Noël Yovovich says she was born to be an artist, and certainly she was raised in an uncommon atmosphere, in a rural area of Florida that was an overwintering spot for carnival performers. Of her early neighbors, she remembers, “[one was] a clown who was a little person, and another was a retired giant, and there was a professional fat lady and her husband the sword swallower.” Her father, a naval engineer, had an off-season side gig creating banners for sideshows for the Florida State Fair.
Recognizing her early interest in drawing, he taught her single-point perspective before she was 10. “He also gave me some early painting lessons. He wasn’t a terribly kind or generous man, so it meant a lot to me that he thought I was talented enough to teach.”
She went on to attend the University of Chicago, first studying anthropology and psychology. “But I was always an artist, and so, halfway through college, I changed my major and earned a Bachelor’s degree in fine art.
“I started out drawing and painting, though I also carved wood and even a little stone. … In college, I started making pottery and really loved it. So that’s what I mainly focused on for the next 20-plus years.”
Then, she says, her creative life was disrupted “by raising four kids and taking care of my mother, who had emphysema. When she died, it felt as though everything was pretty much unmoored. So I said, ‘If everything is up for grabs — grab something!’ I went for it and took a class and fell in love with metalsmithing after more than 20 years of working with clay. I still draw, paint, and do a little pottery, but jewelry has been the main thing ever since.”
Yovovich says she most often sketches out her designs first. Although some of the jewelry pieces evolve as she works on them, others change very little from her original drawings. “I’m very good at visualization, so a lot of even difficult details are resolved ahead of time.”
She describes making a tiny sculptural teapot, 3 by 5 inches, part of a set of three pins that can latch to each other to create a scene: “House in the Woods.” The base is silver, with a fossil-coral handle and spout and tigereye feet. “It took 300 hours to make — but I spent a year sketching and problem solving before I touched any materials or tools other than pencil and paper.”
She adds, “I’m happy whenever I’m making things. I love working in tiny detail. I love doing intricate saw-piercing, which to me is just like drawing. And I love working with color by using anodized titanium in many of my pieces. The colors of titanium are absolutely magic.” It is, she says, the only metal that can be textured to look different from different angles.
She also uses a lot of silver and gold, and occasionally copper as a contrast, along with a variety of gems and pearls. “So, in a way, jewelry is both painting and sculpture,” she muses. “I love that it allows my clients to wear art every day, out in the world where people can see it.”
Noël Yovovich, Asheville. Yovovich’s jewelry is sold at Woolworth Walk (25 Haywood St., downtown Asheville, woolworthwalk.com) and her studio at Pink Dog Creative (344 Depot St., Suite 1, in the River Arts District, pinkdogcreative.com) is open Friday and Saturday, 11am-4pm, and otherwise “by luck or appointment” (contact the artist at 847-494-1361 or email@example.com). For more information, visit noelyovovich.com.