Rachel Adams of Nouveau Motley makes wonderful vintage-inspired jewelry and accessories. I was first attracted to Miss Adams’ work because she is able to make everything so elegant, yet rebellious. With these two forces at play, her line is simply mesmerizing. Take a look at one of her necklaces, and be enraptured first by beatuiful beads and an antiquated chain. Take a closer look, and discover the pendant features an image of a nude jazz-era flapper. Miss Adams’ usage of clock movements in many of her pieces simply amazes me, and indulges my enthusiasm for steampunk aesthetic. These are the sort of surprises I love about Nouveau Motley. Wanting to learn more about these lovely creations, I contacted Miss Adams, and she graciously agreed to an interview.
How and when did you get started with creative arts?
As far back as I can remember I was always interested in creative arts. I started making dolls at a very young age, and that led to making miniature accessories to go with them. I have always been rather independent and interested in how things work and the way they are made. If something looks intriguing to me, I will more often than not try my hand at making it.
What inspired you to start Nouveau Motley?
It was a bit serendipitous, actually. I came up with the name about 8 years ago when dreaming of opening up an antique and antique reproduction jewelry shop. Then when I finally graduated college (I was a perpetual student who changed majors 4 times), I decided to pursue my life long dream of supporting myself through my art and my crafts. Nouveau Motley actually began as a soap making business and sold pocket mirrors and pendants that used a lot of risque imagery from the 1880s to the 1920s. Then it quickly blossomed into antique-style jewelry. I still enjoy making soap from scratch, all Fight Club style, but no shaved monkeys or apocalyptic aims.
What really inspires you the most in your work?
The name Nouveau Motley is actually quite poignant in the fact that my inspiration comes from a very wide motley of sources and then adapting that inspiration into a modern or Nouveau design. Reading a book or cleaning a closet, I will find a sentence or a fragment that will get my head spinning with ideas. I gain inspiration from anything and everything, really. Antiques, history, anthropology, fashion, art, literature, doll houses, friends, acquaintances. I’m quite obsessed with Victorian Curiosity Cabinets, taxidermy dioramas, & doll houses, and these three influences are quite apparent in my Kafka Clocks, which are essentially itty-bitty versions of curiosity cabinets housing insect specimens, gemstones, and antique clockwork bits.
What do you do when you sit down to design your jewelry? What are your rituals in the process?
Two words: Creative Chaos. I make a mess. A really big one. I like to have everything I would or could need within an arms reach, as to not be hindered in the creative process by having to get up and search for that one special component. Many of my clockwork pieces begin with me really looking at a single plate from a pocket watch or an empty pocket watch case. When you really look at something it kind of guides you as to the next step as to where to go with it. It’s like what Michelangelo said about his David, and how when he received the block of raw marble, he simply let David out of it.
What’s next for Noveau Motley?
I have many desires as to where I would like to go, but the most immediate adventure is going to be the move into feathers and fabric in a millinery sense. I wish to begin creating hats from scratch to incorporate my Kafka Clock hat bands in, and to use jewel-toned velvets and plumes to further highlight the splendors of Nature’s handiwork as well as the beauty of human invention.