This is a compilation of all the treasure I find in the wild., much of which I create my jewelry with. Feel free to reach out if you are interested in learning more about the process.
Mushrooms > Diamonds
Unlike any other species, the strangeness of fungi survives the loss of innocence about the limits of nature. They trump the supernatural, their magic intensifying the more we learn about them. Mushrooms are the masters of alchemy - transforming the death of the forest into thriving ecosystems. Providing some of the most potent medicines not only for humans, but for animals, plants and within our earth. Mycellium connects entire ecosystems through their wide webs under the surface and are actively healing this planet within those webs. It is no surprise that they have been revered by humanity for many many generations for both their medicinal properties as well as their profound ability to connect us to non-physical forms. I truly see mushrooms as our allies and our ancestors and wish to bring their mystical powers into all of our awareness. Anyone else wish to honor the fungal kingdom with me??
My husband and I spend every Fall in Northern California foraging/mushroom hunting. I gather only what is in abundance and make my molds for the silver right there, in the woods. When making molds, I take several samples because 9/10 times, the mushroom does not properly print the way Id like it to. We also gather up the tiny mycena mushrooms and "press" them. I leave them in books with heavy weights for several weeks before recovering the shrooms and putting them on a dehydrator. I then take the dehydrated mushrooms and set them behind glass using an epoxy to seal the seam.
California Self mined crystals
Seeking out crystals that have only experienced life from within our earth. Their energy is pure, uncontaminated, and wise. These minerals radiate their connection with Mother Earth and tell a story that no human could ever create. We embrace their individuality. It isn't always about how perfect the point is, but the character within each stone. What excites us is the rutilations, inclusions, clusters, double terminated and rare growths.
Mining, if done in an unconscious manner, can actually cause quite a bit of harm and disrespect to the natural environment. Jay and I make a conscious effort to be respectful of mother nature's treasures and do our best to honor these minerals without harming the land. I take the time to feel into each stone, asking for approval to remove from the land before I do so. Often times, we leave behind more than we take. It is a beautiful part of the process and one that warms my heart to honor. Another way to respect the process is when we find clusters with nice big crystals on them, we don't even conjure the idea to try to break the crystal off. Instead, we leave it whole and honor it in the form it was offered to us. There are plenty of beautiful single points to go around without having to bash the clusters (as we often find marks from previous miners).
As for the cleaning process, there are dozens of ways and forums online on how to remove the clay, iron and rust deposits from these crystals. We have tried a few different ways, including the most highly suggested using oxalic acid in crock pots. However, the process was a huge turn off for us. Cleaning crystals with toxic chemicals seems like an oxymoron. Instead, though it may take MUCH much longer, we have found a solution that we prefer. We simply scrub them down over some warm water with a toothbrush, then leaving em out for the summer monsoon. Turns out, there are natural acids in rain that can break down these deposits on their own. Lucky for us, living at 7,500 ft in the mountains, just a few miles from the desert, we get plenty of summer rain from the mild summer monsoons. This method may take months or even years with specific clusters, and not clean them "as good" as the crock pot method but I prefer to keep their energy vibrations high, than for them to "look nicer". Plus, whats the rush?! these crystals have been hanging out under the soil for hundreds- thousands of years, whats another year or two to them anyway? For me personally, the small amount of orange deposits leftover on the crystal using the rain method, only gives them a truer representation of where they came from. I choose to honor these stains and perceive them as beauty marks.
Worm Trackings - the shift
A leap in perception.
Although I have always been drawn to nature's fine details, my overall appreciation and understanding have drastically changed. These worm trackings have seeped deeper, attracting more and more of my attention. Their beauty is soft and most often missed at first glance. Their imprints are much more than senseless markings, but a message of thriving existence, of b r e a t h e, a symbiotic relationship between life and the decaying, a harmonious exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The mindless - yet conscious act of nature. I revere at the simplicity these markings offer. Worms are subtle miraculous beings, often dismissed as creepy crawly "gross" creatures. Truth is they serve a critical role in our ecosystem. By transferring the true form of these worm trackings into silver - wearable heirloom quality goods - my wish is to honor these disregarded beings. To find joy in simplicity, and beauty in the micro details.
People love trees, yet twigs are seen as debris beneath our feet and rarely used for anything other than kindling, much less works of art. The way I see it, these twigs are part of trees and speak the same language. You see a whole new world once you lay eye level on the forest floor. An intricate miniature forest of surprising organic forms and natural wonders can be found. I look for the hidden mystery in each twig. Scars, knots, worm trackings, rot stains and fungi debris. They all have a story to tell, who wants to listen with me?
Being that we live a nomadic lifestyle, we chase the seasons that our hearts desire. Though I have much love and appreciation for all four seasons, SPRING is my favorite for it is the rebirth of the land, bringing us a variety of life to admire. We have been fortunate enough to see small sections of the butterfly migration over the last several springs. It is a beautiful thing to watch these little ones flutter around like a stampede in the sky, but very unfortunate when they float their way into our transportation routes. It is with a heavy heart, that I walk these highways and gather the hundreds of butterflies dead due to loss of habitat. They will be honored, ooo'd and awwww'd for the rest of time.
Bones + Claws
Not all my scavenged-goods come easy. Though some of the bones I have harvested were found in the wild, due to natural selection, the majority are due to loss of habitat (in other words, due to our growth, our roads... roadkill). It really saddens me to find some of the most beautiful creatures mangled on the side of a road because of our progression as humans. There is always the cringe at first glance, then comes the heavy heart. It is easy for most to just keep on driving by, but not for me. I always make an effort to stop to rest the animal in a place a little more sacred then on the side of the road. I allow nature to take its course and feed before I return to carefully harvest claws from these creatures. A symbiotic relationship, for I can now honor this animal, while also allowing the wild to feed on the carcass, free of danger from the road. By taking only the claws, I am confident that I am not stealing any food from the wild. This process was born out of compassion.
Most of the itty bitty bones that I find are from moles, gophers, squirrels and similar creatures. In this photo you can see these jaws bones were scavenged from an owl pellet. I am absolutely fascinated by the cycles of life and wish to honor the process in its entirety.
It is a gift ¤
the chances of stumbling upon the exact spot that a deer once stood when he shed his horns is humbling in itself.
it completely twists my noodle to think about where this horn has been prior to shedding.
the places it has traveled while resting on top of a majestic creatures head
the wildlife it has seen
It brings wonder as to which nearby mountain this horn has trekked up and down
which water source it returned to time and time again
which old growth it lied under each night.
It has gone on a lengthy, not always so pleasant journey with a deer that has used it as protection against the low hanging branches in tight corridors, and most importantly used as a weapon, challenging countless bucks for procreation with the healthiest doe. If this horn could talk, what story would it tell? .
To me, jewelry is not just an accessory but an expression. Being able to wear something that has once lived the wild life is both grounding and powerful. No manufactured good can beat the wisdom & character that nature provides