Minnetonka resident and author Jen Bouchard can trace her interest in adornment back to her own childhood. Her grandmother—always finely arrayed herself—led Bouchard by example, amassing a treasure trove of ornaments from trips, some of which the two took together. She encouraged Bouchard to start a collection herself as a way of treasuring these special places and memories.
“My interest in adornment and what it says about people and their histories, their past, where they come from, kind of grew out of that space,” Bouchard says. After her grandmother’s passing, Bouchard inherited some of the charms and medallions that would later inspire her and her husband’s jewelry design business, which contained influences from both vintage and international sources.
Even after moving away from the design world herself, Bouchard continued to be fascinated by the concept of adornment. After a 15-year career working as an academic writer, she found a way to link this passion with her research abilities. “It dovetailed rather nicely,” she says. “I’m really interested in research and certainly the personal component of research.” Between working in Los Angeles and Minnesota, Bouchard’s life was rife with creatives and intellectuals willing to share their stories.
Adorned, published in March by Immaginare Press, is itself an assemblage. This hardcover contains finely crafted stories, complemented by sumptuous images, collected during her travels between the Twin Cities and Los Angeles.
Bouchard says, “My goal was to feature really diverse perspectives on adornment and what that means.” With this goal in mind, it follows that the artists and entrepreneurs featured in Adorned run the gamut from tattoo artists to perfumers, curators to calligraphers, with each story leading to a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be adorned.
One of the Minnesotans featured, Emily Johnson Kisa, is a designer and boutique owner from Wayzata. Her chapter details a serendipitous study abroad trip to Turkey, during which she discovered the rural handicraft of oya.
Kisa first stumbled across the meaning of oya in a book from the 1970s and went on to seek out women in rural villages still practicing the craft. Now the owner of the successful Kisa Boutique in Minneapolis, which specializes in Turkish imports and designs, Kisa has brought oya into the modern age. She uses the lace in draped and statement necklace designs, as well as earrings.
As modernity is spreading, traditional handicrafts like oya are dying out.
“I think they’re surprised it sells so well,” she says, referring to the Turkish women who produce the oya she sells in her boutique. Kisa says she wants to nurture the tradition by giving it a market.