Today’s FACES are twins Sarah Knox and Liz Anderson, the designing duo behind Modern Bronze. Artisan jewelry handcrafted in Franklin, Tenn., the Modern Bronze line infuses history and romance with age-old designs that feel fresh and current. Here, the sisters share the inspiration behind their gorgeous jewelry, offer advice to other young designers and reveal a few of their favorite things about living and working in Williamson County. We love these talented women and are thrilled to have them as this week’s FACES interview. Welcome Sarah and Liz!
Did you both major in design? What are your college backgrounds?
Sarah: I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in art from MTSU, and I went back to school later and studied graphic design.
Liz: I have a fine art degree with a major in painting from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
What led to designing jewelry?
Sarah: I’ve always been creative — painting, ceramics, jewelry — and always thought I’d have a creative career. And when I worked at A Thousand Faces in Hillsboro Village, I was encouraged by the owner, Linda Turner (who is an artist and jewelry designer), to start creating a line of my own. I did, briefly, and enjoyed it, but then I realized it was the perfect opportunity to join up with Liz. We have always dreamed of collaborating on a creative career.
Liz: I took a metals and jewelry course while at SCAD on a whim and really loved it. I enjoyed the creative-yet-utilitarian nature of the work. So when Sarah invited me to partner up, I was 100 percent in!
Why the name Modern Bronze?
Sarah: To start, we definitely wanted the word “bronze” in our name, so that people would know that what we’re doing is a little different. Bronze is an ancient metal, long ago used for jewelry, vessels and weapons. We loved the history … loved the rosy, golden-hued metal and wanted to evoke a sense of the ancient while designing modern pieces that look completely fresh. Also, we didn’t want to go the traditional jewelry designer route of naming the line after ourselves.
How do you weave history into designs?
Liz: Our designs have always been and continue to be inspired by just about all eras of time and from many regions of the world. If we need inspiration, for example, we’ll look at unearthed Viking jewelry or renaissance portraiture, Tudor crowns, illuminated manuscripts, Moroccan architectural motifs, antique star charting tools or coins.
What are each of your roles in the design process?
Liz: As twins, we’ve practically been collaborating on everything since birth. So we have a very easy, natural design partnership.
Sarah: We firmly believe our most successful, most creative pieces are a direct outcome of the two of us sitting down face-to-face with a sketchbook and brainstorming, bouncing ideas back and forth until we come to a final product we both love. But we’ve also created plenty of designs on our own. Liz tends to create statement pieces using oversized raw gems and swaths of hammered metal, and I have a more refined, delicate aesthetic.
What are your favorite pieces in your collection and why?
Liz: I’m loving the moons right now. I wear the Moon Phase earrings all the time. They’re sort of tribal and graphic, but they also feel magical.
Sarah: Right now, the Oracle earrings and necklace. The combination of my favorite stone, labradorite, with the stars makes me happy. And also the antique zodiac medallions — I love the sparkle of the tiny crystals that form the constellations.
You are twins. Does the sibling bond make it easier or harder to collaborate?
Liz:It can be both, honestly. We feel crazy-blessed that we get to be together every day while doing work we are passionate about. And we are better designers together than apart. But of course we argue about design and everything else, just like all siblings. And then 60 seconds later we’ve moved on. So we have a very honest, very forgiving partnership.
Sarah, you recently became a mother. How has that impacted your work?
Sarah: It takes me much longer to get less done! It turns out babies are high maintenance. Seriously, though, I’m happy that I do what I do, so that I can be with Finn more. Also, I want to show him that if he works hard and has vision, he can do anything he wants in life, just like my parents showed me.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a jewelry or clothing designer?
Liz: Make sure what you’re offering is unique and well made. There are tons of jewelry and clothing designers out there; make something your customers can only get from you, and make it with quality craftsmanship. It will show!
Sarah: Sketch and get ideas down on paper quickly, or make them as soon as you think of them. And don’t give up when it gets really hard and seems like a creative waste of time or you get negative feedback. And do everything! Craft/art shows, private parties, online sales, social media, marketing, contact stores you think your product would fit into.
If I were not a designer I would …
Liz: In a perfect world, I’d be a gentlewoman farmer with time for painting, cooking and making all kinds of things.
Sarah: I was going to say high school art teacher or police officer, but what she said sounds really fun!
Describe your fashion style.
Liz: Dark bohemian.
Sarah: Ha, light bohemian.
What do you do to find new inspiration for designs?
Sarah: We sit down and bounce ideas around and sketch while searching the web for references for motifs and shapes, techniques and to source materials. Often, going and buying at gemstone shows is plenty of inspiration. We’ll see a strand of something new, unusual or particularly beautiful and start to get ideas right away for how to use it in a design.
Favorite Will Co restaurant?
Sarah: La Terraza in The Maples shopping center on Murfreesboro Road. It’s a relaxed place, which suits me well, and the people and food are wonderful.
Liz: Sperry’s. It’s so cozy and old fashioned (in a good way), and you can count on an excellent meal and service.
Aside from family, friends and God, what are three things you can’t live without?
Liz: Leggings, horror movies and artisan goods by fellow makers.
Sarah: Now that I’m a mom, I realize sleep is a big one! Lip balm and reading while I snuggle my dog, too.
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