Writing about style, design and all things that catch my eye!

Perfectly imperfect and casually luxe; these are a few of my favorite things.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Statement Pieces by Michelle Starbuck

You know you've got a winning piece of jewelry on your hands when each and every time you wear it, someone asks you both of these questions: "Who made it?" and "Where can I find it?" My own necklace (pictured above) is one such as this. It was made by Chicago jewelry artist Michelle Starbuck who crafts bold pieces by reworking unique vintage finds (& selling them at a price point everyone will love). These are not precious pieces. They are solid and strong; referencing such things as geometry, equestrian needs, American industry & even architecture.

Mix it up and wear these pieces with your precious and semi-precious gems, your gold and your silver. Or, as I often do, just wear one noteworthy necklace made of pure brass. I like that it has three rings of varying sizes. I've even attached personal meaning to it where no meaning is. This is what makes our treasured pieces special, makes them ours.

fresh from the tumbler

New Studio Space 2013

I recently had a chance to ask Michelle a few questions, and when I asked her about her process, she told me this:

"When I'm designing a new piece, I'm always looking for the simplest way to use unique materials.  I use vintage findings and I like the focus to be on the materials, so I try not to overcomplicate things.  When I was working on the design for the Molecule Necklace, I had tons of the little hexagon pieces connected together.  Then I started taking them away until I got down to it's most minimal form.  I definitely think less is more. I like having a lot of tools to work with so I can modify vintage pieces.  Sometimes I'll find a shape that I like, but the finish is terrible.  I like knowing that I can throw it in the tumbler and take the finish off and make it matte or shiny."

Sourcing at the Wolf Myrow warehouse in Rhode Island

Locating materials takes a lot of time and energy. Her recent trip to a giant warehouse was a highlight of this year. When I asked her about it, Michelle responded with the following:

"I've been wanting to go to Providence since I first started making jewelry 8 years ago.  The warehouse I went to was sort of a myth in my head and it turned out to be just as amazing as I had hoped.  I have to rely on other vendors that live in the area and pick through the findings and resell them online.  So it was truly an epic experience to get to dig through it myself for the first time.  I learned a lot from that trip and I'm excited to go back and have better strategies for making decisions faster and buying enough.  Next time, in addition to taking photos as I go, I'll be bringing a notebook, a calculator, and snacks!"

Aside from my top photo, the additional photos are courtesy and copyright of Michelle Starbuck Designs.Shop Indie! Find her in Chicago area stores, at craft fairs, trunk shows and on the web (like I did).

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