Artist: Amy E. Fraser
Business Name: Exalted Beauty
Website and blog:
Amy E. Fraser
How do you describe your work, Amy?
I would describe the Exalted Beauty Medallions as exuberant, fun and funky, boldly beautiful with a charismatic personality, just like the Exalted Beauties who wear them!The name of my business was inspired by the beautiful women in my painting series entitled EXALTED BEAUTY. Each Exalted Beauty Medallion is an Amy E. Fraser One-Of-A-Kind Original sculpture. The medallions range in a wide variety of styles and techniques. They are hand painted with acrylic glazes or made with colored polymer clays that have been specially mixed with my *secret* formula, creating gorgeous luminescent color. Some medallions also contain added materials such as Swarovski crystals, glass, metal and seed beads, as well as archival prints (of my own work) and resin. Each Exalted Beauty Medallion collection has its own unique theme and style.
The primary goal of both my painting and jewelry has always been to create meaningful work for and about women that celebrates their inner and outer beauty: to inspire and empower women. It probably sounds corny but the medallions are my small way of trying to make a difference for womankind, one woman at a time. Each piece is unique, created as a means to celebrate individuality and to encourage self expression. I make the medallions with my friends and family in mind so each piece I present is meaningful and made with the utmost care. Many of the women who wear my medallions light up as they share the stories of the conversations the medallions started. Often it is a fleeting moment, a quick, shy comment about the medallion from a passing stranger, but sometimes it’s those unexpected positive human interactions that can really make someone’s day. Wearing an Exalted Beauty Medallion says something about the individual, it says she’s brave and adventurous and has an appreciation for art and life. Sometimes in this busy world it’s nice to be reminded that we exist to others and that we are noticed, that we matter. I can not express how much it means to me to be able to share a piece of myself with others while also doing a little something to generate a positive energy that helps to increase self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth in women.
What is your creative process like?
Since early childhood I have always been someone who *makes things*. There has never been a question to my identity as artist, nor has there been a material/medium that I have come across that I didn’t attempt to turn into art. I am eternally optimistic about bending materials to my whims and visions. My mind is in a constant state of processing emotions and visions and translating them into art. In all things I am a thinker, a philosopher, a dreamer, and a creator. Life is my creative process. I have a voracious appetite for information. Inspiration comes to me in many forms; art, art history, my wildflower meadow, my family and friends, my animals, cooking, reading, movies and walks in the woods. Mother Nature is my primary muse but anything can inspire my creative thoughts. I often imagine my brain as a giant computer that I am able to plug in as many diverse sources of inspiration as I wish and as often as possible. This constant intellectual feeding keeps my work current and continually evolving but I always remain true to myself and my personal visual language.
My physical creative process (when I actually sit down to work), happens in the wee hours of the morning while my son is asleep. I usually fit in 40-60 hours a week and most of that work time is spent in silence (with the intention of keeping my son sleeping as long as possible). With my paintings I tend to conceptualize a bit more and do a lot of sketching and reworking before I commit to a final piece. But with the jewelry I feel freer to experiment and let the subconscious take over. When starting a new medallion collection, I usually have a few guidelines, like a predetermined color palette (that I have mixed and selected based on current/seasonal fashion trends) as well as a general design concept or theme. Overall, I just allow myself to *get in the zone*, and let the medallions flow. I never know how they will turn out (until it’s too late).
What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I have had absolutely no formal training as a jeweler. My training is in Fine Art. I have a BFA in Illustration with a minor in Art History from Parsons School of Design as well as a Masters in Liberal Arts from Dartmouth College with an independent study focus on painting. In other words, I’m trained to think creatively with words and concepts and translate them into a 2 dimensional visual form. However, I feel that these skills easily translate to create art jewelry from a fresh perspective.
How did you transition from creating jewelry to selling jewelry?
I started my jewelry making business shortly after we moved into our new house in October of 2005. I was in the midst of working on my Exalted Beauty series when we moved. Our new house was a live in it while you build it situation so I wasn’t able to have a painting studio in the way I was previously accustomed for quite some time. Continuing the Exalted Beauty series was out of the question. One day I began digging around in the basement in the guise of *unpacking* and came across a large sampler set of polymer clay in a box of art supplies. At the time I was desperately in need of a creative outlet and still deeply immersed in the Exalted Beauty concept so it was a natural evolution for the polymer clay to become jewelry that reflected (and was inspired by the designs I created for) my Exalted Beauties. It basically just started out as an activity to keep my creative juices flowing while my son played with his play dough. That is until my Mother-In-Law stopped by and fell in love with the first batch and suggested that her co-workers would also love to buy them. And so it began. My Mother-In-Law, my friend Lynn and my husband became the first Exalted Beauty Representatives and they started having *On-The-Job-Exhibitions* for me. Other friends participated as well and pretty soon the medallions became so popular people began to request home parties. The home parties were quite successful so I continued to make collection after collection (after collection) and eventually the medallions got picked up by some retailers and I also expanded into on-line sales. A year and a half and 1,600 medallions later, I still haven’t unpacked!
Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
My imagination! I don’t have a single professional jewelry or sculpting tool (not even a pasta machine).
What inspires you to create?
Everything. I have always had an abundance of ideas, combined with an obsessive drive, desire and ambition; so one has no choice but to create. I wouldn’t be me if I couldn’t express myself through art. The creation of art is what has always defined and fulfilled me.
What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Art is my therapy so the more frustration I have, the more art I produce.
What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Keep working. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Follow your passion. True passion will lead you in the right direction. Most importantly, do not listen to anyone who is not already successful in the field that you would like to become a success in.
What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My Family. I am a full time work at home wife and mother with a 4 year old wild monkey child and a very patient and supportive husband. We are very close so most of our free time is spent together as a family. The past few years we have invested a lot of our free time on home improvement projects. We seem to have traded *socializing* for hard labor. However, creating and designing every aspect of our house/land from the ground up has been a rewarding labor of love and something we are all very proud of.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
I think I have developed a secret fantasy of being this old fashioned grandmother type who always has something baking in the oven and has fabulous smells wafting from the kitchen. I cook roasts, create elaborate sauces and bake every week. Most of my friends are baffled by me, it’s hard for them to imagine the mighty feminist slaving over a hot stove (in fact, the image takes me by surprise as well), but cooking is another creative outlet for me and it satisfies my emotional need to create a home environment that is warm and nurturing.
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