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Made in Chicago: Trace Ellements

By Jess D'Amico in Arts & Entertainment on May 23, 2008 7:17PM

2008_05_TraceEllements.jpgWe're of the firm opinion that, while you can have too much of almost everything, this rule does not apply to accessories. Especially when those accessories happen to be gorgeous natural stone pendants, vintage pins and colorful key chains. We especially love this "All Eyes On You" filigree necklace (pictured).

Tracy Ellison, a perpetually 28 year old Chicago native, is the owner of Trace Ellements, a boutique for the slightly earthy but sophisticated. The vintage designs are by far our favorites, but the bottle stoppers come in a close second.

One of Tracy's bracelets was featured in "A Prelude to a Kiss" with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan. Alec Baldwin holds it up closely to his face in one scene and, "It's the focus of the story for a moment and a real thrill for me," Tracy says of the experience.

Alongside jewelry-maker, Tracy has worked as a photo stylist, advertising writer, and cake decorator. She shared her thoughts with us about how she learned to give up the "Martha Stewart Perfection Quest" and what she's questing for instead.

Chicagoist: How do you make your art stand out from everything else out there?
Tracy: I try to use a wide variety of elements…hence the name, Trace Ellements (2 Ls for the French word for “she”). I try to keep things interesting, ultimately I like to raise an eyebrow or get a flash of a smile from people when they view my pieces.

C: Where do you want to go with your art? Where do you see yourself in five years?
T: I’d like to work on some of my others ideas I’ve got simmering in the back of my head…I’ll need to figure out where to eek out that time though, my days are very full right now. But in the future I’d like to get back into the east and west coast trade shows again, I took time off from traveling to have and raise three great kids, but at some point soon I’d like to hit the boutique markets again. In the meantime, the Internet has afforded me the opportunity to still stay creative and interact with my customers without dropping out of the game.

C: How did you start making stuff?
T: I’ve always been making something out of nothing as I like to say. I’ve been repurposing materials ever since I was little. One day I started taking apart old jewelry and playing around with balance, color and scale, then I started incorporating found objects and when I looked up a new jewelry line had emerged. I was working in advertising at the time and my friends at work expressed an interest in buying my things, they bought lots and gave me the confidence and I never stopped designing or selling ever since.

C: Why is the sky blue?
T: It’s the logical choice: we’d tire of pink, gray would be too dismal, black, blue and purple are totally unacceptable and green has already been taken in the other direction. Seems to make perfect sense to me!

C: What does your process look like?
T: A big crazy mess! I can’t seem to stop and put things away while creating, I’ve got too many ideas waiting in my peripheral sights to clean up…I could use a couple more hands.

C: What's the best thing about Trace Ellements?
T: I have a huge selection of designs and color options and a wide variety of essential accessories I’ve reinterpreted for everyday living. From jewelry to gift items, you’ll find unique pieces for yourself and gifts for friends all in one place. I try to be my own indie boutique.

C: Tell us a secret. . .
T: I dream in beads.

C: What's the Chicago art scene look like for you?
T: Rich and filled with really talented people that pump great ideas into the universe.

C: Where do you see that culture going?
T: Getting nothing but bigger and better.

C: Any advice for beginners wanting to sell their stuff?
T: Have patience and persist, find your niche and create pieces that you love and the translation of that art will speak to people. I also think it’s important to carefully consider exactly who your demographic is and place you and your designs in front of the right customers.

Wanna be featured or know someone who should? Tell us: MadeinChicago[at]chicagoist[dot]com