My first love was working with gold. I found that the warmth of gold seemed to breathe life into the stones I loved so much. For years I only worked with gold, but when I pivoted away from designing reproducible collections that I could wholesale to retailers I found that I needed to rely heavily on social media to keep my work visible. Family time was always my priority and so I had no desire to trek all over the country and do shows if it meant being away for multiple weekends. And honestly, producing multiples for retailers felt soul sucking. This is when I discovered I thought more like an artist than a designer.
With the changes to the economy post Covid, and changes to Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram in recent years, independent artists like myself have felt the squeeze that limited visibility has placed on them. Material costs continued to rise and it became more difficult to maintain a large inventory of precious materials such as gold. Like many of my friends, I have tried to adapt creatively and work with silver more, but for those of you who have followed my work for the last few years have seen a lot of experimentation. Of course this hasn't all been bad and I'm proud of the work I have produced. However, if I'm being honest nothing lights me on fire like taking interesting and unusual stones and wrapping them in gold.
Recently, I wanted to make a pair of earrings for myself for an upcoming event and really wanted to use gold, but I knew I needed to save the gold I had in stock for work I could sell. I pulled out my old stock of gold fill and once again I felt that thrill of watching something beautiful come to life in a way that sang to my soul.
Since then I have created some new pieces using 14k gold fill and the sweetest stones. I was blown away by the positive response to this new work and so I've decided to continue taking my work in this direction.
So what is 14k gold fill? A layer of gold has been heat bonded over a core of brass and this solid 14k gold layer must make up at least 5% of the total metal. Gold fill gives the same look as solid gold and is far more durable than cheaper gold plate, which often looks fake and flakes off. What this means is that you and I will be the only ones who know it is gold fill and not solid gold. This will also offer you a beautiful one of a kind piece of jewelry at a more affordable price point.
Of course, I will continue to use solid 14k gold in my most beloved pieces such as my Calavera collection and I'm always happy to create a similar solid gold version of any piece upon request. I hope you enjoy this new direction as much I am.
Early in my jewelry career I was told by a very respected intuitive that she saw me creating jewelry that others could “literally feel”. She felt my work would be deeply healing for the wearer and let me be clear, she didn’t know anything about me. I responded by telling her that I in fact did make jewelry professionally and loved working with gemstones, but that I could never see myself creating the typical healing crystal jewelry.
As a highly sensitive person and one who has studied many healing modalities over the years, many of the New Age definitions of gemstones didn’t resonate with me at all. Despite all of the things I have been open to and studied over the years, I felt like crystal healing (as I knew it) had absolutely no merit. I no doubt loved stones and were really drawn to certain ones, but I didn’t feel anything in their presence.
In December 2021, after spending an intensive two weeks learning Hawaiian lomi lomi massage I once again found myself sitting eye to eye with an amazing seer in Maui. His name was Roy, but everyone affectionally called the Japanese Yoda and I could see why. Among the many mind blowing things Roy shared with me that evening, he mentioned that he saw me working with stones in jewelry and in combination with plant medicine to create potent medicine for others and the earth. As I had been studying plant medicine for the past two years I found the idea of making medicine for others and the earth interesting, but I quickly shrugged off the stone part.
Shortly after returning home I came across Sarah Thomas (they/them), a master acupuncturist, wise multifaceted healer, and teacher of stone medicine. I was buzzing with excitement after reading their bio and about the school they founded - the Upper Clarity School of Stone Medicine. I had honestly forgotten about what Roy shared regarding my work with stones, until Sarah began talking about combining stones and plant to create potent holistic medicine. I gasped at the realization that these two amazing seers that came to me many years apart had seen something I bigger in purpose for me than I could see for myself.
Sarah is a part of an ancient lineage of stone medicine practitioners dating back to the Taoist matriarch Lady Wei (252-334) who formed the Shangqing School and they studied extensively under the tutelage of Jeffrey C. Yuen, 88th generation priest of the Jade Purity Lineage. To this day he is still one of Sarah’s most cherished mentors. I am proud to have been initiated as a stone medicine practitioner by Sarah and the ancestral lineage that stand with her. These ancient Taoist teachings are brought together with temple magic and an earth based shamanic approach to create profound shifts in consciousness and healing.
At the heart of the Taoist stone medicine teachings is the the knowledge that everything has a living vibration and the Earth is our greatest source of wisdom and healing. Furthermore, we can trust that we have everything we need inside of us as we are not separate from nature. Stones are allies, helping our souls awaken to the very knowledge we have forgotten and guiding us towards the healing we so desperately need in our current culture. Cultivating a relationship with these sentient beings through intention and ritual will unlock their deep soul medicine.
