Hannah Hoffman I Hannah Hoffman Jewelry
"I believe that I deserve to spend my days doing what I want to do. I don’t think that there is anything more valuable than creating the life that you want."
Where did you grow up? Describe that place and its people...
I grew up in Sunbury, Ohio - a small town just north of Columbus. When I was a child, Sunbury was a place where people mainly farmed, but we lived in town. Everyone knew everyone. You could buy fresh milk from the dairy in town and we could walk to all of the places that were important to us. The people were middle class and worked hard for what they had.
What were you like as a child?
I was a free spirit as a young child. I grew up in a household that didn’t have a lot of rules, but I don’t feel like I needed them. I behaved well and was always very imaginative and creative. After I started kindergarten, something shifted. The structure and the idea that I could do something “wrong,” really scared me. I was scolded for wanting to stand at my desk and not napping. I wasn’t used to this and my reaction was to go inward. I became very shy and quiet. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to feel comfortable being more verbally expressive again.
What did you want to do/be when you grew up?
If I remember correctly, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. As a child you have to say something, right? I may or may not have meant it. I didn’t believe I could have a career as an artist until very, very recently.
When did you first leave home? Where did you go?
I left home when I was 18. I didn’t go far -- maybe 8 miles or so south, to a place a little bigger than Sunbury. I moved into an apartment that housed 8 other women. It was a really cool experience and we did everything you’d imagine that women in that position would do. A couple of years later, I went to Hawaii. I stayed there for a year and had the most amazing experience of my life. I was 21 and felt a true sense of connection and acceptance to another group of people, for maybe the first time in my life. I found a new level of friendship, freedom, and joy there. I want to spend my final days there, if I don’t make it back sooner. There’s just nothing like it.
What brought you to Columbus?
When I returned from Hawaii, I was feeling kind of lost and depressed. I felt I had changed for the better, but Ohio was the same as it always. My sister was living on the Ohio State Campus and suggested I move in with her and go to school, so I did. I think that the energy of Hawaii inspired me to do what I love. I applied to the school of fine arts at Ohio State with a concentration in photography. I was enjoying art school, but the photography program wasn’t quite the right fit for me. I then took a glass blowing class and really liked the instructor and the program. There was also something that clicked into place when I made the transition from 2-D to 3-D work. I decided to switch programs and graduated with a concentration in glass art.
Do you have any formal jewelry training?
Most of what I know I learned at the Cultural Arts Center, an art center that is run by the Columbus Department of Parks and Recreation. It’s a wonderful and inexpensive resource. I’ve also taken various workshops at craft schools like Penland and Haystack. They offer intensive workshops in which the instructor and the subject matter is always changing. I’ve learned so much from going to these schools and consider them to be a part of my continuing education.
When did you first start making jewelry? Was there a particular moment when you knew it was what you wanted to pursue?
I began dabbling with metal in 2008. I was finishing up my degree and I wanted to incorporate metal into my glass work. I was immediately attracted to the flexibility and forgiving nature that metal work offered. I purchased a few tools and quickly had a little home studio set-up.
What were you doing before you started making and selling your own work?
Most recently I was an ABA Therapist- an in home teacher for children diagnosed with Autism. For a couple of years, I did this work part time in conjunction with my jewelry business. Last October I decided that I really need to take the risk and fully devote my energy to my business. It was one of the best and scariest decisions that I’ve made.
What inspires your work?
I am inspired by contemporary art, architecture, other jewelers. Creating new work is always a powerful motivator for me. My work is a conversation with my peers and the public. I make work and get feedback from people. This motivates me to keep going.
What is your favorite part about being an artist? working for yourself?
Creative work is so rewarding to me. The freedom- I love being in charge of how I spend my days.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
I love working with gold and silver- especially together. I love that way that silver looks when it’s oxidized to a dark gray. When oxidized silver and gold come together, they create a really great gray and gold contrast.
How would you describe your designs?
Industrial, organic, modern, minimal, clean.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
Experiment without judgement. I used to get really caught up in making something perfect, every time. I had to let that go.
Any favorite makers right now?
Amy Tavern, Erica Bello, Sarah Rachel Brown
What are your biggest challenges? Do you have an achilles heel?
I can be way too hard on myself. I sometimes feel that I haven’t accomplished enough or that I’ll never reach my goals. When I feel this way, I try to look at how far I’ve come and practice self compassion.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m proud of myself for being a working artist and running my own business.
What would you say to someone who wants to do what you do?
I would say, do what you love. I believe that I deserve to spend my days doing what I want to do. I don’t think that there is anything more valuable than creating the life that you want.
What is your advice on how to live a more creative life?
Do something, anything, creative- and often. Having a clean space set aside for your creative work is super helpful. I also set up studio dates with friends from time to time.
What does the word "authentic" mean to you? How does your work allow you to live authentically?
To me, the word authentic means listening to my own truth again and again. I specifically try not to make work that is trendy, but it’s really easy to be influenced by your peers without even realizing that it’s happening. I try to make work that I see as art and jewelry. I think that having an art background helps me to remain authentic with my work as a jeweler.
Do you have any rituals that prepare you for a day? help you find balance?
Meditation is really important to me, and although it can be hard to maintain a practice during my busy seasons, I always come back to it. I find that a short walk and a little yoga throughout the day also help me to stay balanced.
Any badass women that you love?
I feel grateful to have friends in my life that are truly badasses. They are tough, creative, compassionate, strong women who are doing what they love. They are running farms, working as artists, fixing their own cars, building things. It’s really inspiring to have women like this in my life.
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