For as long as I can remember my pockets were filled with stones, bones and earth. Growing up in the beautiful and mineral-rich valley of the Umpqua, my childhood was a woven experience of nature and magic.
The Umpqua River, flowing through my backyard, was filled with carnelian, jasper, agates, quartz and petrified wood. I was constantly amazed by what the Earth created.
As I grew, my love for nature and Earth’s minerals grew as well.
I always had busy hands. They wanted to be creating, moving, building. They guided me through many different artistic endeavors, but it wasn’t until September 2014 that I picked up the torch, put it to silver and created my very first ring.
There was no turning back at that point. I knew my calling. I was going to be a silversmith. From that moment on I was so hungry to learn. I spent countless hours reading, researching and practicing the delicate art of silversmithing.
It’s been almost five years since I created that first ring, filled with all its perfect imperfections. And the journey to get here has been one of the most fantastic experiences of my life so far.
The name of my jewelry company is Earthly Ancestors. This name resonated with me because I’ve always felt a kindred connection to minerals. Some take millions of years to form within the Earth, all while absorbing the beginning and ending of some cultures, the essence of humankind, the movement of our civilization.
Many cultures throughout history have used stones as a tool for protection, meditation, divination and metaphysical healing. I’ve always believed that jewelry was much more than an expression of accessory.
Today, many of the pieces I create for people are exactly that. Healing tools. Yes, they are works of art, but they also serve a purpose. They are protection amulets for mothers to be, they are meditation talismans for those who choose to journey in search of a higher consciousness, they are heart healers for those dealing with grief and loss.
And sometimes, they are just beautiful accessories.
My pieces have reached all over the world, some landing in Italy, Russia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Guatemala, Brazil and Australia.
At some point during this evolution of creativity, I began to grow more and more curious about lapidary, the art of carving stones. So the next adventure began.
I was going to teach myself how to slab, trim and form my own stone cabochons — a gem or mineral with a flat bottom and a rounded, smooth top. It involves a process of trimming the stone, grinding it down to a specific shape, sanding and smoothing it to remove all scratches and imperfections, and then finally polishing it to a lustrous shine.
By learning lapidary, I would have complete creative freedom in my designs.
As of now, almost every stone I set is hand-cut by yours truly. Completely handmade from the ground up, literally. I specialize in rare and unusual minerals like Spectrolite, a stone that has almost every color of the spectrum, and Lemurian quartz, a crystal believed to have hidden messages left by an ancient civilization who were spiritually advanced and exceptionally peaceful.
I love working with American turquoise, moonstone, sunstone and raw crystals. Some of the stones I use are ones that I have dug from the Earth myself. I have quartz points and carnelian in shades of oranges and reds from Zinc Creek — an area that is in the belt of the Western Cascade volcanic deposits outside of the Umpqua National Forest near Tiller — jaspers and agates from the rivers of the Umpqua, Rhodonite from a location by the Oregon caves, green opals, orbital jasper and druzy filled amygdules from the cliffs of Heart Mountain in Eastern Oregon. These boots have hiked many mountains looking for treasure.
I’ve been a full-time artist now for three years. I spend most of my days on a piece of property about 107 acres in size, nestled in the Umpqua forest, where I work and live.
My shop is full of curiosities like a giraffe skull from the Smithsonian, an alligator skull from Florida, a bobcat and beaver skull found on our property, large crystal specimens, dinosaur bones, plants, healing herbs, artwork from our travels to South America and about a million stones and slabs that are waiting to be transformed. I’ve always found comfort in natures unique aesthetic.
You can find my artwork in my online shop Earthlyancestors.bigcartel.com, through Instagram as @Earthlyancestors and Facebook as Earthly Ancestors. I have a display at the Hair Garage in downtown Roseburg, and The Book of Mirrors Tattoo shop in Eugene.
As I evolve, so does my art. I look forward to the next five years and the wisdom it will bring. And I will continue to feed my heart and soul with every stone I put in my pocket.