“I am full to the brim with creative energy. Although growing up in a small Texas town provided little artistic encouragement, I never felt limited,” says Catherine Page on her quietly beautiful website where her Medieval-inspired, turquoise jewelry takes center stage. Limitless indeed, Catherine combines her resourceful waste-not-want-not attitude with her undergraduate degree in Art History at Baylor and masters in Medieval Art History/Flemish Renaissance at the University of North Texas and creates Texas-made jewelry that’s both breathtaking and incredibly personal. Find her gems at Julep Boutique at The Shops at Legacy.
I read that your inspiration is Medieval art history? Is there a person/designer that inspires you as well?
Art History is my first love and never stops giving. I’m actually inspired by very mundane or ordinary things. [I’ve written a piece on] “Inspirations” that years ago we did a postcard out of and had customers send in the card sharing their own inspirations which we posted online.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Perceptive, Honest, Direct.
What jewelry are you wearing right now?
Right now, I’m wearing only my father’s wedding band. He gave it to me two days before he died last April. That’s pretty much all I ever wear.
Is jewelry typically an accurate reflection of the person wearing it or of the person they aspire to be?
That’s tricky. I think that the jewelry a person wears is most often a reflection of who they are. At times, we admire jewelry that reflects who we aspire to be, but lack the confidence to make a commitment.
Is turquoise considered “classic” or does it “trend” ever so often?
Every stone or color “trends” at some point or another. For me, there’s good turq and bad turq. Bad turq is everywhere at every price level. I think that it’s a staple in the South for sure, but not universally.
What is a classic piece of jewelry every person should own?
When you think about it, all jewelry falls into two simple categories: sentimental or vanity. I make my living at the vanity kind, but I think every person should own a significant piece of the sentimental kind, something that tells a story, or holds a memory.
What has been your greatest accomplishment in this line of business?
This isn’t a very glamorous response but it’s honest. My greatest accomplishment in this business is that it continues to grow, be viable, and well received. If, at the end of my “illustrious” jewelry career I have four children that I have fed, clothed, insured, put braces on, paid tuition for, bought prom dresses and homecoming mums for, put in cars, sent to tutoring, gymnastics, basketball, football, dance, and college(!), then I will consider my career a success.
What inspires you?
That must be the hardest question for any artist to answer. I have whole days at the drawing board moving stones around. And then around some more. Creativity sneaks up like a scent you walk into but can’t pin down. In the luxury of aloneness you try to call it back, but it has gone somewhere. You’ve not lost it, just the ability to get rid of it. And this is how creativity is, insisting on a place inside of you but never quite cooperating. I find the best inspiration attached to the most familiar and deeply personal things around me. My favorite place in my house is my top dresser drawer. There’s a round geode in there I bought years ago from a gem show. “Gaaauranteeeeed” the man said, to be the real thing when cracked open. I will not, however, crack it open. Ever.
Also in my drawer is a small velvet-lined plexi-glass coin holder. It remains as a memorial of a real silver dollar that my uncle brought me when I was a little girl. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I was out in the street, flipping the coin, showing it off to a friend, when I dropped it and it rolled down a sewer grate. I lay on top of the grate and saw the coin shining up at me from far away. Oh, how I wished I could make time work backwards. I wouldn’t have flipped it, maybe not even taken it out of its case. I stared at the coin until my friend became irritable-insisting that it would be better if I couldn’t see it. I said, no, this way I could still have it a little. But the next day it was gone.
I have an Egyptian cartouche with my initials in hieroglyphs, my retainer, pennies that mean good luck because I found them facing heads up. I have a special edition box of crayons I never intend to use – “People Colors.” I just like the gathering of them, all perfect. I like to read the colors out loud, maize, burlap, spice.
I have the most well written thank you note I’ve ever received, and have often copied. I have a sealed envelope of journal entries that I ripped in retrospect from their notebooks because they were far too incriminating to be left in context.
I have a fantastic collection of headbands that I imagine wearing, if only I had someone else’s forehead. There’s a vintage tea towel printed with the year of my birth, a Ping-Pong ball, two double and triple A batteries, lithium. I have a key that I once hid for safekeeping, though now I don’t know what it unlocks. I have Chanel red lipstick in my drawer that I will never use but wish I would.
At the back of my drawer, I have an old high school yearbook I bought at a thrift store simply because of all the writings in it. To Susan…no room for any more messages, all the space filled by people congratulating her on being herself, and congratulating themselves on being her friend, unashamedly using “always” over and over and over again.
Sometimes I think, what if I died and someone looked in my drawer. I wonder what they would understand about me. Probably not so much. For one thing, they would get the crayons wrong, and probably the headbands. I’m certain they wouldn’t see a jewelry designer, but just a person much like themselves. In my drawer, I see a reverence for the most ordinary, a place to respectfully visit and be reminded of how mundane, and spectacular, and nuanced life is for each one of us. And for me, that reminder is what’s most inspiring.