While many people welcome a chance to work from home, it’s not the ideal scenario if you’re a jewelry maker with a young toddler.
“He’s trying to grab blow torches, and I’m sweeping up tiny pieces of metal and glass 20 times a day,” Jill Robertson of Appalachia’s Daughter describes her daily life since the floods hit Eastern Kentucky in July 2022, taking out her studio in the Appalachian Artisan Center. The floods forced her to set up shop in her home until the center completes its renovations.
“I’m fortunate that all I lost was stuff. It’s all replaceable,” Jill said. “My community has lost so much more.”
Jill grew up in the Chavies community of Perry County, and had her studio in Hindman in Knott County, both areas devastated by the historic flood. Rebuilding and recovery will be ongoing for many years, and has underscored people’s love for their homes and Jill’s passion in creating art that represents their area.
She wields the force instilled in her by the mountains each time she picks up her hammer and flame tools to craft handmade necklaces, earrings, and custom stained glass. Her goal is to create unique jewelry from brass and copper that are heirloom quality pieces for affordable prices. The pieces of her collection have whimsical names like pendants called ‘Cane Pole’ and ‘Hammock Weather,’ but also more philosophical pieces like ‘Decisions’, ‘Intention’ and ‘Introvert’, and even a whole series inspired by the musician Stevie Nicks.
Whimsical and philosophical are two words one might use to describe Jill. Her skill combined with her passion and personality are what make her one of Eastern Kentucky’s great teaching artists.
She partners with local organizations, like the Appalachian Arts Alliance in Hazard, the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman, and local addiction recovery facilities, to offer workshops in everything from jewelry making to stain-glass and welding. She said she absolutely loves teaching these classes.
A full-time artist, Jill needed a better way to tell her story, sell her pieces and communicate about her workshop offerings. Jill worked with S Media through Mountain Association’s Business Support program to develop her website and e-commerce store. S Media completed the bulk of the development, while training Jill in how to update and maintain the site.
“Every other organization told me: ‘We’re going to teach you.’ It’s not that I couldn’t learn how to do a website and do it on my own via YouTube. What I wanted was for someone is to take this off my plate,” Jill said of the value of the program.
We are so happy to have been able to support Appalachia’s Daughter in this way. Please explore the new site to learn more about Jill, or purchase a custom piece. She is also available for workshops and creative place-making consulting for communities.
You may also find ways to donate to flood relief efforts via her website. She is eager to move back into her studio at the Appalachian Artisan Center as soon as they complete their renovations.