Many people have the urge to break things from time to time, maybe even more so during the holiday season. But did you ever think of making a living by breaking dishes?
The unbelievably creative Juliet Ames of The Broken Plate did and she’s been breaking plates since 2006. That’s quite the run for a job that doubles as fun stress relief. Here we discussed with Julia how breaking a plate to make a mosaic turned into a creative small jewelry business.
Just B More: So how in the world did you get the fantastic idea to break plates for a living and then turn it into jewelry? Did you make other jewelry before or was this your first go?
Juliet Ames: I started as a photography major in community college but when my credits didn’t transfer (because of the death of the darkroom) I realized that my quickest path to graduation was by getting an Interdisciplinary Craft Degree from Towson University. I took an odd mix of classes to learn all sorts of different materials such as glass, paper, ceramics and metals. I spent most of my time in the metals studio. Upon graduation, I didn’t make anything for about six months when the creative bug struck and I spent a weekend in the basement, manically making myself a mosaic mailbox out of an old plate that I bought at Goodwill. When the project was complete, I still had so many pretty shards leftover that I decided to make them necklaces. The rest, they say, is history.
JBM: So how long has this been your small business? Have you always been a small business owner?
JA: This company began in 2006, but I have been making and selling my own jewelry and photography since high school. I even managed to earn the “Most Likely to be a Millionaire” superlative in high school, but unfortunately I don’t think selling jewelry is the path to that. Maybe my next business.
JBM: Where do you get the inspiration for your pieces? Do you have a favorite collection? (Mine is of course the Pyrex!)
JA: I’m usually inspired by the pattern of the plate, but lately I have been really enjoying just using simple stained glass. Since I make so much jewelry, I am finding most pleasure in making some self-indulgent art with my shards, like the map of the US or animal shapes.
JBM: Do you have any fun stories from the business?
JA: I was honored to be invited to have a solo show in Hong Kong last year. I initially thought the invite had to be a prank, but I took a chance and traveled across the world to show my work. It was an incredible experience to be treated like a pop star for a few days. They even built me a plate breaking stage and massive broken teacup for photo ops.
JBM: What do you love most about what you do?
JA: I love the creative process and assembling all of my pieces.
JBM: Do you think this will be your “forever job” or do you see something else on the horizon?
JA: This is my forever job for now. I will never get rich doing this, but I can work in my pajamas and be there for my boy after school. They only other thing I am half qualified for is maybe being a line cook, but even that would probably kick my ass.
JBM: Now that you mention it, don’t you have a cookbook?
JA: Yes, I made a cookbook last year. Will have some at Holiday Heap and in my Etsy shop.
JBM: It’s the holiday season, how can people get their hands on some plate jewelry for gifts (or to treat themselves)?
JA: Email is best for firstname.lastname@example.org
My Etsy shop is www.thebrokenplate.etsy.com
My only holiday show is Holiday Heap with the Charm City Craft Mafia on December 16th at 2640 St Paul Street.
Art on display at Silver Queen Cafe until January.
Studio visits by appointment.
JBM: Thanks so much for speaking with us!
JA: Thanks for the opportunity!