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Denise / Salvij


Meet Denise Fitzgerald, owner and designer of Salvij jewelry in Seattle, Washington.  Denise has a passion for taking salvaged goods and crafting them into something new and beautiful.  Learn how she transforms used tin into contemporary one of a kind wearable works of art.  "If I can imagine it, I can make it".  


NATURAWLTell us about Salvij. How did the idea for the business come about?

Denise:  I have always loved to make and create. I am one of those people who looks at something and says "I could make that...".  My motto about recycling turning things into other things being like magic is so true for me.  My husband always jokes that where he sees a coffee can, I see earrings, a pendant, and a brooch, or where he sees scrap wood, I see a shelf, a stool, or a chalkboard.  The common theme for me over the years has always been taking something and changing its intended purpose. Thrift stores and garage sales are my happy places!

I chose the name (pronounced salvage) years ago and it has stood the test of time (and multiple products...).  I wanted the name to actually be "Salvage" but when I checked, the domain name was already taken.  I was looking for another word for salvage in a thesaurus and I saw the phonetic spelling of it /sal'vij/ and it was perfect! I am always excited to find new ways to reuse something and hope you enjoy a little of my magic!

NATURAWL I love how the vision for your pieces come directly from salvaged materials yet they have a very contemporary feel to them. Where do you get the inspiration for your unique designs and color schemes?

Denise:  I feel that people naturally think that when something is made from recycled materials that it has to look "recycled". The biggest compliment I get is when I explain what my pieces are made from and someone says "oh, I would never have known it was recycled". I love modern colorful pieces - I like to cut holes/shapes in paper or card stock and just move it over a tin and see what shows through the hole. It's like a small window or porthole into a world of color and patterns. Other times I see a shape in another piece of jewelry or pendant and use it as a layer.

NATURAWL How long have you been working with tin and where did you learn your craft?

Denise:  I have only been working with tin for about the last two years.  I fall into the "self taught" camp mostly.  Over time I have taken a couple of silversmithing and jewelry making classes - but mostly it has been a mind of matter challenge.  I see the pieces or designs I want to make in my head but have to figure out how to make them...usually via trial and error (and sometimes a few stiches).

NATURAWL:  Can you tell us a little bit about your process?

Denise:  I think I enjoy the hunt for tins and other materials almost as much as the actual creating part. In the beginning, once I had a tin, I would sit down with it and just sort of magically put something together. There wasn't a lot of process. I stared at the tin until an idea for a piece popped into my head.  Over time it has changed and I carry a little sketch pad - ideas for pieces come from various inspirations (as simple as as a label on a wine bottle, a painting, or the shape of a sign).  I roughly sketch (I am not an illustrator) designs and write notes for when I am back at the workbench. The colors and patterns on a tin coupled with designs in my sketchbook (or napkin or receipt, or whatever I have drawn on) then come to life.  One last way that pieces come to life for me are in the leftover...after I cut a shape for a piece, I sometimes see another piece almost perfect in the scrap that is left over.  Some of my favorite pieces were created this way.

NATURAWL:  How did your passion for repurposing eventually evolve into a business.

Denise:  My passion for reuse fuels my creativity.  I still have a "day job" jewelry making allows me the creative escape that my day job doesn't.  I am actually considering making the leap to jewelry making full time but I it is a scary leap to make

NATURAWL Your pieces are absolutely gorgeous and clearly crafted with care and passion.  What can we expect to see in the future for Salvij?

Denise:  There are two styles that I have really been exploring (and enjoying).  One is the use of various overlays (stainless steel and others) that swing freely above a recycled tin matching shape. I like the movement it shows and the fun see through designs.  The other is the addition of texture to the recycled tin.  The raised sections in patterns and random lines adds another dimension to the piece.

NATURAWL:  Sounds amazing and I can't wait to see how your pieces evolve.  Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Denise, it's been a pleasure learning about you and your craft.


Denise grew up in Hawaii and currently resides in Washington State with her husband, daughter and two cats.  She enjoys spending time at the beach to gain inspiration and peace.  You can check out her beautiful one of a kind pieces here.

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