When entering a University Forest Apartment on campus, a visitor would expect to see band posters, gaming systems, photographs and sports paraphernalia. But this is not the case in the apartment where Elizabeth Timmis lives.
Instead, in the corner of the back living area there is a medium-sized table where bead boxes, spools of wiring, plier kits and endless amounts of string are stored. This small space in the apartment has now been deemed Timmis' "Crafting Corner."
One rainy day in her hometown of Westchester, N.Y., Timmis found a box of her mother's old beads and necklaces and at age 11, she began to create her own jewelry.
Her interest continued to thrive and in high school she started to sell her pieces to local boutiques to raise proceeds for Wildlife Trust, a wildlife conservation organization in New York that supports local conservation and global health.
As she transitioned into college life at Richmond, Timmis found it tough to keep up with her jewelry making, but last year she realized it was time to reinvest in her work.
While working as an accessories design intern at Ralph Lauren in New York City this summer, Timmis found that she had more free time than during the school year at Richmond.
Jordan Baxter, a good friend who was also working in New York City during the summer, was a huge factor in motivating Timmis to put together a website where she would be able to sell her jewelry.
One of Baxter's friends had recently created a website selling jewelry and she thought that it would be a good idea for Timmis. Baxter has known that Timmis would go places with her jewelry since the beginning of freshmen year.
"I told her, why not, you have so much free time," Baxter said. "Plus, it's always nice to have someone telling you to just do it."
Timmis carefully began to pick out colors for the site, create tags and specific names for her jewelry and take pictures of the jewelry for sale.
The website, titled Pennyfeather Jewelry, was launched just two weeks ago and Timmis has already had a few orders. The name Pennyfeather is composed of the name Penny, Timmis' dog's name, and the word feather, which Timmis said encapsulated the themes of art, freedom and beauty.
There are two places on the website where customers can browse items that are for sale: the store and specialty. The store includes pieces of classic jewelry that define Pennyfeather's whimsical inspiration as well as pieces that are readily available for shipment, Timmis said.
Her inspiration for one of the pieces in the store was a visit to the King Tut exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Timmis combined three different strings of beads and formed them into a vertical drop, reminding her of the steps at the Met.
She then named the necklace the "Metsteps Necklace." The specialty section of Pennyfeather displays the more intricate work that Timmis has done and the one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.
"That's when jewelry turns into art," Timmis said. "When it can't be replicated."
Some of the necklaces included in the specialty section are held close to Timmis' heart. The "Terra Necklace" was the necklace that Timmis created and wore when participating in Ring Dance.
The "Scarab Necklace" incorporates an Egyptian scarab beetle pendant that originally belonged to her mother.
"The specialty section offers people the opportunity to have a special piece of jewelry," Timmis said. "A piece of jewelry with its own story."
Many of the beads that Timmis finds for her designs have come from bead stores in New York City and in Florida, where her parents live during the winter.
Creating jewelry was not as easy or as quick as one might think, Timmis said. Some of the work that Timmis does takes between 45 minutes and two hours while other more elaborate pieces take between four and six hours.
"You'll be watching a movie together and Elizabeth will just be sitting there stringing beads," Baxter said.
Timmis, an English and Leadership Studies double major and a studio art minor, said she knew that she wanted to get into fashion after graduation.
Timmis is heading back to New York City for Fashion Week this weekend and will be styling jewelry on models during three runway shows.
Some people would consider Timmis an entrepreneur, but she shrugged off the idea and said she hadn't ever stepped foot into the Robins School of Business. With a radiant smile she said she was so relieved that after so many years, she had her own outlet for people to see her work.
"If you have an idea, or something you love, do it," she said. "And you can figure out a way to make it profitable."
Sloane True, one of Timmis' roommates, said that Timmis' passion for making jewelry had been evident throughout their four years at Richmond.
"I lived with her sophomore year and she had some bead boxes under her bed," True said. "When we came back from abroad last year, she had even more boxes.
"You can tell she has gotten more interested in it over the years and I can see how much she enjoys it."
The next focus for Timmis will be to try to create pieces of jewelry that are geared more towards her friends.
She said she wanted to start making jewelry that was less expensive to produce but would still look cute. The nice thing about having friends around, Timmis said, was that they could wear her jewelry before it sold and tell everyone they got it from Pennyfeather.
"We are my own PR firm," Timmis said.
Timmis will continue to design and create new pieces while completing her senior year. She promised to inventory and display new pictures of her work with the help of her portable photography set.
You can visit the website at: www.pennyfeatherjewelry.com.
Contact staff writer Bria Eulitt at email@example.com