Using the framework of ancient Chinese medicine, the meridians, and the acupuncture points, along with the elemental composition of each stone and its effects on the body, we focus on healing the multidimensional layers of the human body. I have personally been gobsmacked by the beautiful shifts I have seen in my own life. I’ll admit that I still don’t feel a tangible energy emanating from a stone when I hold it in my hand, but I have found that each stone I’m drawn to has held the exact healing that I needed in my life and it has communicated with me in other powerful and validating ways. Under Sarah's instruction I have learned how to make stone elixirs and I’m so excited to dive deeper in this and explore combining stone elixirs with healing plants. Looking back at some of the multi-elemental talismans I previously created intuitively, I’m amazed at how they carried the energy I intended without knowing why. Of course I’m definitely paying more attention to stone combinations in my jewelry, but each still comes about intuitively. Simply having these powerful, sentient beings close to your body can create unimaginable shifts and jewelry is a great medium to do this.
I have been learning a lot about plant allies as I study herbalism. In a nutshell, an ally is being that you partner with for healing, growth, transformation, and support when challenges arise. This may be on a physical, emotional, or even a more subtle metaphysical level. So how do you find an ally? Often they catch your eye and when you're in its presence it feels like an old friend. An ally naturally lifts your spirits.
After letting this idea of an ally marinate inside me for a while I realized that certain stones make me feel the same way. Until very recently I couldn’t quite fully embrace the idea of stones possessing specific energetic qualities . Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than a wee bit woo woo, but I have to feel it to believe it and it has to pass through my trusty bullshit meter before I’m on board. However, I can’t deny the fact that certain stones provide me with a strong sense of comfort and joy. Colorful tourmalines are pure joy to me and one of my very favorites as you know. As individual as the soul itself, I always feel as if I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of a beautiful flower garden when I surrender to their colorful magic. Give me an aquamarine and I will wrap it in the sunny warmth of yellow gold every time. Metalsmithing is an alchemic process, bringing together different elements with fire and transforming them into something new. Combining an aquamarine with gold and perhaps a precious pearl, brings me to a state of beachy bliss when I admire the end result.
Thinking about allies and the alchemy of my work in this new way feels big. Looking even deeper, I think we can see this in other ways we each create. From preparing a wonderful meal to creating a home that brings us healing and comfort, there is energetic and metaphorical alchemic process that we all create with.
I've been wanting to model a pair of my twisted earrings, but I recently had my ears pierced for a second time and we have a couple months of healing to go. Not interested in committing to a second piercing? No problem! This is what these earrings were made for! My new twisted ear wire simply threads through a single piercing, but gives the illusion of wearing a small hoop in an additional piercing. The end rests comfortably against the earlobe and this fashion forward design insures that you won't accidentally lose an earring.
This pair of Twisted La Calavera Catrina & Scapolite Earrings are my newest favorite!
I've been reluctantly leaning into the shorter days and trying to find ways to nurture my soul. Scents, color, beautiful imagery, books, enchanting lighting, fluffy blankets, movement, and music seem to be my go to's right now.
I found this picture after I created my latest La Calavera Catrina Earring. When I saw it I immediately wanted to just crawl into this image and cover myself with the blooms. Then I realized how similar the colors were to what I had chosen for the flowers on my earring. I often use the hashtag #colortherapy in my IG posts and like most people I'm really drawn to certain colors, but I'm really starting to understand how powerful color is for my happiness. Don't tell this to the gray sweater and black jeans I'm wearing right now! But truthfully, these colors scratch the nagging itch in my soul. They give me immediate satisfaction followed by a feeling of completeness. I want to linger in their presence and fill my world with them. Funny, it sounds like love. #colorcrush
Can there be anything better than little light catchers for your ears? I think not. These single La Calavera Catrina Earrings are my current obsession. I'm definitely going to be making more and some in silver as well. You can grab yours here!
This morning we have sun! Quite fitting for a Sun-day, don't you think? Sunny days and color make me so happy, so since it is early in the winter season I thought it might be nice to share what gives me a little boost when the days don't cooperate. A snip it here and there... a visual beauty break.
I'm so in love with the work of Lewis Miller Design, a floral artist and event designer. Lewis has created these wonderful "flower flashes", giving a second life to flowers while beautifying ordinary spaces. I don't know about you, but I would probably linger at this intersection a little longer.
I'm always obsessed with color and composition in my own work and my newest La Calavera Catrina Earrings pay homage to beauty and impermanence. Mother Nature may not give me sun and flowers throughout the winter, but I can create my version of a sunny day.