Internship Alert

Jennifer Merchant Design is looking for interns.

Black CZ Double Channel Bangle

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and are interested in jewelry, sculpture, learning the ins and outs of running an art business, and working with your hands I would love to work with you!

Interns will gain hands on experience in the studio, as well as learn the ins and outs of running an art based business. Working closely with Jennifer, interns will be involved in the creation of production jewelry collections, one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as sculpture and fine art pieces.

This is an unpaid position with the possibility to grow into paid contract work. Interns will be working from the studio which is located in the Lyn-Lake area of Uptown Minneapolis. Interns need to be available 10-20 hours per week during afternoons or evenings, specific days of the week are flexible. More hours available if desired.

For more information, send questions to Jennifer – jenmdesigns (at)

Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Layered Acrylic Chain Link Necklace

The studio, this is where the magic happens. And by magic, I mean a lot of hard work!

I start by ripping pages out of great art and fashion magazines, and select the most dynamic images to create the necklace. I then go through all the images, comparing them with the templates of the necklaces link shapes and cut the images into small link sized sections.

I also cut down large sheets of acrylic into small link sized sections so I can layer them with the imagery that I collected.

This is my scroll saw where I do all of the cutting and shape my work.

I always wear a respirator and protective eye wear so that all the acrylic dust particles created while cutting and sanding the acrylic don’t blind me or clog my lungs.

This is my studio assistant George.

Once I cut the acrylic sheet down, I organize all the little link sections into stacks in preparation to layer them with the magazine images. Each necklace has 24 links, each section of acrylic has masking on it to prevent scratching. I have to remove the masking from the side of the acrylic that I plan to bond with the magazine images. I also have to hit the unmasked sides of the acrylic sections with sand paper so that it adheres better to the paper.

I use a top secret resin to bond the layers together.

I found some pretty awesome images for this necklace!

Now I have the sections layered, it’s time to get ready to cut out the links.

So many links to cut.

Cutting acrylic is kind of a pain in the ass. The acrylic saw dust created during cutting can end up melting in the cut line because of the heat caused by the fast moving saw blade. To help prevent this I put a layer or two of masking tape on the back sides of the link sections, and attach a printed paper template on the front side so I can follow the lines while cutting. The masking tape and template help to create a bit of dust that doesn’t melt.

Now I am finally ready to cut them out! After each link is cut, I use a disc sander to refine the shape of each link.

But wait, we’re not done yet…

Each and every one of these links needs to be sanded and polished.

Sanding takes forever, not my favorite part…

I sand all 24 links with two grits of sandpaper before I can polish them.

On the right you can see the rough edge that the disc sander leaves behind. The link on the left shows the smooth finish after the second grit of sand paper it used.

Now I’m ready to polish the links so that the edges are clear as glass.

Polishing is a very messy process, I have to wash polishing compound residue off all the links (omg, am I done yet!)

I wasn’t lying when I said polishing was messy, look at all the residue left behind on my face! That’s why I wear all that gear when I work, and I still get covered…

Now that the links are all clean and shiny, I pop them together, and voila! a finished necklace =)

Behold, the layered acrylic chain link necklace.

Colorful Layered acrylic Chain Link Necklace.

Link detail.

Black and White Layered acrylic Chain Link Necklace.

RAW comes to Minneapolis!

Are you an art lover? Then you need to get familiar with RAW: natural born artists!

I have the great honor of showcasing my work at an upcoming RAW Minneapolis event called ILLUMINARE, which will take place in just over a week on July 21st at the Fine Line Music Cafe. The event features fine artists, local music performances by Culture Cry Wolf & Love Deluxe (a Sade tribute!) as well as two live fashion shows to close out the night! If you are in the Twin Cities area, please come check us out, it is a great way to mingle with local artists and art lovers while enjoying a cocktail and listening to great local music!

To participate in a RAW showcase, artists are required to sell 20 tickets to the event. Tickets are only $10 and are available HERE until Monday July 18th. If you do not purchase a ticket to support an artist by the 18th, you can still come to the event and pay the $10 cover at the door, however you will not be supporting any artist directly. Please show your support and buy a ticket today!

RAW:natural born artists is an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists.  Here is some info direct from this wonderful organization:

The RAW season runs from February to October every year, hosting a multi-faceted arts event every month in 17 different cities nationwide. RAW currently hosts monthly showcases in: Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Nashville, Austin, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

RAW takes applications year round. We encourage and welcome any creative expression to apply as we hope to be a platform for the countless artists living and working in communities around us. If you would like to be considered for RAW, please submit your work through our website at


Our mission is to provide independent artists of all creative genres, with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. RAW educates emerging artists through seminars, workshops and insight to further the knowledge of their industry.

RAW connects them with one another so that they might grow together, while providing them with opportunities to give back to their own local youth communities through the arts.

