“Artists in the Hilltowns reinvent 19th century barns and mills into light-filled creative spaces,” said fabric artist Kathy Ford, president of the HAA. “Seeing how people live and work in such a beautiful rural area is the unique experience of the Open Studio Tour."
Jen Parrish-Hill, a Worthington jewelry designer and sculptor, is one of the artists who has found a home in the Hilltowns. She moved here about eight years ago from Malden after previously having studied at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, taking classes in subjects such as stained glass as well as art history.
It’s her interest in history that animates many of Parrish-Hill’s designs — amulets, necklaces, earrings — which she crafts using old-style techniques, including applying a patina to give her pieces a time-worn look.
Her amulets are a particular study of work with an historical touch. She carves them from wax and then casts them into recycled sterling silver and bronze. The designs can incorporate elements from Victorian and Renaissance art, or even further back, such as amulets inspired by medieval tapestries and the windows of Gothic cathedrals.
“I like making accessories that are more than just something sparkly,” said Parrish-Hill. “To me, these pieces can tell a story or evoke emotion — it’s more than simple adornment.”
Her stylistic and historical touches — nature is also an inspiration — have attracted quite a few noted clients over the years. She created work for two historical exhibits for British museums, including one on Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered by henchmen of King Henry II of England in 1170.
And the “B” necklace she initially created for a Tudor production became a key piece of fashion for America Ferrera, who played the lead role on television’s “Ugly Betty,” the ABC comedy-drama series that ran from 2006 to 2010. Her work also popped up on some characters’ necks in “Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix.”
Parrish-Hill jokes that she’s kind of a shy person. But she says she’s really enjoyed being part of the Hilltown studio tour, both as a way to connect with the public and as a link to other artists in the Hilltowns.
So grateful to everyone who visited Frog Hollow, it brings me such joy to share my workspace with so many kind people. It reignites creativity and magic, having so many appreciative souls come through. It was heartening to hear folx step through the door and let out a "HOW MAGICAL" or "A FAIRYLAND" exclamation, feels as if I must be on the right track in life. Sometimes when our head is down in the work, we forget to appreciate our surroundings and how lucky we are. Seeing through other eyes helps. I was brought gifts of beautiful books and candles, when just making the journey out to my rural studio in the woods is gift enough in my mind.
Deep conversations ranging from Kate Bush to toolmaking, to (of course) my biggest inspirations: Nature and the Pre Raphaelites. At busy times, there were people I wish I had more time to talk with, sorry that I was a bit scattered! This country mouse is not used to that many visitors in such a short span, my voice was sore at the end of each day! But joyfully so.
(So busy, that this was the only visitor photo I took! :D )