December 3, 2022

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Receiving to Know: Elyse Tolles

Elyse Tolles is a one-lady present — a designer of artful jewellery
and a former flutist. The female, ethereal items in her line
of polymer clay-based mostly jewellery, Elysian Concept, are impressed
by classical mythology and the Elysian Fields, a heavenly place
conceived by the historic Greeks.

Tolles produced the line in 2015 as “a artistic outlet from her
innovative outlet,” which at the time was a higher-pressure master’s
system in new music general performance at Florida Point out University. As a
classical musician, she just about concluded a doctorate, but pivoted
to concentrate on her jewellery whole time.    

Growing up in Prescott, Arizona, Tolles was fascinated by
gemology. She was immersed in the art of jewelry design via
expending time at a custom-design and style high-quality jewelry retail store the place her
mom labored. She took her arms-on experience a stage even further
with a high university sculpture course that included mosaics and
ceramics. Now, as a substitute of working with traditional elements like
ceramics or gems, she molds polymer clay into personalized designs,
mixing in various media these types of as freshwater pearls and beads she
sculpts and polishes to a significant shine. 

The polymer clay fad has hit a fever pitch in the latest years —
its accessibility and affordability tends to make it a popular medium for
burgeoning designers — but Tolles’ early adoption, craftsmanship,
and distinct point of look at have granted her recognition in the
space. She presently has a collaboration with countrywide apparel
and life-style retailer Anthropologie,
and previously partnered with
Michaels Suppliers
, which sells jewellery kits that contain
resources to make Tolles’ terrazzo-inspired earrings.

For Tolles, the joy of jewelry generating is in producing special,
handmade pieces that do not essentially show up handmade. Producing
every single piece is a exercise in balancing wabi-sabi,
or the aesthetic acceptance of imperfection, with a substantial level of
execution. Her designs contain a thorough, extensive course of action:
pigmenting the polymer material, mixing the hues, then
sculpting, sanding, buffing, sprucing and assembling each individual piece.
“I’ve in fact consciously tried using to devote much less time on factors,
but I just type of just cannot feel to get myself to do that,” she

Tolles made her way to California in 2017 for her husband’s
vocation as a qualified musician in the army. The pair moved
from Davis to Sacramento in 2018 so she could “meet other young
folks that weren’t school learners.” (Immediately after 8 years of
college examine, she’d experienced her fill of school towns). Because
settling into a studio house at the imaginative coworking collective
With each other Midtown, she
feels far more a aspect of the maker community and equipped to execute each
aspect of her organization, from creating to advertising

The resourceful inspiration guiding Elysian Concept:
It is sort of like going for walks the line involving tender and female and
contemporary. Fusing modern design and style with individuals outdated-environment
aesthetics. A ton of my modern layouts in individual have been
truly motivated by pretty, very old jewellery, like historical Romans’
types and Byzantine jewellery. And then jewellery that’s affected
by classical art and paintings from the 1800s and that entire
aesthetic as effectively, which every person is, of training course, obsessed with
now (with the popularity of “Bridgerton” on Netflix). I truly feel like
my aesthetic has been like “Bridgerton” vibes very long just before it was
a issue.

On locating her inventive medium: I’ve constantly been
a crafty particular person and have dabbled in rather a lot every diverse
craft medium. Even though I don’t like creating that distinction
involving artwork and craft frequently mainly because I discover that it’s generally
kind of sexist. Artwork tends to be like the issues that adult males do, and
craft tends to be the factors that females do. … I never know what
it is specifically about operating with clay, but I’ve often
relished it because it’s truly tactile. The tactile knowledge is
quite attractive to me and not a total lot of other artwork mediums
have that. (Getting to wear the ultimate products) is a moreover. I signify,
I’ve generally liked style and extras and all that

On needing a inventive outlet from my resourceful
I was genuinely burned out in grad university and just
essential to have a passion once more. It’s kind of pessimistic to appear at
it this way, but going to artwork faculty for nearly anything sort of kills
your capacity to delight in it. Just since you are good at a thing
doesn’t mean you should do it professionally and make it your
profession. Despite the fact that lately, I have certainly started out to skip
(generating audio) additional. I want to appear back again to it but in a diverse
ability, like just take classes on an additional instrument so I can just
have enjoyment with it. 

