Unique pieces of art are sold to people all over the country and the artist lives right here in Knoxville. And she started out wanting to be a marine biologist. Who knew?
Jessica Weiss uses a hammer, a drill, even a blow torch. This special technique is used to make jewelry. And this jewelry is truly unique.
"I want it to be easy to wear, lightweight, comfortable, but I want it to look handmade," said Weiss.
To think Jessica didn't want to be an artist at all.
"I went to College of Charleston to be a marine biologist and after three years of taking chemistry and biology, I realized that that just wasn't going to work out for me," said Weiss.
Jessica still thought artists couldn't make a living. "When we went to look at schools both my parents, every school we went to, they always asked, 'Do you have a good art program?' and I just scoffed and rolled my eyes cause I wasn't going to be an artist," said Jessica.
Eventually she gave in and went to the University of Tennessee for drawing. But her real passion took off after college when she took classes at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.
"I took a two-week class and I just knew that was what I was going to do," said Jessica.
"It was great. I learned how to set up a studio," explained Jessica. She started making earrings, rings, necklaces.
"It was rough silver, kind of chunky. It just had a real rough edge to it. I still really like that jewelry, but totally different," said Jessica.
She worked out of her home while she waited tables and then she rented a vacant space out of a shopping center her parents owned.
"That's when Artisans was born," explained Jessica.
One year was great and then the economy took a turn. "Being an artist is definitely half artistic ability and half business," said Jessica.
She soon decided to downsize to a shop named after her. Now her style has evolved.
"What really inspires me is old jewelry, like in Egyptian times and I want it to have the handmade feel," said Jessica.
She loves gold pieces, a stone with a bright color, even river rocks she's collected from area waterways.
"I've gotten it several times. People say your jewelry looks like it's been dug up from a ship wreck and that is my favorite compliment," said Jessica.
And she loves that local ladies love her look. "People are prettier in the South and they look really good in my jewelry," explained Jessica.
Jessica Weiss, happily married to her best friend, making her best pieces and living in the best place ever.
"I love East Tennessee. If it wasn't for East Tennessee I wouldn't be here," said Jessica.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.