Nearly 11 years ago, a girl and her mother went into a fabric store to pick out fabric for a dress. Along with the fabric, the girl left the store with a small package of black and white beads.
Those beads were the start of a jewelry-making career.
Jillian Brown, a Tabor College freshman from Minneapolis, has been designing and making jewelry ever since that day she brought home beads from the fabric store.
“My mother used to make me sew in 4-H,” Brown said. “One day I was griping in the fabric store so she made me go look at something else and they had a little package of beads on sale. She told me I could get it as long as I would come pick out fabric for my dress.
“I ended up buying this little package of black and white beads and played with them for a really long time, and then just slowly moved into other things. I’d see something and then wonder if I could make it.”
That curiosity to make new things helps Brown with her hobby and career. She makes jewelry to match her outfits, makes gifts for friends and sells pieces of her work in a flower shop in Minneapolis.
“I’ve done everything from just silly little things to wedding veils,” she said. “It (making jewelry) is pretty versatile.”
And now, several years and many beads later, her work is being noticed by other professionals.
According to Brown, because she is currently enrolled in a course at Bethany College, she was eligible to enter the college’s annual art contest.
Brown entered the Messiah Art Festival along with another 350 entries. Her artwork was juried and selected to compete in the show against 124 other entries.
Brown’s entry, “Spiral Slide,” won two honors: the merit award and best of show for freshman and sophomores. Brown received a certificate of achievement and a $50 cash prize.
“It’s like a basic slide necklace,” she said. “It’s sterling silver and it has flaps and it has a triangle attachment.”
While Tabor doesn’t have a major focusing on jewelry-making, Brown continues to learn more and improve her talent through classes at neighboring Bethany and Bethel colleges.
At Bethany, Brown has been introduced to new levels of jewelry making, but silver wire remains her favorite material to work with.
“This is the first time I’ve really gotten to get into the metal-smithing,” she said. “I’ve done wax casts, which does rings. I can work with silver and stone settings, things of that nature. I do a lot more soldering and manipulation of metals.”
Brown is an organizational communication major at Tabor.
“Jill works tirelessly and with little fanfare,” said Linda Cantwell, Brown’s adviser and assistant professor of communication.
“She has an entrepreneurial spirit and has been gifted to follow her passion-whether it be jewelry-making or any other area she so chooses.”
Brown’s goal for using her talent lies in starting her own jewelry and accessory business.
“I’d really like to have my own store where I do some accessories,” she said. “I do some purses, too, so I’d like to do maybe purses and jewelry and see where that goes.”