A Pop Culture Crafter Worth Geeking Out With

Jennifer Orefice

Consider yourself in pop culture heaven. Whether it’s David Bowie earrings, Louise’s bunny ears cap from Bob’s Burgers or the Mouse Rat band shirt from Parks and Recreation you’ve been desperately seeking, Jennifer Orefice has most likely made it with her own two hands. Currently located at Pittsburgh’s Public Market, Jenn’s Jems Jewelry & Accessories is the brainchild of Jennifer Orefice who, after working in Brooklyn as a nanny to celebrities children and consequently spending a lot of time on the set of 30 Rock, has come back to Pittsburgh to share some of her industry inspired creations.

Over the past 15 years, Orefice has brought on other local artists to help her create an eclectic array of wares. This year, Jenn’s Jems Jewelry & Accessories will be making a big move to their first permanent storefront in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. We sat down with Jennifer to find out what awaits beyond the horizon for her as a crafter and business owner during the next year.

Jennifer Orefice wearing a necklace she made with made with quartz, crystals, and dragon's vein agate.
Jennifer Orefice wearing a necklace she made with quartz, crystals, and dragon’s vein agate.

Julianna Bagwell: What kind of changes do you see coming for Jenn’s Jems Jewelry & Accessories as you make your transition into a permanent storefront?
Jennifer Orefice: I’m really excited for my own brick and mortar. I’ve experienced unbounded happiness, creativity and loyal customers through my shows and smaller shop in the Strip, and it is thanks to those things, that I feel ready to move out on my own. I see myself continuing to promote the idea of locally made goods and supporting other local artists. I’m also looking forward to holding more classes. Right now we hold monthly Stained Glass Mosaic classes, and I would love to add screen-printing, jewelry making and terrarium building into the mix. I’m overcome with joy when I think about the future. I’m aiming for the stars!

JB: How did your time working in television in NYC inspire your aesthetic?
JO: Living in NYC in general helped shape my aesthetic and taught me new skills. Working within the film industry showed me that people get just as passionate as I do about these shows and movies.
Additionally, there are so many artists in the big apple that I really had to define my work, learn new skills, and make myself stand out, which prepared me for the huge art scene here in Pittsburgh right now.
I loved being part of the artist scene in NYC, however I feel like I’ve really found both my niche and supporters here in Pittsburgh.

JB: What was the initial inspiration behind this style of crafting and how did it develop into a business?
JO: I’ve always had an appreciation for arts and crafts, but it wasn’t until I was gifted a big box of beads when I was 12, that I really picked up the skill and the desire to take it further. It started small with local church shows, where I only did jewelry at the time.
17 years later I’ve expanded to screen printed apparel, and I’ve joined forces with a few other artists, including my mother and sister, who bring different art forms to the business, such as stained glass mosaics and terrariums.

JB: Why have you chosen to focus many of your designs around popular culture?
JO: When I get into something, it often becomes all encompassing! I get very passionate about certain bands, tv shows, movies, etc and I’ve found that my customers do the same. In a sense, it’s a way to bring people together. I love the feeling when someone sees my Harry Potter items and we’re able to instantly make a connection. In an instant I’ve made a new friend who I can talk to about my favorite chapter, or house, or our frustration over Lord Voldemort! And the same goes for any of my pop culture and geekery goodies. These are things I’m wildly passionate about and so I really enjoy meeting people who feel the same way.