The featured gift shop artist for the month of July is Hillarey Dees. Hillarey is a studio jeweler currently living in New York.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career as an artist?

I always knew I wanted a career that allowed me to be creative. I wasn’t sure exactly what path that would take me on, but I am following it.

Q: How did you learn metal working techniques?

I first studied jewelry and metals with Bill Derrevere at Tulsa Community College and then continued my education at OSU with Chris Ramsey and Sungyeoul Lee.  I am also in debt to numerous authors of metalsmithing books that have shared a wealth of knowledge with me.

Q: How do your materials relate to your artistic concepts?

I use metal because of its vast versatility. Work can always be changed and manipulated after being previously abandoned or discarded.  I can use old work for a new purpose just as materials in natural environments or habitats often are regenerated.

Q: Is there a specific type of jewelry you enjoy making more than others?

I really enjoy playing with wax and using the casting process.  It allows for a lot of freedom.

Q: What are some changes that have evolved your body of work over time?

In other bodies of I work I have incorporated raw, natural materials, but lately, I have just been using them as visual references and working mostly in metal.  Instead of using just the raw material, working on the piece in wax allows it to evolve from its original form.

Q: What changes do you hope to make for the future of your work?

I really want to use some of the same volumetric forms that I use now for larger, sculptural pieces. A shift in scale I think would be exciting to explore.

Q: How does being an artist affect your life?

It affects almost every faction of my life, from choices I make with my career, to how I play with ingredients in the kitchen, and to the people I surround myself with.

Q: What do you use as inspiration for your work?

I’m interested in encased environments, such as pods or nests, which have since been abandoned. There is something about play between birth and decay that I’m drawn to

Q: What advice do you have for emerging artists?

Don’t isolate yourself, having a community is one of the most important things in an artist’s life.

Q: What is the strangest tool one would find in your studio?

Believe it or not, Wonder Bread.