A while ago I was trawling through tumblr, as you do, and came across a picture of a ring...
Luckily the person who posted the picture had linked back to Laura's Etsy store, and possibly one of my favourite finds on the old world wide web so far.
A graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Laura has a major in sculpture and a minor in painting. As well as creating one of a kind pieces in her studio in East Vancouver, she is a high school Art teacher and mother of three children.
Laura was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us!
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
A: I am inspired by the specimens I work with. I try to build a piece around them that compliments their form. I don't actually sit down with a sketchbook and design my pieces- I start with a raw specimen, look at it in strong light from all angles, and decide what to do with it from there. I also draw inspiration from a few repeat customers- they contact me with their ideas, or sometimes with their own specimens, and then I create something built specifically for them.
Q: What made you choose to use crystals for your jewellery?
A: When I started jewelry making last summer, I began building pieces around calibrated stones. I found that the stones that really caught my eye were unusual shapes, such as bullet cabochons. Going towards specimens in their original form was a natural progression for me. I think my very first 'specimen ring' was built around a big, grape-coloured chunk of raw amethyst. It just seemed much more interesting to me to be working with minerals and gemstones in their natural state- I so much prefer the natural formations. It boggles my mind that these tiny little entities have built up, so precisely, over so many countless years. I also really like working with big chunks of raw gemstones- the ways that they organically facet once they are broken is so much more appealing to me than the smooth, calibrated surface of a cut stone.
I have to admit that I am sort of passionate about specimen collecting- my studio is overrun with hundreds and hundreds of specimens, and I am constantly buying more. I am a real specimen collecting nerd.
Q: Where do you source the specimens that you use?
A: I sometimes buy pieces from a local gemshop, where there is a fabulous lapidary who helps me by cutting the more difficult pieces. However, I source out most of my specimens from all over the world- I have pieces from Australia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, South America, Spain, and the USA. One of my favourite specimens is a chunky raw garnet that my eldest brother brought home from a trip to the Canadian Arctic.
Q: Do you have a favourite material to work with, if so - why?
A: I love working with pyrite. I don't really know why- I just love its different formations and the gray-gold colour.
Q: From what I gather from your profile you're a busy lady! How do you manage your time?
A: In addition to my jewelry work, I teach full-time and have three small children. A busy week in the studio can have me going for another 30-40 hours. Sometimes my kids come down to my studio with me, and other times I work when they are asleep. I am often found in my classroom packing orders during lunchtime. I also get up super-early in the morning, and put in some time before work every day. Other times, I depend on my husband to single-parent, and I get by on very little sleep! I mostly hold it together well, but have sometimes been so tired that I don't notice that I am singeing my hair off with the torch until it's too late.
Q: What made you decide to move from your background in sculpture to jewellery making?
A: During my first year of art school, I went to the year-end show of the jewelry program of a local college. I was riveted by the designs, which were just like perfect little sculptures. I was sorely tempted to drop out of art school and drop into jewelry school. However, I got distracted and finished art school So, it was always something I wanted to do. When I was doing more sculpture, I worked with media like stone, wood, and metal. I have always found natural materials and organic forms compelling. I see jewelry making as a form of sculpture, but without all of those wrenching and painfully embarrassing art-school critiques.
My family- three sweet kids and the long-suffering husband
My lovely parents and my five siblings
Building specimen jewelery!!!!
I'm absolutely in love with every item in her store. What could be better than having something handmade that no one else in the world will have?! Diamonds may be a girls best friend but give me a chunk of Amethyst any day!
To check out Laura's store on Etsy, *Click Here*