We often question whether it is nature or nurture that awakens our creativity. Joanne Koenig believes that her family provided both. As a young girl watching her mother paint portraits, she gained an appreciation and understanding of color and design. However, the hours she spent sitting with her father tying flies provided her with the patience and skill to complete each piece of jewelry with precision.
The “nurturing” honors belong to her sisters-in-law.
Joanne, by profession a counselor, began creating her line of jewelry, JK Designs, almost accidentally. Twenty years ago, her beloved sister-in-law, Susie Koenig, lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 40. Susie, who had never married, left her large jewelry collection to Joanne and her three daughters. “She travelled the world and lived for many years in Latin America, so her pieces tended to be large and showy,” Joanne explained. Rather than letting the jewelry sit unused, Joanne began taking it apart and redesigning pieces more to her taste.
Joanne worked with her inherited jewelry for a few years, but gradually realized she had found a niche creating custom jewelry. With the encouragement of her sister-in-law, Dusty Koenig, a jewelry designer from Edmonds, Joanne began collecting her own supplies from trade and gem shows. She began collecting her own supplies from trade and gem shows. Investing in new tools also allowed her to make her designs continually more intricate. In 2004, another sister-in-law, Barb Koenig, owner of Main Street Gallery in Chelan, encouraged Joanne to place some of her pieces on consignment in the store.
“It’s been fun having a family member as one of our artists,” Barb said. “And in addition to art, Main Street Gallery offers a wide variety of women’s clothing we often refer to as wearable art. Joanne’s variety of jewelry makes a nice statement with our selection of clothing.”
Summer is an especially popular season for Western Washington residents to visit the beautiful Chelan area, so a stop at Main Street Gallery might be in order. Similarly, Cheryl Selby, owner of Vivala in Olympia, reminded me that summer, not necessarily the winter holidays, is also their high-volume season. “With two flourishing marinas, a thriving Olympia Farmers Market, and the Dash dropping off tourists, our shop can be very packed.” One of the first jewelry displays that folks see when they visit Vivala is JK Designs.
“Being a small business owner,” Cheryl explained, “I like to showcase local women artists and their businesses. We have been pleased to offer Joanne’s jewelry since 2014.” Joanne periodically changes her selection of earrings, necklaces and bracelets at Vivala, which are recognizable for their combinations of wire, pounded copper, and stonework designs.
JK Designs’ signature piece, the Stackable Bracelet, can easily transform into a long necklace or a choker. It is the most popular piece at both Main Street Gallery and Vivala. Changing one piece of jewelry to compliment your clothing and your mood – how wonderful is that! With the detailed beadwork and color variation, the stackable bracelet is an unusually adaptable accessory.
Whether the customer is looking for chunky or classic, Joanne’s metal wrap and pounding of metal provide unique looks to complement all clothing styles. “One of my favorite pieces is on the funky side that came to me when we were visiting Hawaii,” Joanne recalled. “I tend to be more subdued in my own tastes, but I do favor this mermaid inspired necklace; however I create designs to suit all my customers.”
Joanne has made custom pieces for her daughters and some of their friends, especially for weddings. When customers request just the right color, gem and size, she is willing to oblige. She keeps her designs up to the minute in style and colors, and her prices are affordable.
Mary Wildenhaus has enjoyed wearing the JK Design jewelry that her husband has given her over the years. “Since I often get compliments when I wear Joanne’s jewelry,” Mary said, “I asked if she would donate to the GRuB annual Soiree Silent Auction. She has generously donated some of her handmade jewelry several years in a row, and it has been very well received.” Joanne has also graciously supported other community fundraising events.
When visiting Joanne’s design hideaway, it is amazing to see her endless tools and supplies, all so well organized. “Since most of my pieces are one of a kind,” she said, “I do need a variety of metals and stones on hand.” As an afterthought, she laughed, “Maybe I don’t need all these beads, but I intend to use every one of them before I die!” Obviously, JK Designs is here to stay!
Contact Joanne Koenig and JK Designs by email or by phone at 360 402-7574.