One of my favorite things about Spring is the return of the craft shows and farmers markets. I love discovering new favorite jewelry makers, artists and all-natural beauty products.
Last year I discovered Whitney Edenfeld and her jewelry line Mirabilia. I had a chance to interview Whitney a few months ago about her versatile pieces and ended up liking her products even more after hearing about her inspiration and crafting process (and I think you will too).
I love that your product lines are inspired by everyday objects. What types of objects inspire you the most?
I’ve lived in the city for the past ten years but I grew up on a small island in south Georgia, surrounded by woods and, of course, the ocean. A love of the natural world is ingrained in me, it’s a part of everything I create. My favorite items to use are from that world, and are often not traditionally considered “beautiful.” Bones, teeth, broken glass even, to juxtapose somewhat morbid things against a colorful stone or a delicate chain challenges our perceptions of beauty. That duality, the balance of everything, is what inspires me most.
I have noticed that many of your collections speak to a certain location. Are these collections inspired by travel? Are they places you have gone, want to go, or read about?
Most of the cities and countries that serve as namesakes for my jewelry are completely foreign to me. Though I hope to see all these places one day, never having been to them is what makes them exciting. They are still a part of the unknown. It’s easier to draw inspiration from them that way, I can take these kind of shapeless ideas and images and use them to create a piece rather than a direct translation of something I saw somewhere on some city block. They stay mysterious and exotic to me, a constant well to draw from.
What is your favorite piece/collection you have ever designed?
Picking your favorite piece of jewelry is like choosing a favorite child, well, maybe not that serious, but it’s very difficult!
The first necklace I ever sold on etsy is definitely a favorite. It was a gorgeous, perfectly intact blue jay skull that I coated in resin, with vintage freshwater pearls on an antiqued brass chain. It’s a perfect example of my aesthetic; a little dark but still very feminine and wearable. Though I’ve gone through many different collections, spanning different styles, I always come back to the bones. Anything with bones, teeth, and claws are my favorite.
Describe your design to sales process. Do you find you do anything differently than other jewelry artists?
When I get an idea, I sketch it out, play around with it a bit, then make it. Pretty much the same as anyone. After that is where I think I might differ from other artists.
After I create a piece, I start wearing it. A lot. I wear everything I make multiple times before they’re ever available for sale. This does two things for me; first, and most importantly, I see the literal strength of piece. Is it too long and going to snag on everything? Is it too heavy? Too light? Does it turn in an annoying way? I can only answer these questions and make the appropriate adjustments by wearing it myself. The second thing I gain is feedback. If I wear a necklace three times and no one comments on it then I might think it’s not special enough and I need to do something to take it up a notch. If the first time I wear it several people stop me to ask where I got if from, I know it’s on point.
Do you design with an audience in mind?
I like to think I design jewelry for women like myself- which doesn’t necessarily mean women my age or who look like me, I mean women who don’t care as much about trends as they do about personal style. Sometimes the two can intersect but personal style will always evolve separately from “fashion.”
A woman like that wants her jewelry to tell a story, maybe to even relate to her on an intimate level, through a special stone or a charm, but the bottom line is that it means something to her. Even if what it means, is that she can afford it. “Special Occasion” jewelry misses the point to me, I think every day should be important enough to wear something special.
Do you take custom orders? Can someone order a piece from a past collection?
I absolutely take custom orders! It’s one of my favorite things, in fact. From altering the length of a necklace so it’s hits just right, to creating a completely new piece for someone, I love that feeling. A few years ago I made a custom piece for a friend out of an arrowhead she found in her grandfathers garden, he passed away and she wanted to be able to keep that reminder of him close. She told me when she showed her grandmother the necklace, they both cried. There’s no greater feeling than knowing what you made touched someone’s heart.
As far as pieces from past collections go, it just depends. I used to make more one-of-a-kind items so some things can be recreated but will just be different, which I think is great, but some have already gone on their way. I’m always up for a challenge, however, and making something similar to a previous piece with someones personal touches in mind is fun.
Whitney’s handcrafted jewelry can be found in boutiques throughout the United States, at various market events throughout the year and can be purchased online at mirabilia-jewelry.com.