"I am a curious person," says Claudia Pessarelli, an Italian-born pharmacist who now teaches Italian and has started a home-based jewelry business in Brookfield.
"I moved to Milwaukee six years ago, and after working in a completely different field, I found the courage to do what I like."
A self-taught artist, Pessarelli's jewelry creations do not adhere to a specific and single genre of design. Instead, she takes bits and pieces of the world around her to design one-of-a-kind accessories. Having traveled extensively throughout Europe and the U.S., she says that both cultures, thought very different, have influenced her work.
Yet it wasn't fashion savvy cities like Paris or Milan that she says has had the biggest impact on her art. Rather, it was Milwaukee. Although she has always been drawn to art in various mediums, she says her love for beads and jewelry is strictly "Milwaukeean," stemming from a visit to local bead stores with a friend.
"I fell in love with a strand of beads and I discovered I had so many ideas on how to use them and mix them," she says. "I started making necklaces for myself and people were stopping me everywhere to compliment me or to ask me where to find the jewelry I was wearing, so I thought I'd start making jewelry for others."
Partial to the possibilities of uncommon and natural materials, Pessarelli mixes different colors and textures and often utilizes quartzes, exotic woods, pearls, shells, seeds, silver, linen, hemp, raffia and even wool.
"I usually begin a piece around a single bead or a color that inspires me and, as time goes, the piece forms its own shape and personality. I do historic and ethnic researches and, because I love fashion trends, my works is contemporary and ever-changing."
Pessarelli never does a piece twice. In fact, she says that she couldn't even if she wanted to. Since many of her materials are found in places other than Milwaukee, she says it is impossible for her to replicate anything, making every piece unique.
Striving for versatility, her pieces are meant to target woman both young and older.
"My work is not age-discriminate. In my opinion, in 2005 even an older woman can dress and accessorize to have fun if she is secure with herself. In Europe we see this all the time, but with class and flair, never excessively."
So does being European influence the way she sees American fashion?
"Milwaukee women are a little too conservative, but they know how to dress and accessorize. Midwestern women are friendly and open, they smile openly and they are beautiful inside and out."
Pessarelli's jewelry can be purchased out of her home. Contact her at email@example.com or (414) 807-6676. She also does open houses, parties and appointments.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”