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Interview with jewelry maker Ann Mazzanovich

Necklace by Ann Mazzanovich
Ann Mazzanovich is someone who I've worked with on the travel articles that I do together with my wife, Patty. In addition to helping shepherd travel-journalists and photographers around US destinations managed by her employer, PR firm Geiger & Associates, it turns out that Ann has a few other equally interesting sides to her personality. One, she studied sculpture at art college. Two, she comes from a family with a very interesting past. And three, she is still involved in art as a maker of jewelry.

Philip: You studied sculpture at art school. How did you get from there to making jewelry?

Ann: I’ve had a fascination—or some might call it an obsession—with jewelry my entire life. I had worked with beads and wire since I was small, but in college I began selling my work to make a little extra money. After graduating with a BFA in Sculpture from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, I found selling my sculpture to be a difficult and lengthy process, often ending in heartache. I would spend countless hours on pieces only to be haggled down on the price, or worse yet, receive a free critique and not sell them at all. I found my jewelry to have a much more universal appeal, and it offered me the instant gratification I craved. Instead of laboring weeks or months over a piece, it was more like creating “sculptural sketches” which were done fairly quickly, fawned over and sold!

Philip: What sort of jewellery do you make?

Ann: I work mostly with vintage glass beads, semi-precious gems and sterling wire. I love the crazy colors and shapes of vintage beads and the challenge of incorporating them into a necklace. I also make wire-wrapped rings, which connect me to my background in sculpture the most.
Necklace by Ann Mazzanovich
Philip: You also have a busy life as a PR person working for Geiger & Associates. How do you balance the time between working and making?

Ann: Honestly, it’s a bit of a necessity. I’ve always been a crafter, a cook, a creative person, and tend to get depressed if I stay away from it too long. Being on the road so much means I’m in the studio less these days, but when I’m home I usually manage to find some time in the evenings to turn off the TV, tune in to NPR and get lost in the beads for a while.

Philip: Someone told me that your great-grandfather was the painter Lawrence Mazzanovich, and that his wife had a connection with Nina Simone. Could you tell us something about them?

Ann: Yes, my great-grandfather, Lawrence Mazzanovich, was born in 1872, right around the time his parents emigrated to the U.S. from Croatia. He became one of the early American Impressionist painters and was quite well known in his day. 
Verdant Country Landscape, Lawrence Mazzanovich, c. 1915
I was named after his first wife, Ann, who we think had a lot to do with his early success (at least I’d like to think so!). However, in 1923 he left my great-grandmother and my grandfather, who was a child at the time, and moved to Tryon, NC where he eventually married Muriel (Harrington) Mazzanovich. In Tryon, Lawrence created some of his most admired works, and Muriel, known as “Miss Mazzy,” taught piano. Eunice Waymon, better known as Nina Simone, was one of her students.
Yes, THAT Nina Simone!
She began her formal music training with Muriel; I think she was only about 10, and several benefactors contributed to this early start of her career. My great-grandfather died before I was born, but in the 70s my parents would take us up to Tryon to visit Muriel, who still lived alone and taught piano until the day she died at age 102 in 1985. How I wish I had some of her genes as well!

Philip: Finally, how would someone go about obtaining some of your jewelry?

Ann: I mostly sell my work through two galleries: Humidity Gallery in Tallahassee, FL, and Newbill Collection by the Sea in Seaside, FL. You can also contact me about the work on my website,, and get information on upcoming shows there.

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