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Jill Garber

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My home is located in the countryside of Mid Michigan, where I live and manage every aspect of my business from my fifty-acre farm that has been in our family for two generations. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in Saginaw Township. My parents designed our California ranch-style home, the interior of which was constructed with knotty pine, fieldstone rockwork and copper. My mother was an artist who inspired an endless array of creative ideas and brought colorful dimension into our family life. My father was an automotive dealer and distributor for Buick who had a dreamer’s heart and the mind of an entrepreneur.

Jill Garber Materials

Art and creating provided a special magic to our life, which was built around our close-knit extended family of entrepreneurial thinkers who all shared rich core values of honesty and personal integrity. These things were the center of my universe.

With many cousins, I was the shy artist of my generation who preferred sitting on the floor of my bedroom creating things to socializing with friends. I did not see myself as fitting in to any mold or group and liked doing things in my own way. My artistic nature was often difficult for others to understand. As far back as I remember I could figure out how to make almost anything, and expressed myself perfectly through creating with my hands. This has been my life’s blessing. Creating beauty is simply what I was put here to do.

Jill Garber Portrait

As I create, my mind travels to a place my words cannot go. No one can go there but me.

I was always a combination of artist and entrepreneur who was self-motivated and comfortable doing things on my own. Taking after my father, most of my projects seemed to inspire ideas for a creative business. People often wanted me to make things for them, so I spent time working on ideas for things I could make to sell. This ability to think independently and use my artistic skills to earn my own money was always empowering to me!

Jill Garber Working

My first creative business endeavor was making sewing baskets to sell door to door in our neighborhood. I was well known by our neighbors as “Jilly, the little artist and flower girl.” Setting shyness aside, I put on my sparkling Marilyn Monroe-style rhinestone necklace and went door to door with my wares. I was seven years old. Without understanding it at the time, this was my first real epiphany. Just being myself, as I joyfully explained what was special about my baskets, was what sold my creations.

By high school, I was designing and restyling clothing but began to focus more seriously on jewelry after working with a retired Georg Jensen silversmith. I was very motivated, so with a $300.00 investment from my father I started my own hand-wrought sterling silver jewelry business in our garden shed. At that point, I knew that I wanted to be a jewelry designer but thought it wise to broaden my design skills, so I went on to study fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York.

As true for my entire life, creating is my absolute and continues to be the center of my daily universe. Each piece in my jewelry and clothing collection is meticulously handcrafted using the antique materials I love and have collected throughout my life. The most important things in my studio are my hands. They are my wings. Every beautiful thing I have ever seen, felt or touched contributes to my imagination

Jill Garber Dress Making

If my clothing is my heart, then surely my jewelry is my soul, for it reaches deep into the parts of me that first believed in my dream. Vivid three-dimensional images are alive in this secret place, and somehow without skipping a beat they communicate with my hands. I draw everything just as I see it in detail so I will not forget.

I am a hands-on artist who uses “old school” methods and processes. These include working with materials such as watercolor gouache, fine point artist’s pens, ruling pens, pencil and brush markers. My drawings are perfected in a layering process, which also allows me to ensure the originality of my designs. I begin with a rough sketch that I refine through additional drawings on transparent vellum. There can be an unlimited number of layers as I add or remove details while making adjustments to my design.

I have loved and collected antiques all my life, and each piece in my jewelry collection begins with an important antique element. Though I am known for using finely carved antique nineteenth-century cameos depicting gods or goddesses combined with natural stones like turquoise, I use many other antiquities that appeal to my sensibility and passion. These include angels, crosses, French paste, figural brooches, Sacred Heart medals, Venetian micro mosaic, miniature portraiture on porcelain or anything else that stimulates my artistic vision. Each of these treasures has a story to tell, and it is my reason d’etre to give them a new life and enhanced value for generations to come as wearable works of art.

Jill Garber Antique Necklaces

I am always in search of specific elements for my vision, but often find something unusual that inspires new design. The next step is gathering additional materials I need, including gemstones, then on to my process of physical layouts and renderings. Some of my jewelry collections combine materials from embroidered silk textiles, metallic stump work, ribbon applique or mother of pearl. All of these involve some version of my layering process. I am committed to originality, and there are many details involved in finalizing one piece—thus my methods can be very solitary and labor intensive. A finished piece can take weeks or even months.

