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Renew, reclaim, create

Jewelry designer incorporates articles of past in her designs

Behind a secret door in the back of Glamarita, 911 ½ W. Garland Ave., is a long hallway with warm fabric draped on the walls.

At the end of the hallway is another door that leads to a room dedicated to the imagination; it is 1,195 square feet that oozes feminine charm where fashion and accessories are dreamt of and then brought to fruition.

One half of the space is used by Lynne Blackwood of Blackwood Art; the other is used by Alyssah Perez of Eco Chic Jewelry Designs, who reclaims and renews the broken and forgotten pieces of the past.

“When I pick up something like an old locket, I wonder where it has been, who wore it, what I could make it into and who will wear it once I have recreated it,” she said.

Perez, 24, moved out of her parents’ home at 16. A Cheney High School graduate, Perez considered being a doctor but life happens, plans change, and she stepped onto a road of creative endeavors after a handful of odd jobs. Her first job was as a section leader for the Spokane Indians at the Avista Stadium, then she became a certified master-level engraver at Things Remembered, and then she was a coffee server, a cocktail server, and a bartender.

At 19, she began making jewelry. “It started with me repairing pieces, turning single earrings into necklace pendants and vintage pins into rings,” she said. Now, she works full time on her designs, and her pieces can be found in more than three dozen area retail locations, including Fringe & Fray, the Bozzi Collection, Tangerine, and Tiffany Blue. Eco Chic is also in a shop in Hawaii and one in Alaska. Recently, Perez hired her first employee, Shelby Morton, a budding designer.

Her hand-crafted pieces are a mix of modern and traditional and include the reinvention of earrings, pins, rings, and broken and tangled items found in dusty boxes. Using industrial strength adhesive, a sealing agent, and an array of tools, Perez turns her salvaged finds into one-of-a-kind accessories; a single clip-on earring with a missing stone becomes a glass Swarovski pearl adorned pendant and bits of sparkle become a jewel-encrusted cuff bracelet. Other materials include agate, jasper, and quartz stone slices, keys, and small corked bottles filled with tiny watch parts. Her custom works incorporate sentimental pieces belonging to her clients.

With an eye for adorning the feminine form, Perez is trying her hand at clothing design and will be participating in Runway Renegades’ annual fashion show in August with a line of clothing that will mix leather and lace.