Up Close with Jewelry Designer Nikki Nadeau

Monday, May 24, 2010


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Nikki Nadeau designs Thunderwing Jewels, a line of striking and mystical accessories made from stones, metal, found objects, bone, and feathers. A botanist by training, Nadeau now teaches jewelry design at School One in Providence. GoLocalProv's Camilla Hawthorne discovers this up and comer and her work.

When did you start designing jewelry?
I’ve been doing this for three years. I was in school for botany and wildlife biology. I am definitely an artistic person, so when I went to school and was exposed to the plant and animal world in a scientific way, it made me realize that I see it more in a mysterious, magical way.

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What are your favorite materials to work with?

Definitely bones and teeth. I also love feathers and crystals. Or a piece of rusty metal that I’ll find on the side of the road. Anything that I can look at and see a kind of beauty in. I like things that are imperfect. Things that other people think are ugly or garish, I think are really beautiful. I’ll hold something in my hand and look at it, and find out what kind of magic or story I see in it. Whatever I make, a lot of time and thought goes into it.

Are there any plans for the future of Thunderwing?
I would like to do more metalwork. I also have a lot of insects that I would like to cast in resin. I am working with huge chunks of amethyst, too. I love the power that different crystals hold, the power that different animals’ teeth or a feather symbolize. I definitely believe in magic and the occult—anything that is mysterious and that you can’t understand. Jewelry can be a wearable piece of art or magic.

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What are the benefits to being an artist in Rhode Island?

Everyone is really encouraging. It’s close-knit and everyone has access to everyone all the time. It’s not like New York; you can get coffee with someone and it’s not a big to-do. Everyone is just looking out for each other.

Do you have any advice for fledgling designers?
If you are passionate about something, it comes through in your work. Be passionate about it, but also be true to yourself. As soon as you stray off those two tracks you’ve lost it. Especially with computers, it’s easy to look at other people’s work and start to doubt yourself. Do it for yourself and not for anyone else, and that will show through.

Thunderwing Jewels can be found at Queen of Hearts, Waste Not Want Not, and Rocket to Mars, all in Providence, and at www.etsy.com/shop/thunderwing.


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