Joanna Gollberg is a marvelous studio jeweler in Asheville, North Carolina. Joanna has taught workshops and classes for schools and metalsmithing groups around the world, and her work has been exhibited in leading galleries around the United States. She has an A.A.S. in jewelry design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Joanna just published her fourth book, The Ultimate Jeweler’s Guide, a comprehensive reference book for jewelers.
How would you describe your jewelry design aesthetic or sensibility, Joanna? And how else does that sensibility show up in your life?
In my jewelry career, I am all over the place. In my home, my decorations vary from handmade, hand-stitched cloth from India to plastic toys from Target.
I love to make all kinds of jewelry, and I do not want to limit myself by only making one kind. This is not good for my business—in that my work may not always look the same from year to year—but it is good for my soul and level of happiness.
How did you get your start, and why did jewelry become your artistic medium of choice?
My grandmother was an enamellist. She gave me her enameling equipment and tools when I was 19, and so I took an enameled jewelry class at Penland School of Crafts.
There are so many things I love about jewelry: Jewelry is small. You can wear it. Other people get to see it. Jewelry can be fun.
Making jewelry also gives me a lifetime of learning. There are constant challenges and rewards.
What advice do you have for artists interested in becoming studio jewelers?
Work hard and persevere.
What are some significant trends you’re noticing in jewelry design?
I’m definitely seeing lots of circles and ovals! I saw two people walk by me within five minutes today both wearing polished 22-inch necklaces made of interlocking circles and ovals.
Here’s the rapid-fire part. What’s your favorite …
… dessert? Cookie—chocolate chip
… season? Fall & spring
… board game? Scrabble
… piece of clothing? Shoes—wedge heeled
… magazine? Vanity Fair
… museum? Museum of Arts and Design in NYC
… TV show? Weeds
… book? Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
… jewelry-related website? www.charonkransenarts.com
… vacation spot? India!
What do you get out of the book-writing process, Joanna, and how does making books compare with teaching classes?
When I write a book, I feel like I am writing a term paper, and I try really hard to get an A! I also am so aware that a book is a team process, and I do not want to let down my other team members—my editor, photographer, creative director, etc.
I like having information to share. It makes me feel good to have the answers. I love making jewelry so much, and I love being able to share that information with other people, in the hope that they will also find a way to feel fulfilled in their creative lives. I also love writing books for Lark, because the people I get to work with are so fabulous.
One thing I don’t get from writing books, but that I do get from teaching, is having the chance to work one on one with people, see what they need, and help provide them with options for the best way to accomplish specific tasks. Offering in-person feedback also helps me do the best I can in teaching a specific individual. Everyone learns differently, and books can help so much, but there’s nothing like a small classroom to really help an individual learn.
What’s surprised you most about your career, Joanna?
That I cannot imagine not being able to do it. That I love it as deeply as I do.