For as long as she can remember, Jill Italiano has been making things, always thoroughly enjoying the creative process. After a time period working as a chef and then as a studio director for jewelry company based in Manhattan, Jill was inspired to start her own Eco-friendly jewelry brand, which she named The House of Metalworks.
She brought The House of Metalworks to the Cigar Factory in November 2014, where she spends every day in her studio #124 handcrafting a wide variety of metal jewelry. She found The Cigar Factory online and, without high expectations, made an appointment to view a studio there. After seeing hers, knew right away that this was the perfect spot. “I love the big windows, the exposed brick,” Jill explains. “It has a lot of character.”
Her jewelry-making process, tools, and materials are much the same as a blacksmith’s. She strikes, tumble polishes, hand polishes, and assembles each piece, spending a three full hours to create every piece of jewelry. “I have a favorite sledgehammer! It’s crazy,” she says, when describing the vigorous process of striking each piece by hand.
The jewelry line makes it easy for customers to personalize their selections, with the knowledge that the materials are always recycled, reclaimed, and sustainable. The pieces are simple yet elegant, featuring such symbols as the Tree of Life, the Eye of Horus, and the lotus flower, with other handcrafted pieces providing inspirational words and phrases, a loved one’s name, or map coordinates of a memorable place.
The Cigar Factory Artist Studios is an emerging artist community in Allentown, Pennsylvania’s art district. The site formerly belonged to the Bondy and Lederer Cigar Company, and consists of a 101,239 square-foot repurposed cigar factory on North 4th and Green Street. Today the building houses galleries, shops, and 45 artist studios. The building at 707-715 North 4th Street has been around for over 100 years, first as a Cigar Factory, then as a center for artists and their work.