Elyse Tolles launched her jewelry line in 2015.

On turning out to be an Etsy results story, and breaking out on
her personal:
 I was on Etsy and working with that
as my key providing platform by 2018. I obtained in at the
ideal time, both of those with Etsy and also with staying a maker who
mostly uses polymer clay as a medium. I was staying promoted by
Etsy and becoming showcased by them relatively on a regular basis. They would
characteristic my goods in their e-mail blasts, and I got a large amount of
traffic from that. They highlighted me in one particular of their present guides.
I was in 1 of their New York Metropolis subway adverts. They did a total
major element on my store the place they wrote a web site post about me, and
I did a takeover of the Etsy Instagram account for a working day and all
this things. And (in 2019) they had their initial intercontinental
structure opposition, and
I was a finalist.

And so I’ve gotten all of these points from Etsy as a consequence of
getting on their platform. They gave me a great deal in return for becoming
on their platform. But at this position, I have transitioned off of
it. I like owning additional command in excess of the shopper encounter (through
my personal site) and the capability to build more robust model

Elevating the medium — getting polymer clay from summer time
camp vibes to vogue-ahead:
The bar for entry (to
polymer clay jewelry layout) is pretty low. It is not expensive. You
really don’t require unique gear to use it. You never need to have any
specific machines at all for it. 

So it’s form of a double-edged sword because it is incredibly
available, but then on the other hand, it’s experienced these
associations with being incredibly kitschy and crafty and a children’s
summer season camp craft type of a vibe, or old women creating like
actually tacky, like, beads and things. So it is type of been on a single
of those people serious ends of the spectrum. That’s what the name
has been for this medium for a extended time. Now it’s so broken into
this whole new sphere, which is amazing. 

A human technique to sustainability and
If there is anybody generating polymer clay out
to be (a sustainable material), it’s greenwashing. There is a large amount
of miscommunication and misunderstanding about it, mainly because
there is been such a enormous explosion of new makers and it’s gotten
so preferred and stylish. 

Polymer clay is not the most sustainable content. Like, it’s
plastic. Even applying the phrase “clay” is sort of a misnomer. It’s
the very same sort of plastic they use to make seashore balls and little one
dolls and vinyl data and PVC pipes. It’s a variety of vinyl.

But even although you may not use a product that is the most
sustainable, there’s the human sustainability aspect exactly where your
business practices can be sustainable and moral. I’m shelling out
myself properly for my time. I’m reusing all of the waste
every time probable. Simply because the substance really isn’t sustainable,
you sort of have to do no matter what you can to make up for it in
other strategies.

What it is like to associate with national way of living brand
I experienced in fact been form of in
collaboration with Anthropologie a few of periods right before, and it
ended up not functioning out, which was form of challenging and I had to
procedure all of that. So when they contacted me all over again, I was in a
pretty neutral mindset about it, which is an ideal area to

It’s unquestionably exciting. They put a acquire buy for six
types — 4 of my signature assortment types and two from my
more recent selection. I never know how several other artists they’ve
worked with in a wholesale ability where by it actually is just a single
individual. So that felt like probably a discovering curve for them
(buying more than was attainable for me as the sole designer),
but we finished up settling on a quantity that was doable.

Coworking for productivity: (Early on), I was
working out of our spare bedroom (in Davis), and I was beginning
to have a truly really hard time separating work from household stuff
mentally. We started out preparing to shift to Sacramento, and I knew
(floral designer of Oak + Ash) Jessica Miller
was transferring out of her studio area at With each other
. I was super energized about it. So I moved in there
and it’s been amazing. 

I have to in fact be leaving the household and going someplace or
else I simply cannot get in that get the job done mentality. When I go (to Together)
and I have to do the job, I’ll just place my headphones on and participate in white
noise or new music to get in the zone. At times there are
interruptions, but I favor it to functioning from dwelling.

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