We encourage the creative success of the many visionaries and storytellers of our generation.

Support local art!! Hope to see you all at a RAW event soon =)

BIG jewels BIGGER opportunities!

As usual, it’s been a while since my last post… I’ve been a busy little bee!! The end of May was spent in the studio, day and night to make as many new pieces as I could to debut at the Edina Art Fair. All of my hard work seems to be paying off, I am now being carried in 2 new locations as a result of last weekend’s show!

My booth at the Edina Art Fair

Readers, meet GALLERY 360! A hip little S. Minneapolis gallery located in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Linden Hills.


I met the gallery’s owner Merry at the Edina Art Fair, and stopped by the following evening for the opening reception IN TO THE LIGHT, paintings by Kevan Willington. I was impressed with the caliber of art being shown, as well as the great feedback I was getting from others about the gallery, I felt very comfortable there. Merry carries a wide range of Art/Artists both local & national, and her selection of artist made jewelry especially peaked my interest. Thoughtfully displayed pieces offered in a vast array of styles, each one unique and well crafted, I could tell Merry put a lot of thought into her selections. I am honored to be offered the opportunity to show/sell work there!  I look forward to a growing relationship with the gallery, as well as inspiration and encouragement to try new things and keep making new work.


More exciting news, my jewels are now available at BUMBERSHUTE! A gorgeous high-end boutique in the heart of the 50th & France shopping district.

I met the shop’s owner Kathryn just hours after speaking with Merry from Gallery 360, it was quite an exciting day! The shop is amazing, bright & modern with a killer collection of high-fashion finds! Like Vogue magazine the store… well established designers like Dolce&Gabbana are featured along side a few up and comers both local and national. I feel very lucky to be offering some of my more glamorous designs next to such notable names, maybe one day I will even be able to afford to shop there!

Trillion ring & trapezoid bangle now available at BUMBERSHUTE

Also on the agenda for June, provide jewels for a fashion show produced by Design Collective, as well as a trip to Chicago for an open casting call for the forthcoming ‘Project Accessory‘ show which will air on the Lifetime network!

As for the fashion show, all I can really say is it’s being organized by Jay Nelson & Anita Jensen (who are in the process of transitioning as the new owners of Design Collective) and it will feature local designers. The show takes place on Sat the 18th.

It has been over 2 years since I last left the state of Minnesota, as much as I love it here, I am really looking forward to my trip to Chicago! Armed with my newest designs and a revamped portfolio, I will claw my way to the top in an effort to be cast on a new show ‘Project Accessory.’ I have always loved ‘Project Runway’ and wished there were a version for jewelry and accessories…. now my wish has come true! Just the opportunity to have my work reviewed by heavy-weights in the fashion industry is enough to make the 7 hour journey, let alone the possibility to gain exposure and inspiration by competing with other talented designers on the show. I am really looking forward to giving it all I’ve got, and getting a chance to explore Chicago in all its glory!

Layered Acrylic Bangles, June 2011


RAW: natural born artist Showcase

8pm July 21st at the Fine Line Music Cafe

Great event showcasing local art, music, and fashion!

Layered Acrylic Rings, June 2011

Can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store!

There’s Nothing Like A Catwalk!

Ok, so this post is a bit over due… but better late than never… right?!

MN Fashion week has come to an end, but what a week it was! I made it out to a few key events; Envision Artopia, Voltage: Fashion Amplified, and the Sol Inspirations Eco Fashion Show. I would have loved to have gone to more, but I had my hands full finishing up my spring collection of jewelry. I had the honor of showing my collection with the fashions of Frances Zerr on Voltage runway!

I was quite impressed with Voltage this year (and not just because I was a part of it) I had gone to the show a few years ago, and while it was well produced, I was left underwhelmed with the designs being showcased. A lot has changed since then. Minneapolis has kicked it up a notch and really seems to be gaining momentum in the fashion realm. My one criticism of the night was the music. Voltage is billed as a fashion/rock show, many of the acts were just too mellow in my opinion. Pink Mink did a great job closing out the night, they fucking rocked! But, while the other bands were talented, I feel they lacked the energy that is needed for a fashion show, especially when the crowd is on their feet for over 3 hours. In fact, music seemed to be an issue at all of the fashion events I attended this year. DJ Sheik was brought in to spin at both the Envision Artopia and the Sol Inspirations shows. I hope they didn’t pay her too much… she mostly played music from 10-15 years ago. We’re there to see forward thinking fashions, why not give us some forward thinking music to go along with it?!

Ok, on to the goodies! I had the pleasure of collaborating with the lovely Frances Zerr to create a bold line of jewelry to accent her awesome sporty spring collection. This was my first time showing on the runway, so I wanted to capture all of the excitement behind the scenes. Below are few shots I managed to get backstage (it was majorly crowded back there!) of our beautiful models. Also, I’ve included some photographs from Jules Christman of our looks going down the runway.

