FC Designer Spotlight: Blackjam: Objects of Designed Happenstance

Blackjam: Objects of Designed Happenstance is headed by designer Jennifer Morris. Jennifer’s unique jewelry is impeccably hand sewn by herself at her studio, utilizing embroidery and bead weaving. All of Jennifer’s designs are one of a kind using vintage beads, buttons, cabochons, reconditioned bits of costume jewelry and fabric scraps she gets from her fellow designers. Jennifer has been doing needlework since her childhood. What stated out as a way to entertain a child when going though major surgery and illness became a vocation. She has always been interested in and inspired by needlework of the past and what is going on with modern textile arts. Jennifer attended Sheridan College: School of Craft and Design were she majored in Textile and was also a Artist in Residence at The Textile Studio in Harbourfront’s Craft Studios. She has been to Paris and seen the embroidery of the Haute couture houses, and has studied the Lunéville
embroidery technique used in the House of Lesage. She has tried her hand at many medias and always goes back to her needles and thread.

Jennifer takes her inspiration from many places. She loves the history of design, art and popular culture. She loves colours and how they play off each other and is drawn to texture and how that can work in design, putting her love of textiles into her jewelry design.

Scarf Brooches – Scraps of scarfs make up the petals of these multi coloured brooches. These brooches can dress up any outfit. Attach it to a hairband and you have a fascinator for that holiday party. The scraps come from the dresses in the past spring and summer dresses by Paper People Clothing.

Kumihimo Series – A upscale version of the friendship bracelets you wore as a kid. Necklace and bracelets are make of a braided cord using the Japanese technique of Kumihimo.* Beads are then hand-stitched onto the braid. They are finished with a clasp and a charm on the end to give them an adult feel. Wear bracelets stacked on your wrist just like you did when you were young! All pieces are one of a kind due to the nature of their design.

*Kumihimo: The most prominent historical use of the cords by samurai as both a functional and decorative way to lace their lamellar armour and their horses’ armor (barding). Kumihimo cords are now used as ties on haori jackets and obijimes, which are used for tying on an obi (kimono sash).

Q&A with Jennifer Morris of BlackJam:

How long have you been designing/where did you get your start?
I have been making thing since my childhood. I was sick as a kid abd in and out of hospitals so crafts became the way I entertained myself. I had a line of hand painted jewellery when I was sixteen and I sold it in a local store near our family cottage.
I studied textiles at Sheridan Collage School of Craft and Design and was an artist in resident at Harbourfront Craft Studios. I have also have shown my work in galleries over the years. Though I make jewelry I still consider my work textiles as I use a needle and thread to create the work. I love making things with my hands! Throughout my life, with all its ups a downs, my work has help me focus on something bigger than myself.
When I got sick with Breast Cancer I decided that life was too short to not do what I loved doing. And what I loved doing was making things. It even helped me survive the cancer in some ways. I always had something to do when going through my treatments. I would see others and they didn’t have anything else other than the sickness. I always had my work to think about and even when my hands shook because of the chemo I just knitted and crochet till I was better. To me making is the equivalent to breathing – I need to make things to keep me sane.

Where did you find your inspiration for this collection?
I get inspiration from everything – from the book I am reading, to movies or television to a pattern caused by rust on a car. You can find ideas everywhere – you just need to open your eyes a see what’s out there.
I love to put my sense of humour and or whimsy in my jewelry so you can always find something just a little off in all my work. But mostly it’s about colour, texture, pattern and how they work together.
The flower brooches were inspired from the scraps of fabric that Jennifer of Paper People Clothing gave me. These are made from what was left over from the Scarf Dress in their Spring/Summer collection. When i saw them they just said they needed to be big flowers!
The Kimohimo bracelets came from a conversation with Joe the manager of FC Roncey about making upscale friendship bracelets and this is what I came up with.

If you could dress any celebrity who would it be?
Helena Bonham Carter or Cate Blanchett

What is the most rewarding part about having your own line?
Getting to live the life I always wanted. It’s hard don’t get me wrong but getting up everyday loving what I do is all I ever wanted and seeing others wearing my jewellery. We create our work in such a vacuum in our studios, so seeing and knowing others like and enjoy what I do is a great feeling.

What has been the best part of your Fresh Collective journey thus far?
There is too much to even talk about! Some of the best things are Laura-Jean and what she has given me in friendship and mentoring has been invaluable. I have found my voice as a designer and I am able to do one of a kind work that I love and find the audience of people that enjoy and understand what goes into work like mine. The other great thing is the great friends I have met on this journey. Some were co-designers and some were customers but they have become friends too.


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