All of my designs and creations are one of a kind, or limited edition. I want every garment or piece of jewelry to inspire and speak of the unique spirit and inner beauty of the wearer. The entire design process from conception to completion with entire jewelry and clothing collections begins and ends in my hands.

I saw the angel in the mirror and carved until I set him free. – Michelangelo

Each dress, jacket or accessory is also approached as wearable art. With dedication to heirloom fabrics and sewn with \ meticulous couture techniques—it is my hope that these pieces will be passed down and preserved for generations to come. There is no limit to the hand detailing or opulence of the beautiful materials I restore and use, along with the hand-embroidered Canton shawls that have become my trademark. Often combining these embroideries with fine vintage lace or silk velvet, my favorite signature pieces have the most amazing hand-woven silk fringes from the shawls.

My drawing process for jewelry also applies to each of the clothing designs. Sketching out details such as button applications, closures, piping, or seams, I then draft patterns while draping the fabrics I plan to use on a dress form. Each pattern is made with transparent material so I can plan exactly where every embroidered flower, leaf or ornament will fall in the garment. Any linings used are hand-tinted silk crepe de chine.

Jill Garber Antique Necklaces

For closures, I use new “old stock” mother of pearl buttons and all garments are sewn with silk or pure cotton thread. I personally plan all details for every garment, purse, hat, or belt in my collection. As with my jewelry, my illustrations and pattern drawings are saved and preserved.

Life has provided me with many experiences. They have added rich color, texture and dimension to my artist’s palette of ideas and dreams. So much grace has been extended to me as an artist, and having the ability to express myself as I share these artistic gifts with others is perhaps the greatest gift of all. I have only lived on this earth as an artist. I know no other way of living or being. To create beauty around me is like having a flame inside my heart that burns so brightly, no matter how dark the night—it allows me to see my way forward. It is my North Star.

My home is located in the countryside of Mid Michigan, where I live and manage every aspect of my business from my fifty-acre farm that has been in our family for two generations. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in Saginaw Township. My parents designed our California ranch-style home, the interior of which was constructed with knotty pine, fieldstone rockwork and copper. My mother was an artist who inspired an endless array of creative ideas and brought colorful dimension into our family life. My father was an automotive dealer and distributor for Buick who had a dreamer’s heart and the mind of an entrepreneur.

Jill Garber Materials

Art and creating provided a special magic to our life, which was built around our close-knit extended family of entrepreneurial thinkers who all shared rich core values of honesty and personal integrity. These things were the center of my universe.

With many cousins, I was the shy artist of my generation who preferred sitting on the floor of my bedroom creating things to socializing with friends. I did not see myself as fitting in to any mold or group and liked doing things in my own way. My artistic nature was often difficult for others to understand. As far back as I remember I could figure out how to make almost anything, and expressed myself perfectly through creating with my hands. This has been my life’s blessing. Creating beauty is simply what I was put here to do.

Jill Garber Portrait

As I create, my mind travels to a place my words cannot go. No one can go there but me.

I was always a combination of artist and entrepreneur who was self-motivated and comfortable doing things on my own. Taking after my father, most of my projects seemed to inspire ideas for a creative business. People often wanted me to make things for them, so I spent time working on ideas for things I could make to sell. This ability to think independently and use my artistic skills to earn my own money was always empowering to me!

Jill Garber Working

My first creative business endeavor was making sewing baskets to sell door to door in our neighborhood. I was well known by our neighbors as “Jilly, the little artist and flower girl.” Setting shyness aside, I put on my sparkling Marilyn Monroe-style rhinestone necklace and went door to door with my wares. I was seven years old. Without understanding it at the time, this was my first real epiphany. Just being myself, as I joyfully explained what was special about my baskets, was what sold my creations.

