Hi! I'm Jenna. But you can call me Tinker.
This is me, the metalsmithing guru with a soft spot for storytelling:
So you've come to read my story. For me, the stories always start with memories.
My first memory is of metal. I'd just turned four and was on the catwalk at the steel mill where my father worked. We were high above the "hot strip" when a giant slab of glowing red iron below enthralled my young imagination. That bright spark lit the creative fire. Throughout my youth, I spent countless hours making art and cultivating a unique style. The moment I first held a torch, watching the silver turn a vivid cherry red at my own hand, I knew I would become a metalsmith.
Long before I made jewelry, I was already a storyteller. Whether telling tales about family members around the campfire or sharing stories and inside jokes with friends in the school cafeteria, I saw the power in creating shared histories with those around me. Remembering someone's favorite something. Recounting moments long-forgotten by others. My brain was an encyclopedia filled with all of our collective memories.
It had never occurred to me that this vault of information within me might not always be reliable.
Until, that is, someone close to me was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. A disease that literally steals your memories from you, slowly emptying the vault.
It's hard to watch the details disappearing and be helpless to stop it. But there were trinkets that would trigger a memory, followed by moments of clarity. The name "Cracker Jack" would be gone, but the smile at the sight of a silly prize at the bottom of a snack box was the same as it had been hundreds of times before. In these moments I realized something: it's not actually the singular events in our lives we need to cherish, or even remember. We don't need a ripped piece of paper leftover from a bad movie tucked in a box somewhere. It's more important to have a reminder of the simple everyday things we do. A reminder of those places and people we've connected with over and over. A physical reminder of the feelings you want to carry with you.
And so, inventing fun kinetic pieces was no longer enough for me. I wanted my jewelry to be something more than a pretty finishing touch to an outfit. I wanted it to have meaning. To represent something. To tell a story. To spark a memory. And hopefully a smile!
Of course, I can't do this all alone. I need what you bring to the story. How you connect your own memories to a piece. There's just this unpredictable magic that occurs in that space between the person who made something and the person who wears it. And I love making jewelry for that moment, that story. Your story.
What don't you want to forget? How can I help you remember?