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Gainesville’s Drexler fashions her own line of accessories from cast-off items

POSTED: September 13, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Photos by SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Jessica Drexler of J. Drexler Designs talks about her inspiration for her vintage jewelry and unique hair accessories Monday inside her Gainesville home. Drexler, who crafts the jewelry out of found vintage pieces, first debuted her work eight years ago at Art on the Square in Gainesville.

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Boxes of odds and ends like old maps and doll-house miniatures would be disregarded as junk to most folks.

But Jessica Drexler sees a container filled with possibilities.

For eight years, Drexler has been using found objects to create one-of-a-kind pieces for her accessories line, J. Drexler Designs.

"I like vintage stuff. I like history and I like antiques. I think there are little stories attached to all of them," said Drexler, a Gainesville resident.

"I use things like little furniture findings and chandelier crystals. It’s stuff that’s not really meant for jewelry, but I think that it works."

Although she’s created an extensive line of hair accessories, necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings, Drexler didn’t always have designs on being in this field. She happened upon jewelry making in 2003 when creativity struck, but she couldn’t get to her art supplies.

"I didn’t have access to any of my painting or drawing stuff, but I had these beads that I’d collected," Drexler said.

"I’d never made jewelry before that, but I started playing around with them."

Experimenting lead to Drexler creating a number of pieces, which she first made available to the public in 2003.

"I just started making pieces and decided to put it out there to see what happened. The first show I ever did was Art in the Square," Drexler said.

"I started out with necklaces. Then people asked for earrings to go with them. Then I started using some buttons and stuff that I thought would make nice rings. It keeps branching out."

With a jewelry line that she never intended to have growing faster than she ever anticipated, Drexler has had to push her boundaries from time to time.

"Sometimes, there would be different combinations of things that I liked, but I wouldn’t necessarily know how to put it all together," Drexler said.

"So, I would learn techniques as I needed to do something."

From feathers to pottery shards, old hymnals and repurposed brooches, nothing is off limits for this jewelry designer. She has made pendants out of scraps of antique lace, headbands from vintage neckties and necklaces from the inner workings of an old watch.

"I’ve always collected stuff — feathers, natural stones, really anything," Drexler said.

"I find things all over. That’s the fun part. I really like hunting for stuff. I really like finding an old box of junk that I can dig through and find little things to use," Drexler said.

"Sometimes the stuff finds me. (My family) sometimes unloads stuff on me, which is nice. My aunt had a whole tin of vintage belt buckles — that was great."

In addition to her website, Drexler sells her designs at various art shows and festivals. She’ll be setting up shop at this weekend’s Art in the Square in downtown Gainesville.

"I’m really just having fun with it. For a while, I was trying to figure out what kind of jewelry was popular, but now I just make things that I think are fun or interesting," Drexler said.

"I really like the style of the things I’m doing now. I really like the mix of stones, antique stuff and the things that aren’t necessarily jewelry.

"It seems like the more I make things just because I like it, the more receptive people are to it. That makes it really fun."



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