Oh, hey y’all! You know what time it is? It’s time to Meet the Maker (ok, that actually sounds kind of ominous now that I’m writing it out). Well anyway, this is our next installment of my favorite blog pieces, where we get to learn a little more about some of the makers I feature in my shop. In today’s blog post, get ready to meet one of the coolest makers—Jaydee Devine, the owner of Shop Uh-Huh. Of course, you can find some of her gorgeous clay jewelry on New Origin Shop.
We’ll start with the most important question, how are you doing in 2020? Both personally and professionally.
Okay, wow. That’s a loaded question for sure. I have so many feelings I don’t even know how to organize and categorize them; it seems that most days are filled with labored sighs and furious typing. I think the whole world is emotionally exhausted right now – and stretched way beyond their limit – the same is true for me.
But there are certainly silver linings here. I signed a lease on March 1st for my dream studio space; it’s just large enough for me to create and also host small gatherings and workshops. Unfortunately, we all know what happened in mid-march. It’s so difficult being on the precipice of building something new only for it to completely fall apart. But, having this space has been a welcomed shelter to escape into. I’ve been able to create a daily practice that acts like a form of self-care. It’s quite literally been a life saver.
We have to ask about the name of your brand: Uh-Huh. How did your branding originate?
I was actually working with clay long before Uh–Huh was established, for a while it was just a nice hobby to keep me grounded. I began to wear my pieces into my day job and found myself having the same conversation over and over again...
“Oh, I love your necklace! Did you make it?”
“Those earrings are great, did you make them too?”
“I need some, do you sell them?”
Thus, Uh–Huh was born! Before I knew it, I had an etsy shop and was asked to do a few markets. I had an acquaintance (Kelly Clawson) do the logo and a really good friend (Alison Czinkota) do a postcard illustration that I include in all my orders. I highly recommend leveraging your network when you venture out to do something new!
You’re pretty open that you started Uh-Huh as a way to combat depression. The more makers I speak to (myself included) don’t actually start making things with money in mind. Do you think there’s a benefit to having your origin rooted in self-improvement first?
For a while there I was really lost. Moving to a new city with a long term partner in your late 20s is actually incredibly difficult—how do adults even make friends?? I ended up on a business trip for my day job where I was asked how I was adjusting to the city. After politely listening to how alone I felt, a colleague from another location commented “well, it doesn’t seem like you’re trying very hard.” And she was right. I wasn’t really trying, I was sort of just letting myself slip deeper and deeper into what I now know as Major Depressive Disorder. So I found a therapist whom I was able to establish a treatment plan with; this included meditation, medication, and a commitment to leave the house even when I didn’t feel like it.
I’ve always been really interested in learning new things and trying out different creative pursuits but never really found my niche. I guess it makes sense as I grew up in a family of creators—my grandmother is a watercolor artist, my father makes surfboards, my mother was an expert in computers before computers were even a thing, my sister builds houses, and I have a handful of relatives who are photographers and chefs—everything fascinated me so I could never settle on just one thing.
When it came to finding something to get me out of the house, the decision was clear, I became a member of a local arts center. I did photography, ceramics, metalsmithing, printmaking—really I just signed up for anything that looked interesting. Through all of these experiences I began to form a mini arsenal of opinions, approaches, and practices. Eventually, I found polymer clay and began to create objects with skills I learned from each of these endeavors. It sort of just stuck and a business grew up around it.
2020 has been a complete mess, and if I didn’t have orders to fulfill or a studio to go to, I can one hundred percent guarantee that it wouldn’t be a good look for me…this business feeds my soul and keeps me sane.
So you started dabbling in all kinds of mediums and artforms in 2017—including photography and metalsmithing. What is it about polymer clay that spoke to you more than anything else?
Polymer clay is so versatile and easy to use, it’s also very forgiving! While I loved metalsmithing, it didn’t seem like something I could do at home—as someone who has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, having a practice I can do at home is essential. Polymer clay is very accessible because you can find it in any craft store and cure it at home. You don’t need any special tools to get started and can use household objects for many of the techniques, it is incredibly approachable for beginners but also challenges you to keep honing your skills—I’m always learning something new and continue to be inspired by the medium.
So one of the very first things you see when visiting your website is that you include a free gift with every purchase (which is very sweet). What was the background behind this idea?
This idea definitely grew out of necessity. I love to experiment and I hate to waste things. Another huge passion is teaching, I actually went to university with the intention of becoming a history teacher—but that’s a story for an entirely different interview. When I became comfortable with the skills I learned, it made sense to me to share those skills with a larger community (not to mention, I could make a few friends that way 😉). New students need space to experiment and play—conservation generally is not top of mind here. I ended up with a lot of materials that wouldn't lend themselves to my work and couldn’t really be repurposed for future workshops. I came up with the idea of repurposing these materials into a gift with purchase. It’s a great way to repurpose the material and add a smile to my customers faces!
I couldn’t help but recognize a couple of the models on your site...you and me! Now I’m curious about all of the other models on your site. Are they all customers? Friends?
I absolutely love collaborating with other creatives. Some of them are customers (looking at you girl 💞) and some are IG friends (yes, also you 🤣). As I mentioned before, leverage your network! If you admire someone’s work, reach out and let them know! You never know what kind of relationships will be built through those connections.
One of the things I love about your work is the wide variety of colors, shapes, and forms that you use. Do you have a favorite collection or piece that you make?
I feel like with each collection I’m focusing on something totally new. I really love the organic fluid shapes in the Stone Age Collection and am really into my newest set Recollection—these are much more rigid and inspired in part by Bauhaus design aesthetics. It might be the quarantine talking, but lately I’ve been much more into moody desaturated tones, I’m currently working on a line that will be much more minimalist in theme—I’ve been immersed in the works of Hilma af Klint and Ellsworth Kelly.
Coming from a family of artists and creators, do you bounce ideas off of them or are you more of a solo artist? Does being in Philadelphia inspire your work at all?
I was brought up to believe that the worst thing you could be was boring—which really sets you up to be an elitist asshole if you ask me. There’s this saying in my family “well, we’re Devines, what did you expect?” which is a flowery way of saying that we’re a clan of difficult people. So no, to answer your question, I don’t get the chance to bounce many ideas off of my family.
With that said, I’ve definitely found allies in the maker community. When impostor syndrome sets in, or when I’m feeling like an utter failure (*Siri queue Nobody Likes Me (Think I’ll Go Eat Worms)*), it is so helpful to have people you respect lift you up and say nice things about you. I have a weekly “accountability buddy” zoom meeting with a leather worker which is great for talking business and creativity with someone working outside of my medium.
Do you have any favorite makers?
Oh wow—thanks to the internet, the list is truly endless!! Given it’s entirely too large to simplify in a few bullet points, I’ll keep it close to home and list some of my fav Philly makers:
Those are a few of my faves, but I’m always looking to discover new makers—hopefully your customers will share some of their faves in the comments! (editor's note: You heard the lady!)
What do you love most about Uh-Huh? What’s your vision for the business 5 years from now?
I love being able to share my work with the world at large. Having a creative outlet is great, but there is something transcendent about putting it out in the world and connecting with others over it. I feel like I can’t see past the end of my nose right now, but as far a dream goes—I hope to be doing more of what I’m doing now; creating and connecting. I’m antsy for a vaccine to come out and this virus to be eradicated so that I can welcome people into my studio!
You can see more from Jaydee and Shop Uh-Huh on Instagram
See the full line of products: www.etsy.com/shop/shopuhhuh