This Woman Has the DIY Job That You’ve Always Dreamed of
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This Woman Has the DIY Job That You’ve Always Dreamed of

Does your dream world involve beautiful blooms popping out of every corner of your home? Backdrops made up of peachy peonies, darling dahlias and other such buds? Well, you’re not alone. And guess what? All of your paper flower dreams are about to come true. We’ve got a brand new online class up on Brit.co today. Introducing DIY Paper Flowers, taught by Jessica Pezalla of Bramble Workshop! Read all about the class here, and scroll on to learn all about this dreamy maker.

A classically trained artist and sculptor, Portland-based Jessica spends her days creating one-of-a kind retail displays, event decor and custom art installation. She’s designed for Hermès, Target and Anthropologie. Basically, she makes pretty things for a living, and yes, it’s basically her dream job. She works in a wide range of mediums, but always tends to gravitate toward paper and textiles.

I spent an afternoon with Jessica at Flora Grubb (aka the floral mecca of San Francisco) and chatted about what inspires her, what it’s like to have a job that involves creating art every single day and what she does when she’s not making insanely beautiful things. Oh, and we found out that we both spent a year as artists-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center, a small artists’ residency program in the middle of nowhere in Northern Vermont. Talk about a crazy coincidence! Now, let’s meet this maker.

What inspires you? Why do you love to design, create and make?

I’m most inspired by the natural world and depend on hiking and camping to recharge and give me energy for my studio work. I also love working with other people and find inspiration in collaboration, with both clients and fellow makers.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?

Set aside time for photography of every single project, even if it will be professionally photographed. Document your work with as much care and consideration as you put into making it.

Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.

Instagram has been an amazing tool for connecting me with other creatives and new clients. I love posting images of work in progress and feeling the support and encouragement of this community. In another sense, I think the prevalence of technology in today’s world has had the effect of creating more value for the hand-crafted, and that’s the foundation of my business.

What’s on your studio playlist?

I love listening to podcasts (“On Being” is my current favorite) and folk-y musicians such as Annalisa Tornfelt, Andrew Bird and Patrick Watson. The soundtrack of my studio practice definitely tends toward the peaceful and contemplative.

How do you get into the creative flow? How does it feel?

At this point it’s really easy for me to get into the creative flow — it’s my job! Usually it’s all about preparation (usually the day before) — buying materials, organizing the work space, setting out tools. When I’m creating something new I need to work alone, usually in the morning. I have the ritual of putting on my work apron and making tea. Then it’s just about letting go of distractions (Instagram!) and letting myself play and experiment. It’s usually a little slow-going at first, because of the pressure and worrying about a client’s expectations. But then I’ll stop worrying about coming up with a “great” idea and just relax into the process. After I have the initial idea, there’s a lot of experimentation with different materials, refining the process, and streamlining the workflow. I really love the problem-solving involved in this part of the process. I make a lot of prototypes before I pick the direction and can start directing other people in the production of the project.

What do you love about teaching people to make? And inspiring people who don’t think they are traditionally creative?

There are so many things that I love about teaching workshops! It’s exciting to teach a favorite craft and I’m always inspired by the originality of everyone’s creations. There’s a feeling of easy camaraderie and collaboration among the students. Spending a few hours crafting with a group of people is my idea of the perfect social event!

What is the story of how you got to where you are today?

I have always known I wanted to be an artist, but it’s taken some time to make that my career! I have a BA in art from Oberlin College and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2009, I spent a year in Vermont at the Vermont Studio Center artists residency program and was able to immerse myself completely in my art (mainly sculpture and installation.) After this amazing year I moved to LA and re-evaluated what I wanted to do with my life. I realized that I had to find a way to use my skills as an artist full time and that showing in galleries wasn’t the right path for me. I worked briefly at Anthropologie as a window display designer and this taught me the basic skills needed to start Bramble Workshop. My first job (and lucky break) was designing a window for Hermés, after being recommended by a friend. They took a chance on me and that window captured the attention of a creative director in Paris. We have been working together since. At the same time, I started creating custom event decor for the wedding design company Bash, Please. These two high-profile clients allowed me to start Bramble Workshop and tap into the niche market for hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind objects, decorations and installations. I’ve found a career that is the perfect blend of art, craft and design.

Be sure to sign up for Jessica’s DIY Paper Flowers Class to learn all about creating your own beautiful blooms. Happy making!