I began taking jewelry courses in high school where I learned the basic skills of sawing, filing, soldering, polishing, casting and forging. From there I pursued a college degree, receiving a BFA in Metalsmithing from Syracuse University..
At an early age my mother taught me to knit, crochet, sew and embroider. In college I dabbled in a few weaving techniques. I still vividly remember being a junior in college and in the same week (unbeknownst to each other and from different departments, I don’t even think they were acquainted) my metalsmithing professor told me to try weaving metal and my weaving professor suggested I incorporate metal into my weaving. The seed was planted and although I did not explore it in depth at that time, I always knew it was a concept I would return to and delve into more seriously in the future.
How do you approach the design process from beginning to end?
It’s funny, I don’t have just one approach. Sometimes I have a design in my mind’s eye and then I search for the materials/gemstones to create it. Other times I stumble upon a magnificent gemstone or pearl and it instantly gives birth to a design. I don’t ever sit down and say, OK, time to design something new. Many of my ideas come to me when my mind is engaged in something very non-creative. (like driving!)
Who are your mentors and how have they guided you in your journey as a jewelry artist?
Just after I graduated college in 1982 I relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked for several designers and companies and as I look back on those places, each one taught me one or more valuable skills that were ultimately integral to me running a successful business on my own. Glenda Queen who owns Union Street Goldsmith in San Francisco was the first person to take a leap of faith, hire me and teach me about life in the “real jewelry world” which was very different from my academic experience in college. I worked for her for 6 1/2 years and then slowly began pursuing my own design work, taking on commissions, working as a contract laborer for small wholesale manufacturers, selling at wholesale and retail trade shows, etc. It wasn’t until 2000 that I actually felt ready to go it on my own with my woven jewelry. Every place I worked for is a valuable piece of the puzzle that comprises Marie Scarpa Designs.
Are you inspired by the work of any particular artist/s and if so, who?
This question reminds me of The Academy Awards, there are so many amazing artists I admire that before I got through the list the music would be playing indicating I should shut up and get off the stage and of course I would forget someone and feel badly about it later. Falcher Fusager is an amazing enamel artist whom I worked for and learned so much from.