My name is Nicolette Tallmadge. I am a mixed media jeweler and have been making jewelry for about 14 years. I started my company, Mixed Media Designs, about 7 years ago.
I developed an interest in jewelry making shortly after graduating from high school. My early pieces were experiments in a variety of different materials. Beadwork, wire weaving, polymer clay, and fused glass encompassed the variety of materials and techniques that were used in creating my jewelry pieces. The first pieces were bulky and sculptural, more experiments of form and material, rather than actual functional jewelry pieces. An eternal experimenter, I was more interested in the process of jewelry making rather than the materials. Creating jewelry out of paper came from a natural extension of experimentation.
My work received a new dimension when I worked on a bachelor’s degree in fine art. With concentration on jewelry and metalworking, I learned the basics of soldering, sawing, casting, and stone setting. While I enjoyed metalworking, I found that I used my metalworking skills to augment my mixed media method of creating jewelry. My entry into my business occurred in the summer of 1997 when the buyer of the Library of Virginia approached me for creating some custom made jewelry for their gift shop.
A common misconception about my paper jewelry is that it is too fragile for everyday use. Some people feel that paper is too common of a material compared to “real” jewelry materials like precious metal and gemstones. After all, paper is something you see every day, in the home, in the office or just blowing down the street in the wind. The papers that I use in the majority of my jewelry are rag papers or hand made Japanese papers, which are made to withstand watercolors and screen printing and are used in interior decoration, furniture, and storage. When rolled into beads or coated acrylic sealant, these papers exhibit amazing strength. What excites me about paper is its incredible versatility. It can be painted, folded, molded, and layered with other materials to create effects that are impossible to achieve in any other material. When combined with metals or gems, there is a wonderful interplay between texture and color that is totally unique and exciting.