made my first piece this way, a very chunky various chain bracelet, and the aesthetic stuck. I enjoy seeing what can be made with a minimal amount of supplies and how creatively freeing it can be. It's like the idea of a uniform- where one can see it as a barrier to free expression another can see it as personally liberating. With that being said I over accessorize to the max in dress and, well, any friend of mine could tell you just how 'busy' my house looks. Ooph!

3. So far, we can find Black Willow Jewelry at Cavern and Feather's Boutique. Where else would you love to sell your work?

I am so lucky to be at those amazing stores! The new line at Cavern is so beautiful- there is a pair of high waisted hand dyed pants I am in need of! and Feathers Boutique speaks for itself- the best of the best vintage at reasonable prices and sweet ladies there to help you style it all! At the risk of sounding dorky or pretentious I would really love to sell in a museum setting. The Getty and MOMA have a constant flow of beautiful jewelry and I am envious that in the description it will say 'jewelry by artist blah blah blah'. Artist! Ugh, I would love for my pieces to be viewed in that heightened light. Not to mention I could say my pieces have been in the same buildings that held Man Ray! What a trip! 

4. Where do you find your inspiration? Is there a particular hour that you find yourself the most creative?
I love the sea, organic forms, Ernst Haeckels Art Forms in Nature is truly inspiring, ephemerality, movement, music, my dog, animals, love, great friends, and cheese. I love cheese! All those things and an endless glass of wine and I'll see ya never :)!
I think I work best in the early morning when it is so quiet I feel like I am the only person on earth. That or late evening pre dinner and post walk w/the pooch.

5. Out of everything that you have created, do you have a single favorite or a few favorites?
Hmmm a favorite, they are all my leetle children, but my new favorite would be the raw amethyst medallion and my old favorite would be the shark teeth amulet. The future holds more raw gemstones as well as rings!! I just took a metal casting course, so I am designing pieces based on this new alchemic knowledge!

6. Who are a few artists/creators that you look up to?
Having worked in fashion, I always admired the avant-garde designers like Hussein Chalayan. His pieces are like advanced math problems on the runway-crazy complicated! I've always loved DADA and Surrealists, Joseph Cornell in particular. I was inspired by how he works-taking the ordinary and placing it in a different context therefore changing and doubling the meaning. I based my entire thesis on this concept in college and whoa, it made my brain spin! And who can't be inspired by the love lorn, sarcastic ramblings of that dirty old man Bukowski! Where Leonard Cohen claims women," told me again you preferred handsome men, but for me you would make an exception ", Bukowski actually lived it! Come on Leonard, we all know you were a babe in your day!

7. Do you watch any movies or listen any music while you work?
Yes! I have a fully committed musical household, right up to my dog Wilkie and his properly tuned howls. I love Dead Meadow, you just can't get more psychedelic than that, some oldies like Stevie Nicks, the Queen Witch herself, and who can be mad when they are listening to ELO??!!! I mean really! Not me or my BFF- hey lade! The list is endless...
As far as movies go I tend to watch horror-the old black and whites, 70's and yes, even the new admittedly awful ones. Oops!

8. Where are you currently living? Have you always lived there or do enjoy moving around?
I currently live in L.A. and have been for the past 9 years or so. I've always been a California girl. It's hard to move away when I feel I have every climate within a stones throw of each other. The desert, the mountains, the beach, the forest- mother nature really got it right when she put this place together. So when I do travel I tend to take camping trips w/just my guy and dog or group trips w/friends. However, I do have a Guanajuato, Mexico trip planned for Thanksgiving! It's known for its accidental mummies and my great great grandmother on my moms side is from there so really it's a double whammy filled exploratory vacation!

9. Other than making Jewelry, what else do you like to do? Any crazy/odd/normal hobbies in your spare time?
I have my regular hobbies of gardening and knitting, anything crafty that requires use of my hands. I did just take up playing the harmonium and considering I had an awful experience w/stage fright in the 6th grade it's a fairly big accomplishment that I have been able to preform in front of people without barfing. It's been fun! It's such a somber and melancholy instrument I feel a bit like I should have a pet monkey holding a tip jar sitting upon it as I play. ha ha
I also recently made puppets for  a music video that we completed a few weeks back. It's hilarious and I may have found a new career in doing so. The idea was inspired by the Muppet Show and as soon as it premieres I'll let you know.

10. Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I looove animals so be sure to spay and neuter your pets! Adopt and don't support puppy mills!
and thank you to the ladies at mucho mucho bueno bueno for this and your interest!
See ya at the dog park!

 Don't you just love this rad lady?
Stop by her Etsy Shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/blackwillowjewelry
Keep up with her shop on the ol' Facebook too