I have a sacred space in my home that I call my studio- the space in which I make jewelry. It is a dedicated space that houses all my gemstones, metals, and tools. It is sacred to me because it is a place where I know I can go to connect to myself, retreat from the pressures of the world, and allow my energy to express in whatever way it is calling. Sometimes I just sit with the stones and check in. Which stones are calling to me today? What do the stones want me to do with them? How do they want to play with each other? What messages do they have for me?
I started making jewelry in 2001. My first silversmithing class was the day after 9/11. As I look back at that moment, it was indeed for me a new beginning after a period in my life marked by great grief and a need to let go of the world as I knew it. This class was a conscious gift to myself to try something completely new. Little did I know the trajectory it would initiate.
In the early days, when laying in bed at night, images of jewelry would dance across my field of vision behind closed eyes. It was a kaleidoscope of intriguing colors and shapes, a sign of things to come. I knew early on that I was learning jewelry making skills so that I could work with the stones. I remember asking my instructor “when do we learn about the stones?” He was clearly not going to teach me, his expertise was with silver. So I started attending the local gem shows and gradually taught myself from interactions with the various vendors, including dealers, miners, rock hounds, and lapidary artists. Hungry for more information, I also studied books about gems and minerals including metaphysical sources rich with ancient folklore, spiritual practices, and descriptions of the magical qualities of the stones.
Jewelry-making took me on a journey of self-discovery. My instructor suggested that I wear my jewelry all the time and when anyone asks about it, he said, tell them “I made it and it’s for sale.” This concept totally changed my life. I was waiting tables at the time and this simple practice enabled me to sell the jewelry right off my body. I asked the restaurant owner, my boss, if I could do a jewelry show. He graciously said yes. My identity started to shift from being a single Mom working as a waitress, to perhaps considering myself as an artist. It was a big leap for me which required a lot of soul searching. I made jewelry alone in my home in my spare time. I didn’t know anyone else that made jewelry and resisted calling myself an artist. I saw a poster for an Artist Studio Tour that highlighted a jewelry artist. After visiting her studio I realized, I could do that. I joined the group of artists and eventually developed skills as an art administrator and advocate. Later, the opportunity arose for artists to assemble and create a co-operative gallery. My leadership skills secured me a key position in the group and I became a gallery owner.
My relationship with being a jewelry artist has shifted over the years. At first it was necessarily about making money and having an income. It then shifted to creating community to support sales while also supporting fellow artists. As my financial situation changed and I no longer needed the income to survive, I asked myself “Do I want to keep making jewelry? How does it serve me? How does it serve the greater community?” Once again, jewelry-making prompted me to take a deeper look inside myself. I make jewelry the old-fashioned way, each piece crafted by hand. The physical nature of the work was causing pain in my body, stiff muscles, aches and pains in my hands, wrists, and arms. I tried several therapies to help ease the symptoms. Then someone suggested Yoga, so I tried it. Yoga offered a path to re-connect body, mind and spirit, and emphasized the link between physical pain and spiritual dis-ease. I later found a class on using crystals and gems for energy healing. I trained to be a Reiki practitioner and took meditation classes. Then I enrolled in Yoga teacher training courses and was encouraged to develop my own “flavor of Yoga.” Now I offer a Yoga class where we incorporate crystals, gems and mineral specimens to create a crystal grid, or sacred circle, in which to practice Yoga.
My jewelry-making is all about the stones. I consider my jewelry more as amulets (sacred objects) than as pieces of personal adornment. The stones hold earth energy and they invite the wearer to tune into these various energies for spiritual support or as reminders of conscious intentions. Many different stones find their way onto my workbench. I love going to the gem shows and allowing myself to be attracted by the stones. I have developed relationships with vendors that I return to year after year. And each year I find new vendors and new stones. I engage in conversations to learn about the stones, where they come from, how they are mined, and how to work with them. I love hearing stories from the miners and am always amazed at the passion they express when talking about their “work.” They tend to love what they do so much that it hardly feels like work to them.
This is the energy that inspires me, to be so in love with what I am doing that the activity itself feeds my soul, makes me want to show up in my studio day after day. The most satisfying part of this work is when a piece of jewelry finds its owner because I know these pieces do not belong to me. They exist to serve someone else.
What do I love about making jewelry? I love that it gives me the time and opportunity to fully commit to my creative process, to tap into the energy inside me that wants to be expressed. Being committed to my creative process cultivates self-awareness, a knowingness of my intrinsic worth, and a potential that continues to open new doors of experience for me. I love that I get to further explore the stones, surround myself with their beauty, and deepen my relationship with them. And I love the thought that I create something of value for someone else, something that hopefully can help remind them of their own self-worth and purpose as a soul in this world.