Vintage Vamp and Paper Pieces by Vicki were vending next to each other at the ” I Do” event hosted by Two Caterers in March of this year when I first became aware of the “Vamp’s” amazing jewelry creations. It was love at first sight!! That day, I purchased one of her eclectic necklaces: long chain with an antique key, large rhinestone, a little photo box and a crown. Since I bought it, I’ve added a few other charms with Teresa’s blessings. I also fell in love with a gorgeous blue and green bracelet made from antique buttons and small beads. Loved it so much that I ordered a custom made piece for my sister made from black buttons that I got to pick myself! Then it was a pair of lovely green earrings and my last purchase was a dragonfly + crystal bead necklace…can you tell I would LOVE to buy one of everything?
The Vamp is actually former art teacher, Teresa Morbitzer. After teaching art full-time in public schools for 20 years, she chose to teach half-time which allowed her to start her own business. About 8 years ago, she became a traveling artisan, doing over 30 juried shows a year ranging from the tri-state area to Virginia and Tennessee living her lifelong dream of being a self-supporting artist. Eventually, she opened an Etsy.com shop (about 2-3 years ago).
Teresa has a BA in fine arts and education from Muskingum College and has taken continuing education courses in jewelry and metals. She is originally from northeastern Ohio in the Warren area or as she says: ‘where there were more cows than people!” and has been married for almost 20 years. Originally, she had a science scholarship to Muskingum and wanted to become a medical illustrator. However, after getting the first “C” in her life in biology , she chose to change her major to art where she was receiving “A+”. Eventually, after teaching in a small community, she started her career with Columbus City Schools. To supplement her income teaching, she waited tables at Plank’s where she met her hubby, Steve.
After teaching for so many years, she lost her ‘taste’ for teaching, feeling that it had drained her creativity. So she chose to take the leap and become an entrepreneur….Thus Vintage Vamp was born! Although she feels that working for yourself is so much harder than a 9-5 job, she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Especially since she now has two young children, Rachel and Slane.
Once she made the decision to start her own business, she and Steve began to search for a home that also had a studio that she could use to create, display her work and have customers visit. The search led to a lovely little brick house in German Village on what was once called Poor Man’s Lane (a pig farm was actually across the street from their house at the turn of the 20th century!) In addition to this charming house, there was a studio apartment above the garage that could be converted into a studio/guest room. Initially, Teresa, Steve and Rachel lived in the studio as they rehabbed their home and at one point, a relative lived there for a year. Now it is a dedicated studio for Vintage Vamp with a playroom/guest bed area for family visits. I must say that when I entered this space, I thought I had entered a fairy tale come true! What a beautiful area to create…totally jealous!!! The breeze wafted through the place and light poured through the windows. Decorated with local artists’ works and beach themed colors, I would never want to leave there!!!
That being said, I brought myself back to the reality that this was NOT my space and began our discussion about what inspires Teresa to create her unique pieces.
She is inspired by anything sparkly, vintage or unused like cast-off items…inspired by past to evoke the vintage spirit within all of of her customers. She likes to say she searches for anything a “crow would want to peck at!!” Perusing flea markets, estate sales and local thrift stores has led to most of her creations. She searches for vintage and antique findings, reclaimed beads, buttons, brooches, chains, watches and industrial pieces to re’vamp’ into the unique pieces that are her signature. As she states: ‘I honor forgotten and cast off vintage and antique findings by reusing them to create unique jewelry’. Using small metal working techniques, such as soldering, riveting and wire wrapping she creates her original and handmade designs. Every one of her pieces has it’s own unique personality. Although her pieces may have some similarities in materials or techniques, no two pieces are the same…what I absolutely love about her jewelry.
Often times, Teresa just dumps her finds on a work table and the way they fall leads to inspiration for a new design. That is how she developed the design for some of her most recent chokers and necklaces. Her creative process is likened to a waterfall…one locket/bead/key/etc. leads to the creation of one piece of jewelry that leads to another piece and then onto another piece so that the original piece exponentially grows into more inspiration. It may be that she holds onto one brooch for months before the other pieces fall into place for a unique creation. Recently, she has also been fascinated with watch faces and has begun to create earrings by punching holes into top and bottom of face and attaching earring findings, hooks and beads. Like Walter Herrmann, she creates every day. That way, she is able to hone her skills and build upon the pieces she has already create.
In addition to showing her work to customers in her working studio, she vends at numerous fairs and shows within a 10 hour driving radius. Every week through December, Teresa will be busy vending at a variety of shows, all of which can be found on her Etsy.com site under ‘announcements’. This summer, after 3 years of trying, she made it into the Three Rivers Art Festival in Pittsburgh…a huge coup and success for her business. On August 23-24, she is excited to be participating in a show called Bella Rustica , a “beautifully styled affair at one of Nashville’s premiere rustic venues, Legacy Farm, just 30 minutes from downtown.”
Teresa’s jewelry can also be found at the Columbus Museum of Art, T. David Collection in the Short North (772 N. High St.) and Green Velvet Store in Granville (130 E. Broadway). Just this week she added New Albany’s Vintage Restyle Store at 15 E. Main St. to her retail spaces! Other boutiques and stores throughout Ohio also carry her creations.
After almost 4 hours of talking, interviewing, laughing, sharing a bottle of Chianti and exchanging “working in a school district” stories, I had to pack up my bag and head back home…trust me, it was difficult to part company with such a delightful lady and her studio space! And you best believe I’ll be saving up for another Vintage Vamp accessory!
To contact Teresa: