Warning: Don’t try to eat Erin Smith’s jewelry. Go ahead and drool a little — her necklaces evoke those ubiquitous candy necklaces of childhood — but the delicate ceramic beads will crack your teeth, not to mention destroy her playful yet elegant design.
A St. Paul native with a degree in product design from Parsons School of Design in New York, Smith has been making things all her life. She worked at Target for a handful of years after college, then left to start an online store with friends.
“We thought we would sell our own goods,” says Smith. “I was doing a lot of jewelry at the time.” The store, called Ship & Shape, took off, and the women found success as independent designers and online entrepreneurs. Eventually, they decided to branch off and create their own ventures.
On her own, Smith makes a variety of objects, mostly ceramic, including twisty lamps, cheerful planters and rounded mugs reminiscent of giant raised doughnuts.
To create her jewelry, she’s had to innovate. “When I first started, I made my own stamp out of metal and I’d stamp out each individual ceramic bead,” says Smith, who has a studio in the Purity Bakery building in south Minneapolis. That was tedious. “So my dad and I built an extruder. It’s like a caulking gun but with clay in the tube.” Now she can extrude the clay in her preferred shape in one long tube, glaze it, and cut it into individual beads — a far less laborious method.
“The whole process of problem solving and figuring out better ways to do things in the creative process is really inspiring for me,” says Smith. “I like making the process better.”
More information: esmithworkshop.com.