Ink swirls and spirals across the paper in Jamie Blicher’s paintings. The abstract eddies of color streaked with veins of deeper pigment resemble polished quartz or marble. Blicher sells her work framed or printed on pillows, headbands, notebooks and even masks from her company, Glitter Enthusiast.
But despite the whimsical moniker, Blicher’s work was initially born from a much darker place. During a three-year struggle with infertility, she turned to art—along with Pilates, acupuncture and therapy—to find calm.
“I did a lot of different things, but painting felt the most like me when I didn’t really feel like myself,” she says. “I use art as my personal diary. When I’m really happy, I paint about it. When I’m not happy, I paint about it. So for me going through this infertility journey, it was a time I needed to paint.”
Blicher, 35, also decided to incorporate her infertility struggle in her art. One day she spied an unused box of IVF needles she used for fertility treatments. In a moment of creativity, Blicher filled a syringe with rubbing alcohol and injected it onto ink in the center of a piece of paper, watching it spread across the page.
Her first reaction was awe. “Inks can be very difficult to control on paper,” says Blicher. “Using the syringe gave me that extra bit of control and power over the ink. Realizing the obvious metaphor here between my life and my art was powerful.”
To create the billowing whirls in her work, Blicher moves the ink and alcohol with a blow dryer or blows on it through a straw. Some work she festoons with stars, the kind you wish on.
“Forcing something beautiful to come out of this object that brought me such pain and frustration was a lifeline in more ways than one,” she says.
Eventually, Blicher became pregnant with her twin sons, Ethan and Bennett, who were born in July 2018. She lives with them, her husband, Brian, and their labradoodle, Gem, in Rockville. And while that was the end of her infertility battle, it was just the beginning for Glitter Enthusiast.
Blicher uses her background as a buyer for such companies as Amazon, West Elm and Total Wine to shape her offerings. She also draws on a lifelong love of creating art as well as her degree from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Much of Blicher’s work is done on commission, some by women who have faced their own infertility battles.
“We met at similar painful points of our infertility journeys,” says Erica Noel, who lives in Rockville. “Today, I get to watch my daughter curl up in a blanket—marketed as a towel—bearing Jamie’s art under two of her gorgeous paintings, and I literally feel chills of joy and so much optimism.”
Marisa Landau, who lives in Kensington, owns one of Blicher’s paintings as well as a mask.
“I was so moved by her long and traumatic journey to have children and how she channeled that experience into her art, both emotionally and through the use of IVF needles,” she says. “I have dabbled in art myself and have always been intrigued
with nonconventional tools and mediums, so I find her use of the syringes inventive and emotionally moving.”
Lisa Aleskow, who lives in Potomac, commissioned a piece for her daughter’s room. “Her paintings, although abstract, tell a story—you see the light and darkness in each of them, a feeling of hope and connection,” she says.
Blicher has also used other women’s sterile IVF needles when they commission work. And she has become an advocate of making the subject of difficulty in conceiving children less taboo—starting with her own mother.
“When I was first trying to get pregnant, she said: ‘Just relax. I just looked at your dad and I was pregnant.’ I was thinking, ‘I know good intentions are there and this how you think you’re helping me, but right now I just need to be heard and I need support,’” she recalls. “We want to be teaching loved ones of those going through infertility what to say, what not to say, how to offer support, how to comfort.”
It didn’t happen all at once, but when Blicher started sharing her artwork with friends three years ago, she also talked about the journey that led her to create it. And she has connected with many women facing their own infertility struggles through her Instagram account @glitterenthusiast, which has nearly 4,000 followers.
Blicher has exhibited her work through the Art of Infertility in Washington, D.C., a group that raises awareness of infertility issues through art and storytelling. She also donates a portion of her profits to Resolve, a national nonprofit infertility association.
“I want my sons to be so proud of their mom for battling adversity this way and finding a beautiful thing that comes out of it,” Blicher says. “I really want to tell them how badly
I wanted them and how the conversation of them from the beginning turned into something so beautiful. And that they came and made this world so much better.”