Husband and wife duo find creative outlet in jewelry making – North Texas Daily

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The selected image: Shawn Zeigler laughs with a customer at the Firefly Forge booth at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival on April 28, 2019. Zeigler owns the jewelry business with her husband, Sean. Together, they have been selling their creations at the festival since 2006. Photo by Samuel gomez

Shawn B. Zeigler had never seen fireflies in North Texas until she moved into a Denton house with her husband, Sean. There, she said, fireflies lit up their backyards at night. This memory has made its way into the name of her jewelry business, Firefly Forge, where she and Sean aim to create meaningful pieces that stand the test of time.

“I want the person who buys our jewelry to always be ready to wear it for five years or more,” Shawn said.

Shawn and Sean Zeigler are co-owners of the Firefly Forge handmade jewelry store. The pair create necklaces, earrings and cuffs among other items and sell their work in line and at local markets and festivals. Shawn, who works as an English teacher, takes care more of the management and creates beaded pieces, while Sean, a graphic designer, takes care of the metalwork.

Sean is mostly self-taught and learned to work with metal long before he created Firefly Forge. At 13, he began to take things apart in the house, so his father gave him an outlet for his curiosity.

“He came home one day with silver solder and a torch and just said, ‘Hey, find out how to do something with that,’ and that’s where I started, ‘ Sean said.

His interest in metalworking continued during his college years at UNT, where he took several metallurgy courses that exposed him to more possibilities for art.

In 2002, Sean’s sister asked him to create jewelry for the bridesmaids at his wedding. He and Shawn also created some extra pieces, which they took to a post-wedding barbecue in a Ziploc bag, and Shawn said they were made well by family and friends. She said that’s when they realized their interest in jewelry was something they could pursue as a business.

A customer examines a piece of jewelry at the Firefly Forge booth at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival on April 28, 2019. Photo by Samuel gomez

“I had a grandmother who was just the biggest jewelry demon, she owned so much of it and was into all the fashions and fashions,” Shawn said. “I played with his things a lot when I was little. And so [jewelry making] sounded like fun.

The couple continued their jewelry business thereafter, although Shawn said 2006 was when they really got started, as it was their first year at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. She said they mostly worked with sterling silver and created all kinds of engraved, beaded and gemstone pieces. They pay attention to fashion and trends when creating their jewelry designs.

“I think we’ve definitely made some progress in trying to keep an eye on what fashion is doing,” Shawn said. “Are the necklines higher or lower? Where are the waistlines? “

In addition to working full time outside of Firefly Forge, the Zeiglers are also the parents of a 21 month old child and Sean has said that running a home, a career, looking after a child and running a business of jewelry occupied them. Despite this, Sean said it’s important to have something more than a day job, which is part of why he and his wife work well together.

“It’s been a great partnership to have because I think we’ve both been raised to feel like we have more to offer,” said Sean.

Shawn said she also enjoys being a part owner of a business with her husband and they balance each other out well.

“He has such an eye for design and can see creative things to do with metal that I wouldn’t have thought of,” Shawn said.

Shawn said her work as a teacher brought her in touch with people interested in her business – one of her biggest clients is the mother of a former student. However, making and selling jewelry also helps her put her life as a teacher aside and gives her a productive way to harness her creativity.

“There’s something really great about shooting a Netflix movie and sitting down for an hour and a half and at the end of it having these physical things that you created that you can show off in your time,” Shawn said. .

Many of their connections, however, come from active markets and festivals. The Zeiglers have worked at festivals in Fredericksburg, Georgetown, Tyler and Weatherford, TX, as well as a few seasons at Denton Community Market and the Holiday Craft Fair at Ryan High School.

Shawn said their biggest event is the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, which took place last weekend, and her attendance at the festival every year has been one of the biggest moments for her.

“Even when there’s a dust bowl or a mud pit or it rains one night, this festival is the unofficial reunion weekend for the people who live and love Denton, TX,” said Shawn.

Carol Long, a Denton stained glass artist and owner of Solasta Stained Glass, is a former colleague at Shawn’s. She also said festivals like Arts and Jazz have been instrumental in the growth of small businesses in the local arts community.

“I know a lot of people who started this way, and I know a few people who opened up brick and mortar stores and it started in the markets,” Long said.

The Zeiglers said their long-term goal for Firefly Forge is to learn how to monetize platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Sean said social media has become as important to business as it is to social connections, and he hopes he can successfully navigate that market.

“I think we’re definitely moving into an economy where bricks and mortar aren’t as important,” Sean said.

Shawn said she would also like to hire or partner with others to help meet some of the time demands. For now, Sean said, they will continue to find time between parenthood and their careers to grow their jewelry business.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I think passionate work is always kind of like that,” Sean said. “You get into it as much as you can. “

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