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We're really big on female entrepreneurs here at Racked Chicago, and if their product is something we can sling over our shoulder or sip out of a stylish glass bottle, all the more reason to love them.
Etta Kostick comes from a family of glassblowers, so it's not surprising that she ended up turning the shimmering, translucent stuff into lovely jewelry. Her eponymous line is inspired by everything from her Massachusetts upbringing to her South Asian travels and, finally, her love of the Chicago skyline—which she can spot from the roof of her West Town apartment.
Growing up amid glassblowers sounds like the premise for a modern-day Cinderella story, so after gaping at her wares—which look a lot like the beloved pieces of seaglass we used to collect on the beach during our (imaginary) childhood vacations to the Hamptons—we asked Etta to elaborate.
What's it like growing up in a family of glassblowers? Because it sounds amazing.
I grew up in rural Massachusetts where both of my parents were self-employed glassblowers. It was great—they worked from a studio right next to our house, so they were always around and always busy with such beautiful glass work. I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in such an artistic family with such great teachers.
How do you come up with the inspiration for each piece of jewelry?
I was originally influenced by tribal adornments and jewelry I had collected from South Asia. I love combining bold shapes with more delicate and organic elements that emulate things I see in nature. I work and live in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago, and if I ever need a jolt of inspiration I just go up on my roof and take in the beautiful skyline of the city.
Did you study jewelry-making in school? If not, how did this become your career?
I was never formally trained in either sculpture or jewelry design, but my upbringing has had a large influence on my work and my career path. At the age of seven, my parents started teaching me the basics of glassblowing, and this is when my interest in glass was really sparked. I loved the range of colors and the way I was able to manipulate and transform glass by using heat and movement.
In my teens, I started making necklace bottles and and beads from glass and selling these to local stores. When I moved to Chicago in 2007, I began working with stained glass, and created my first jewelry line in 2009. Over the years, my passion for glass work has lead me to experiment with new ways of manipulating glass such as torch-fired copper enameling, and, most recently, glass fusing. My two new collections are created with fused glass that uses unique techniques such as grinding and polishing edges to create faceted crystal-like forms, and encasing shards of metal in between melted layers of glass.