"To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation." -Paul Coelho
I get asked, a lot, why I went into business for myself, why I make jewelry, how do I get the drive to create. There's never a clear answer, or at least none that I can rattle off in less than 5 minutes. The life of a small business owner, especially in a creative field can be challenging. Finding time to wear all the hats one must when running a business, finding time to still be creative and innovative in your work, and at the end of the day still have some semblance of a social life.
The drive for me to create work was always there. The need to express myself visually, and with something so permanent as metal. As a little girl I always loved looking through my mother's jewelry collection, pieces passed down generation after generation, to be worn and displayed proudly. My great Aunts silver monogrammed compact, the gold signet ring carrying the crest of my Grandmother's maiden name. All of these pieces captivated me, and the idea of someday inheriting these pieces to pass down to my children excited me.
Designing and creating jewelry was the natural next step. I started with plastic beads, strung on yarn, then graduated to glass seed beads and silk cord. By high school I was taking metal smithing courses, and knew art school with a concentration in metalsmithing was in my future. In college I fell in love with the idea of 'taking notice.' Being so aware of your surroundings that anything and everything could be beautiful, if you took the time to notice it. My college work manifested this idea with the grotesque. Taking something taboo or conventionally seen as ugly, and turning it into a piece of jewelry, made with precious and beautiful materials. Let me tell you, my tumor necklaces, blister rings, and raccoon teeth line of jewelry, definitely got peoples attention, (albeit mostly negative.)
After school I lived in Tennessee for a short spell, working and living at Arrowmont School of Craft. It was here that I started to really explore the natural world, living in the Smoky Mountains can do that to a girl! I cast my first pokeberries in TN, as well as my tulip tree thorns. It was living in TN that I first realized I could make a living off my jewelry. I would make small collections of jewelry to sell, to supplement my beer habit, of course! Gatlinburg has a wonderful little brewery, and just so happens to have karaoke every tuesday (all video and photographic evidence of my karaoke skills have been deleted - sorry folks!)
Fast forward a few years, I still made jewelry on the side, while I worked full time as a bench jeweler for a manufacturing company here in Cleveland. After a few years working for someone else I knew it was time to strike out on my own, and LMJ was born. These days I still create work for much of the same reasons. My natural jewelry, using real twigs, pinecones, berries and thorns, allows me to bring simple, often taken for granted objects into the spotlight. I love the excitement in my customers eyes when they see that each piece is one of a kind, that every piece is made from recycled and ethically sourced materials. I know my customers are getting a piece they can pass down to their kids and grand kids. I get excited about the little girl years from now, looking into her mother's jewelry box and seeing a piece of LMJ, knowing one day it will be hers.