Maker Profile: Sierra Winter Jewelry

Sierra Otto is the creator of Sierra Winter Jewelry, launched in 2016. Her gorgeous designs are a unique mix of global influences and inspiration from the beauty of the Kansas prairie, where she grew up. These lustworthy pieces are handcrafted using high-quality metal and genuine stones. In addition to making waves as a jewelry designer, Sierra is a brand-new mom to a darling little girl. Here, Sierra shares a little bit about herself and her work. 
All photos courtesy Sierra Winter

All photos courtesy Sierra Winter

Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?

To be honest, I got burnt out working in the corporate world. I had an amazing job and was designing jewelry constantly but just needed to take a breath. I kept thinking about what my five-year plan was and I didn't see myself there. I wanted to start my business and get things rolling before my husband and I started a family. So that is what I did. I found out I was pregnant with our baby girl the week before I launched Sierra Winter Jewelry. So getting things rolling before starting a family turned into doing it all of it at the same time!


Where does your design process start?

When I sit down to design, I always start by drawing a straight vertical line down the center of a piece of clean white paper. I like working in a clean and organized space whether it's my studio or the material I'm working with. Once I start designing I draw everything to scale. Meaning if the piece of jewelry is going to be 1.5mm thick or 34mm wide in production then my drawing needs to be exactly those dimensions. I do front view, side views, and color coded maps so I can communicate exactly what the piece needs to look like with my suppliers. It's important to be as descriptive as possible.


What are you making right now?

One of my 2017 goals is to get my license to pierce ears. I am currently designing a small collection of 14K gold earrings and want to offer 'free ear piercing with a purchase of a pair of earrings'. Stay tuned folks and hopefully you will trust me to pierce your ears!


That’s exciting! Sign me up. Where would you offer these services?

I would love to do piercing events at my pop-ups. I'll keep you posted, MIKC!


What are your favorite metalsmithing tools?

I love my hammer. There is something oddly therapeutic about banging a hammer.  


What things do you find yourself constantly going back to for inspiration?

I always find myself looking at vintage and global rugs and textiles.


How do these patterns find their way into your work?

The patterns give me ideas for lines and shapes in the motifs in my designs. I would love to say the patterns I create are all in my head but I need some help getting there. In my former jewelry career, I used lots of scrolling and floral patterns on my designs. To get inspiration for these, I looked at art nouveau era silverware and Aubrey Beardsley pen and ink drawings.


Where is your favorite place to travel? What’s next on your travel bucket list?

I love me some mountains in the summer time. In August, my husband and I are taking our baby girl to her first bluegrass festival in Keystone, Colorado. Currently, my travel bucket list is Iceland and Vietnam.


What’s your favorite happy hour drink?

This is tough. Happy hour is my jam. You can find me at Bier Station on a Friday evening sipping on a cold one or at District in Waldo. District has an amazing sweet and spicy drink called the Chihuahua. I also enjoy happy hour on my patio with a  glass of Rougeon from Prairie Fire Winery in Paxico, KS. My dad has a vineyard in Manhattan, Kansas and his grapes are used in the Rougeon. It's pretty dope.


So is that an open invitation?

The Otto patio is always open. We can't get too rowdy though because we might wake the baby!


Current song or album you’ve been listening to, book you're reading, or Instagram account you're following?

Music: Kendrick Lamar, Sturgill Simpson, ... and Garth Brooks

Instagram: @fashiondads_ (it makes me laugh really hard). @gemgossip (for beautiful jewels) @loomandkiln (for my rug fix and inspiration)