Meet a Maker: Tegan Wallace

Tegan Wallace

Meet Tegan Wallace, a Seattle-based jewelry maker, designer, and teacher.

Tegan Wallace and her son photographed with Melissa Cameron's "1.1.2017" pieces.
Tegan Wallace and her son photographed with Melissa Cameron’s work 1.1.2017.

The relationship between Contemporary Craft and Wallace started with 2017 Raphael Founder’s Prize winner Melissa Cameron’s work, 1.1.2017, which?was on view in?Transformation 10:?Contemporary Works In Found Materials. 1.1.2017?is a collection of jewelry commenting on gun violence in today’s society with a photography component featuring the jewelry pieces on volunteer models. The photo of Wallace and her son wearing 1.1.2017 was picked as the feature image of the?Transformation 10?exhibition.

When the staff at Contemporary Craft did more research on Cameron’s 1.1.2017 project, we found out Wallace is also a talented jewelry maker! After checking out Wallace’s work online, we immediately fell in love with her work. You can find and purchase her work at Contemporary Craft!

Wallace’s current work combines polymer and silver, metalsmithing and graphic design. By working in black, white, silver, and sometimes a “pop of color”, Wallace creates a crisp, clean pattern without getting distracted. Read on to find out more about Wallace’s artistic journey and the inspiration behind her work.

Tegan Wallace earringsHow is your artistic background?
Tegan Wallace (TW): I began jewelry making and metalsmithing in high school, at age 15. I was fortunate to have a neighbor who was a goldsmith and had the opportunity to work for her throughout school. Despite finding my passion early on, I pursued 2 advanced degrees in totally different fields. However, I kept returning to metalworking through workshops, internships, apprenticeship, and tons of personal trial and error. I made the leap to be a full-time working artist eight years ago and have never been happier!

What is your favorite material to work with in jewelry making?
TW: Sterling silver! I’ve had a number of styles over the years, but have always fabricated my work in silver.

What is your creative thought process?
TW: I still get excited every time I sit down at the jeweler’s bench, so my thought process is often a bit frenetic. I try to have a list of projects to work on, but sometimes when an idea pops into my head, I had to stop what I was doing and and make it.

Tegan Wallace hammeringWhere does your inspiration come from?
TW: I am really drawn to elements of minimalism and mid-century modern design, as well as Joan Miro’s paintings and Yayoi Kusama’s sculptures. I’m also an obsessive doodler and spend a lot of time filling up pages with shapes until I find something I like.

What are the challenges you had in your artistic journey?
TW: For a long time, my biggest challenge was accepting that art was a viable career path. It was so hard to let go of having a stable day job, even if that job made me miserable. Now a days, I not only make jewelry, I also teach, edit artist statements for others, do work-for-hire computer graphic design jobs, and develop other product design. Keeping all of these things on track, plus taking care of my kids (one of them is 2.5 and the other is 5 now) is a whole other kind of challenge, but it’s an absolute privilege to do what I love.

Tegan Wallace pendantsWhat do you do to de-stress?
TW: Punk rock, turned waaaaaaaay up. Also, dance parties with my kids.

What would you like Contemporary Craft followers to know about you?
TW: I love to tell people how fortunate I was to grow up on a little island near Seattle, in a community that valued art. Working artists were my friends and neighbors. From that experience, I realized that being an artist is hard work, but also as normal a career path as law, medicine, or finance. This experience has been invaluable to me.

You can find more of Tegan Wallace’s work on her instagram: @teganwallace_design!