Artist Spotlight:

Connie Copley

My Jewelry, My Life

It was those old rhinestone pins, the kind my grandmother wore, that launched my artist-life. As a child, I loved the sparkly nature of Austrian crystals and desperately wanted to wear a brooch from Grandmother’s collection, but they were too large, and I was too young. I received a second chance, however, three decades later when those very pins, turning up on denim jackets, became stylishly collectible.

This trend sent my teenage daughter and me on a serious mission of finding faux diamonds for our own jean jackets. The search took us to Saturday morning vintage shops, markets, and estate sales where we unexpectedly found (as my daughter said) “things that weren’t jewelry but could be.”

Intricately carved dress buckles, fancy shoe clips, and ornate cape closures caught our collective eye. These no-longer-useful accessories were far too good not to be something. We just had to figure out what that was. With no clear purpose in mind, we rescued the orphaned pieces.

Eventually, I began layering some of these findings into collage-pins. I gave them names. I wore them on my coat. I sold them from off my lapel. Next came earrings, necklaces, and bracelets all reimagined from early plastic findings of Bakelite, celluloid and Lucite. I became the ConArtist, a play on my name.

Over the years my work has evolved. My style is recognizable with its signature colors and art deco flavor that blurs the lines of past and present. My art has allowed me to own a small business, to travel, to teach, to learn. I enjoy a wide circle of artist friends and long-time customers who have become friends. I am blessed!

And that very vintage denim jacket with its 1950’s rhinestone pins? It yet hangs in my closet, but there’s a granddaughter who has her eye on it.