Bird Trouble is pleased to have Chicago jewelry designer and maker, Ana Brazaityte of Truss and Ore, as our Rad + Wild Feature for the month of August!
First, lets get to know Ana.
Hey Ana! Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and where you reside now.
Hey Alexz! Thanks for having me, glad to be a part of this series. A bit about me – I am a jewelry designer, metalsmith and photographer. I love my two weird cats, my motorcycle, craft beers, dancing, and traveling. Originally from Lithuania, I moved to the States when I was nine and have lived in Chicago for the past eight years, currently in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
What does a typical day in the life of Ana look like?
Aside from my jewelry business, I also work at a photography gallery in Chicago’s River North four days per week, so those days are usually pretty routine. Otherwise, my days are always different, which keeps things exciting! I dedicate a few evenings a week just to creating new pieces, either from home or the metals studio nearby. The rest of my free time fills up with some more studio work, sourcing new materials or inspiration, selling at pop up markets or street fests, photographing products and updating online sites, a date night or brunch with my wonderfully supportive boyfriend, and some quality time with close friends. It somehow all fits in. Haha.
What style of wardrobe can I find if I played in your closet?
In general, a lot of black and neutrals, classic patterns, with some embellished and lacy tops. But I don’t know if I could pin-point one specific style – I find it amusing that sometimes I go from wearing a long chiffon summer dress one day to a motorcycle or band tee, black jeans, and boots the next.
Where do you want to take your creativity to in next 5 years?
Definitely to a more full time endeavour. I’ve started the process of transitioning into creative work as my full time focus, and I’m really excited about this journey! I hope to try new things when it comes to working with metal as well. Maybe larger scale pieces, welding, forging, who knows!
What are your ultimate favorite places you’ve traveled to and how does traveling inspire you?
Last summer, I was ecstatic to go back to Lithuania to visit. There is so much nature there and I am completely in my element swimming in a lake in the middle of a huge forest. These copper pendants I have made recently are somewhat abstract designs inspired by tree bark. Amber is also really popular in Lithuania and I have been working with amber to make some large brass rings as well. I really loved Paris too. I think everything about that city inspired a great creative energy in me.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
I have so many artistic and talented friends, it’s so great to always have someone to collaborate with in different ways. My friends Petya Shalamanova and Lenny Gilmore worked with me on a beautiful lookbook for Truss & Ore. I can’t wait to work with Petya on another shoot!
What songs or bands are you currently playing on repeat?
Deap Vally is getting me really pumped right now! Bass Drum of Death is at the top of my list recently too. Tame Impala, The Dig, and Dan Croll when I’m in the mood for something a little more mellow.
Now lets talk about your current project, Truss and Ore.
When did you start your line, Truss and Ore?
I have been doing metalwork since 2011, but started Truss & Ore just about a year ago. It’s still pretty young and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me!
Have you always wanted to make jewelry?
Now that I think back, I remember making my own necklaces with strings and beads and safety pins when I was in elementary school! I never thought of it as a possible career when I was growing up though. I was in school at Columbia College for photography, and when I took an introductory metalworking class as an elective, I fell in love with it. So it is only recently that I have embraced the idea of having a less “conventional” career in the arts and it’s a great feeling.
What was the first piece you made for Truss and Ore?
I believe it was this large, abstract organic shape as a pendant made of brass. It was very different, a statement piece for sure.
Has your techniques or inspiration for your line changed since your first piece?
Definitely. I have been working with metal for a couple years now but there is always more to learn. I am always working to improve my technique. And recently, I am moving a little away from the completely natural elements I draw inspiration from toward finding aesthetic designs through sacred geometry and ratios as well.
Describe your design process. Does it start with a sketch, or do you just go for it?
It can be a bit of both. I make sketches for pendants and cuffs that are a bit more intricate in their design, move to making them out of metal, and sometimes make some adjustments as I’m doing so. Sometimes, though, I find gemstones that I can immediately picture on a cuff or ring and jump right to making part. It can be really fun to jump right in and experiment along the way!
What do you and Truss and Ore like about Chicago?
The art community is really great. There is this sense of small town within Chicago as so many people are interconnected in the art world.
Do you have any plans for Truss and Ore in the next year? How about in the next few years?
Creating, creating, creating! I definitely would like to travel more and bring Truss & Ore to a wider audience. In the next year or two, get down to business with wholesale to different retailers. Overall though, just getting my hands dirty in the studio.
Will you be at any events with your designs soon?
My friend and I are also putting on a pop up market with some great local artisans and vintage vendors on August 10th. We call it the Gypsy Market and it’s out of her storefront space in Logan Square.
photos: Petya Shalamanova