By high school, I was designing and restyling clothing but began to focus more seriously on jewelry after working with a retired Georg Jensen silversmith. I was very motivated, so with a $300.00 investment from my father I started my own hand-wrought sterling silver jewelry business in our garden shed. At that point, I knew that I wanted to be a jewelry designer but thought it wise to broaden my design skills, so I went on to study fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York.

As true for my entire life, creating is my absolute and continues to be the center of my daily universe. Each piece in my jewelry and clothing collection is meticulously handcrafted using the antique materials I love and have collected throughout my life. The most important things in my studio are my hands. They are my wings. Every beautiful thing I have ever seen, felt or touched contributes to my imagination

Jill Garber Dress Making

If my clothing is my heart, then surely my jewelry is my soul, for it reaches deep into the parts of me that first believed in my dream. Vivid three-dimensional images are alive in this secret place, and somehow without skipping a beat they communicate with my hands. I draw everything just as I see it in detail so I will not forget.

I am a hands-on artist who uses “old school” methods and processes. These include working with materials such as watercolor gouache, fine point artist’s pens, ruling pens, pencil and brush markers. My drawings are perfected in a layering process, which also allows me to ensure the originality of my designs. I begin with a rough sketch that I refine through additional drawings on transparent vellum. There can be an unlimited number of layers as I add or remove details while making adjustments to my design.

I have loved and collected antiques all my life, and each piece in my jewelry collection begins with an important antique element. Though I am known for using finely carved antique nineteenth-century cameos depicting gods or goddesses combined with natural stones like turquoise, I use many other antiquities that appeal to my sensibility and passion. These include angels, crosses, French paste, figural brooches, Sacred Heart medals, Venetian micro mosaic, miniature portraiture on porcelain or anything else that stimulates my artistic vision. Each of these treasures has a story to tell, and it is my reason d’etre to give them a new life and enhanced value for generations to come as wearable works of art.

Jill Garber Antique Necklaces

I am always in search of specific elements for my vision, but often find something unusual that inspires new design. The next step is gathering additional materials I need, including gemstones, then on to my process of physical layouts and renderings. Some of my jewelry collections combine materials from embroidered silk textiles, metallic stump work, ribbon applique or mother of pearl. All of these involve some version of my layering process. I am committed to originality, and there are many details involved in finalizing one piece—thus my methods can be very solitary and labor intensive. A finished piece can take weeks or even months.

All of my designs and creations are one of a kind, or limited edition. I want every garment or piece of jewelry to inspire and speak of the unique spirit and inner beauty of the wearer. The entire design process from conception to completion with entire jewelry and clothing collections begins and ends in my hands.

I saw the angel in the mirror and carved until I set him free. – Michelangelo

Each dress, jacket or accessory is also approached as wearable art. With dedication to heirloom fabrics and sewn with \ meticulous couture techniques—it is my hope that these pieces will be passed down and preserved for generations to come. There is no limit to the hand detailing or opulence of the beautiful materials I restore and use, along with the hand-embroidered Canton shawls that have become my trademark. Often combining these embroideries with fine vintage lace or silk velvet, my favorite signature pieces have the most amazing hand-woven silk fringes from the shawls.

My drawing process for jewelry also applies to each of the clothing designs. Sketching out details such as button applications, closures, piping, or seams, I then draft patterns while draping the fabrics I plan to use on a dress form. Each pattern is made with transparent material so I can plan exactly where every embroidered flower, leaf or ornament will fall in the garment. Any linings used are hand-tinted silk crepe de chine.

Jill Garber Antique Necklaces

For closures, I use new “old stock” mother of pearl buttons and all garments are sewn with silk or pure cotton thread. I personally plan all details for every garment, purse, hat, or belt in my collection. As with my jewelry, my illustrations and pattern drawings are saved and preserved.

Life has provided me with many experiences. They have added rich color, texture and dimension to my artist’s palette of ideas and dreams. So much grace has been extended to me as an artist, and having the ability to express myself as I share these artistic gifts with others is perhaps the greatest gift of all. I have only lived on this earth as an artist. I know no other way of living or being. To create beauty around me is like having a flame inside my heart that burns so brightly, no matter how dark the night—it allows me to see my way forward. It is my North Star.

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