Justina Soto has created some beautiful things.
She’s the brains behind Citizen Jane jewelry, and somehow she knows exactly what we want: simple, comfortable, handmade. Read on to learn about her process, her summer style forecast, and her dream trip.
What were you doing before you started Citizen Jane, and how did you make the plunge into starting your own company? How long has Citizen Jane existed?
Although I’ve been working on jewelry for a while now, Citizen Jane is only about two months old. I just released the website this past March, so it’s super new and is my first official jewelry line. Before Citizen Jane, I studied ceramics in college, so for me the act of carefully sculpting something came naturally and the translating of soft to hard is a challenge that constantly springs new ideas.
Can you explain the sand casting method? And how you use old saxophone parts — that sounds rad.
Without getting too nerdy about it, the idea of sand casting is to place your carved wax ring in between two sand molds to create the shape. Then, after doing so, you remove the wax ring, create a pathway for the molten metal and pour your metal. After that, you have an exact replica of the wax ring! It’s really simple in design, which is ideal for working in Brooklyn: a place where artists typically have limited studio space.
As for the brass parts, I’ve made a point to gather used materials from different sources and saxophone parts are one of them. A friend of mine who happens to be an amazing sax player and instrument technician recently gifted me a ton of parts that I have made a point to use in the jewelry making process. The pieces themselves are cut into small parts and melted down just as if I were to have used regular casting grain. However, it feels way more poetic this way. I also just love the idea of reusing materials rather than letting things go to waste.
What or who are your aesthetic inspirations? Your rings sort of look excavated to me — ancient — like they’re Mesopotamian or from some Viking burial mound…lovely.
Thank you! That’s definitely a look that is brought on by sand casting. Typically I’m a huge fan of geometric and bold shapes, but in this line I expanded a bit and embraced some organic, nuanced textures. Some of the textures I created are inspired by the random curves and lines that occur in nature. We don’t have mountains or terrain here in NYC, so I’m a bit obsessed with the beauty of the outdoors.
In terms of designers, I really love Val Kasinskas and Justin Duance. Val Kasinskas uses hand forged, ethical, and recycled gold for her pieces and produces super clean and bold lines. Justin Duance is brilliant with sand casting and also has some fantastic pieces with wooden inlays.
How often do you add a new design to your collection? When does inspiration strike?
Inspiration for me starts while riding the subway or looking at street fashion. For example, I received inspiration for the Geo Ring by sitting across from a girl wearing a hexagonal septum piercing and I went home and decided I wanted to make a ring like that. As for right now, I’m working on seasonal lines, so the next time I include a new set of pieces will be during the Fall.
Are you more of a gold or a silver?
I’m definitely more of a silver kind of girl. For some reason, I find it easier to fit into every day outfits and situations. The nature of silver and rhodium is to reflect their surroundings, as we all tend to do, so that to me is more appealing.
How would you describe the trends in jewelry these days? What’s cool? There seems to be a move toward simplicity — or is that just me? Anything new going into summer?
For what I like to call artisan jewelry (anything not labeled “fine jewelry”), things are absolutely moving towards simplicity and I do think that modern, minimalist styles are sort of becoming the standard. Everyone is having an overload of images and ideas thrown at them on a daily basis. Perhaps people are trying to symbolically wipe the slate clean, and present more basic lines and colors. As far as trends go, I’ve been seeing a lot of hand-stitched leather being incorporated into necklace/pendants, sometimes in the form of pastel colors. I’ve also seen a lot of alternative jewelry materials like painted ceramic. I love it all!
What’s next for you and your line? What are your dreams for Citizen Jane?
For the fall, I will be adding earrings, necklaces and a dash of color to the designs. I’m also really excited about working with a model in the future and delving into the process of creating a look book.
What’s your dream trip?
My dream trip would be to go see the Northern Lights from either Alaska or Norway. I haven’t been to either place and it would probably be a religious experience to see such an intense vision.
What do you always take with you when you leave home?
I definitely bring a bold or dark lip color (like my Salem Lime Crime), just in case an event pops up in the evening and I need to transform. New York is such a fast-paced city and it’s important to have your go-to items on-hand so that you can adapt to different situations quickly.
Do you make any other kinds of art? What’s your style?
As far as fine arts goes, I’m definitely focusing most of my energy on jewelry. But if we’re speaking artistically in general, I’m actually a musician as well! I’ve studied singing and music since high school and continue to perform all over NYC. I perform everything from my original indie-r&b to traditional American songbook jazz and definitely believe in making the most of life and my time here in the city.