Google+ Lilies and Laurel: Interview with Oregon Team Events

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Interview with Oregon Team Events

I was recently interviewed as a featured artist by Oregon Team Events. Follow the group to learn about more local artists and artisans, and find out more about how to "shop local" online.

White flower and ivory pearl earrings
What do you create?
Primarily jewelry, but I sew, knit, crochet, and make some natural bath and body products, too. I also enjoy doing photography and sometimes have prints available, and will be adding some other products using my photos later this year. There really aren't many crafts I haven't done over the years, so what's available in my shop reflects what I'm in the mood to make right now.

How did you come up with your brand name and what inspired it?
I started out working as Oak Moon Designs in 2006 and opened my first Etsy shop then, less than a year after they launched. Starting in 2007, I lost three family members in less than a year, and had to put my shop on hiatus for a while because of that and some other family emergencies. When I came back to it I needed to make a fresh start, and wanted a name that reflected a sense of rebirth and a refusal to give up, as well as referencing my love of nature. I renamed my business Lilies and Laurel after re-reading one of my favorite poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Dirge Without Music". The inspiration was, "Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned."

Blue apatite earrings
What made you fall in love with your craft?
My middle school art teacher taught a section on making jewelry one term, and I started making my own accessories then. I had the same teacher in high school, and she taught us more jewelry skills including pewter casting and some more advanced wire work, which I really enjoyed. I majored in theater in college, focusing on costume and accessories, and learned to work in a lot of different styles, and how to see the possibilities in the materials you have to work with.

Tell us about your process and what materials you use.
For the jewelry, sometimes a design shows up in my head fully formed, and all I have to do is actually make it. Other times, I think of a color or texture combination I want to try, but it takes some experimentation to get it to come together. At this point, I've got a collection of supplies that I've acquired over the last 25+ years, so I'll go to my shelves and get things out to start playing with, to see what works. I've found with necklaces in particular, often I'll have some of the elements for years before I finally find the last thing to really make a piece work. Because of that, a lot of my necklaces are one of a kind or extremely limited editions, as the supplies are no longer available by the time the design is finished. I tend to have design days, where I'm just working on new pieces, and production days, where I'm focusing on building up my inventory before a show.

Labradorite and pearl earrings
As for materials, my Twitter tagline is "I have a magpie-like attraction to shiny objects" and that's not far off. I have a big selection of Swarovski crystals that I like to use because they're high quality and so sparkly! I really love working with natural stones, and am excited about a couple of new lines I'm debuting this year that use semi-precious stones. I love working with fine silver clay, though you usually have to come to a show to buy one of those, as they rarely get listed in my shop. I have a collection of mid-century costume jewelry that I started when I was a kid, and sometimes I'll turn pieces that might not be wearable as-is into materials to use in new, "upcycled" pieces. I'm always on the lookout for new materials, or new techniques to use what I already have.

If you could travel back through time, when you first started your Etsy shop, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
In the immortal words of Journey, "don't stop believin'". There will be times it's really hard to keep up with everything it takes to run your business on top of everything else in your life, but it's what you're supposed to be doing, so don't forget that, and don't prioritize other people's dreams ahead of your own.

Green kyanite and pearl necklace
How do you stay inspired?
To stay interested in my work, I have to keep evolving as my design sensibilities change, and it can be hard to balance that with the reality of running a business and sometimes needing to use up existing supplies I'm no longer quite as excited about, in order to have space and funding for the new ones. Inspiration for new things comes from a lot of areas. I love looking at antique jewelry; I got to go to the jewelry wing at the V&A in London a few years ago and could have spent the whole day there sketching. Some of my pieces have been inspired by paintings, or the view out my window. I once made a necklace in colors inspired by one of my cats. I often have pages of notes and quick sketches of design ideas for things I want to make.

What is your favorite part of your creative process?
My favorite part is definitely coming up with a new design, and experimenting until it works. I love that "aha!" moment when I know I've got it.

What are you passionate about outside your art?
My daughter Branwyn, family and friends, hiking, my cats, writing, reading, learning new things, modern homesteading activities like organic gardening and preserving, sustainability, herbalism and alternative medicine.

List three adjectives that describe your Etsy shop or products.
Elegant, high-quality, timeless.

Is there anything else we should know about you?
This is a year of big changes, for myself and my business, so check in often to hear about all the new things! I'll be updating the blog at more often, and you can find links to my pages on other sites there as well.

Pick five of your own creations that are your favorites.
You can see my five current favorites in the photos throughout the interview.

Bali silver, carnelian and crystal necklace