I was elated to be a part of the show, but a bit bummed I didn’t get to see the whole thing. Luckily Frances and I showed 3rd, so I got to see the entire second half of the show! I even managed to get a front row spot thanks to my mom for getting there early and snagging some prime real estate next to the runway. What a great night!!

Check out more awesome photos from the show on one of my fav local fashion blogs Art of Wore!

There were so many talented local Minneapolis designers that showed during MN Fashion Week this year, check out some of my personal favorites!

Jagress Intimates
Nikki English
Needle and Black
Max Lorbach
Raul Osorio
Emma Berg

Alright New York, Paris, and Milan…. Minneapolis is comin’ for ya! Ok, we may not be at that caliber yet, but we’re workin’ on it!!

Big things to come!

For the past month I have been collaborating with local Minneapolis fashion designer Frances Zerr for the upcoming Voltage: Fashion Amplified, runway show. The show takes place Friday April 15th, visit MNFashion for more info and full list of designers. It has been great working with Frances, the collaboration is bringing out a new side to my work which I am very excited unveil at the show!

Being involved with Voltage and MNFashion has been a great experience for me. I’ve had the chance to meet other artists and designers, and really connect with the fashion community in MN. It has also helped me get on the radar of local press and fashion bloggers! Earlier today I dropped off a bunch of jewels to be photographed for an upcoming article in Metro Magazine! Look for an article about some of the featured Voltage Accessories designers in the March issue, featuring some great photographs of my work =)

In mid January I was shocked to find that some pieces from my Etsy Shop were featured on Refinery29 in an article about Acrylic & Plastic Jewelry being one of the 5 Spring Jewelry Trends To Try Now ! It made my day to see my work next to the likes of Miu Miu and Karen Walker.

Next on the agenda is to get my work into more shops and boutiques! I feel like I’m finally ready for wholesale, and the retail world! Just today I was doing research on having some of my pieces laser cut. My goal is to have a wide range of jewels in each collection that go from budget friendly, to ultra extravagant. Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming laser cut goodies.

The Invisibles CollectionThe lovely and talented Kristina Westberg of Up ‘n Away Design has been working hard on designing my very own website, it should be launched within the next few days! I’ll let y’all know the minute it’s fully operational =)

2011 has been off to a great start, I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for the rest of the year, after all it’s only February!

What are all of you looking forward to this year? What’s on your mind? and what would you like to know more about?

Avant-Glam is a brand new blog focusing on cutting edge jewelry designers, artists, and techniques. This is your chance to speak your mind and influence the kinds of topics and info discussed here at Avant-Glam, I want to know what YOU think!

Welcome to my world!

Hello world!

It’s about time I started a blog to share some of the creativity and madness that goes on in my head!

How rude, I haven’t even introduced myself yet! I was born in the early 80’s, and like millions of other baby girls in that time, my parents gave me the unique name Jennifer (but you can call me Jen.) Growing up I may have had one of the most popular names, but I sure wasn’t one of the most popular kids! I was that arty smart girl that no one could quite figure out, so I kept to myself and spent most of my time creating and performing in my room. When I was young I’d wished I was more like the other kids, but now that I’m a bit older (and wiser!) I’ve realized that being me is pretty great!

In 2001 I left my home town of Eden Prairie, MN to go off to art school at the Savannah College of Art and Design, in Savannah, GA. I majored in Metals and Jewelry, with a minor in partying and binge drinking ;) Finally I wasn’t the weird art girl, at art school I was one of the ‘normal’ ones! College was a great experience, I learned so much more than just in classes at school, I learned a lot about myself and my creative process. I graduated in ’05 and decided it was time to bid Savannah aidue and come home to MN. Although the winters here are cold and long here, I am happy to call MN home again =)

2010 was a life changing year for me, I lost my job and started a business. Kind of a crazy thing to do starting a business during a recession, but it was either that or be incredibly unhappy. Today I am the sole proprietor of Jennifer Merchant Design, a unique handmade jewelry company. Although I am a trained metalsmith, my utter lack of equipment and proper studio have left me to my own devices. And now with the price of gold and silver up almost 500% since graduating college, I am happy to work with non traditional materials such as Corian and Acrylic! It’s been an exciting adventure working for myself, and each day just keeps getting better and better! May 13th 2011 will mark the 1 year anniversary of the start of my business, and I hope to be celebrating that day for years to come!!


Stinger Necklace

Acrylic Knuckles




Faceted Corian Carved Ring

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned for weekly posts about jewelry, fashion, running a business, art, random thoughts, cool stuff, the occasional rant, and my studio mate (cat) George!