If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that Jimmi Wingert ’s work will rise to the occasion. Skill and imagination dance off of Wingert’s fingertips as a custom inlay artist and the result is nothing short of dazzling. Her intricate hand-cut inlays are not only made with beautiful materials such as mother of pearl, the delicacy of the designs is what really captivates you as you see tens of tiny little pieces all perfectly arranged to create an equally as beautiful scene. Then, put that scene on a stunningly handmade musical instrument someone else has dedicated themselves to creating and are placing in her capable hands, and you’ll be on Wingert’s level.
Chickadee fretboard, Ed Claxton Guitars
Wingert had a different viewpoint of woodworking than the majority of us growing up. She had the opportunity to watch her mother develop her own passion for woodworking as a luthier. “I watched her build her shop, tools/jigs and career with not much more than the help of library books and determination,” says Wingert.
Although she wasn’t initially taken with woodworking, Wingert credits a commissioned piece her mother received from Larry Robinson as her initial spark of inspiration. “Larry had done a beautiful inlay representation of Hokusai’s Great Wave on a fretboard. I had seen many traditional inlays before, but never had I seen an inlay that made me think of it as an art form on its own, the guitar being the canvas,” shares Wingert. She began studying Robinson’s The Art of Inlay books and videos. She worked at her craft and eventually overcame her hesitations to work on handmade guitars that already had many hours and more invested in them by others.
Four Seasons headstock, Wingert Guitars
Wingert doesn’t feel that she’s experienced much gender bias within the craft, partly due to her masculine name. “Over the years I have definitely surprised a few clients over the phone, I was not what they were expecting, but they weren’t upset by it.” She also credits the mostly male luthier community for welcoming her with open arms. “I’ve worked with a lot of amazing builders, but my mom being the only woman so far. Everything has been positive and I credit my mom for paving the way. She set the example that I really could do anything I wanted and she even made me question my own preconceptions of what women are capable of.”
Wingert does think that her gender has played a role in developing her work. She credits her good listening skills as a “feminine strong point” and believes in enables her to connect with her clients better, even if they are struggling to convey what they want from her work. Delving even further into her own style, Wingert says “My work does look feminine and I’m not entirely sure how much of that is me. You would be surprised by how many men request flowers and even, specifically, pink flowers.”
Woman and Vines, Kinnaird Guitars
Wingert’s favorite piece is one of her most recent, Woman and Vines, “…usually my favorite piece is whatever I just finished. I try to push myself to do more/take more risks with each piece.” Wingert also shared that she’s also had some inquires about putting her work on some furniture pieces recently and she is looking forward to the challenge. “It’s exciting to me because I’ve almost exclusively worked on instruments, which have limited space to work within. It will be nice to do something different for a change.”