Ursa Major is a brand that caught my eye because of their interesting inlay work. The more designs I saw, the more I loved the collection. It has an easy, organic vibe, but also has very clean lines. The designs are easy - not forced - and can be worn with anything. Get to know a bit about Kate, the designer, below! I'll be meeting her tomorrow and cannot wait.
I think it must have always been in my blood. I was that kid begging her mom to take her to the bead store, weekly. And then I got hooked on polymer clay. Fascinated by the millions of things that could done by imitating glass working's millifiori technique. Making abstract animal brooches, loaded with miscellaneous patterns - I cited Keith Haring as my inspiration. My mom walked into a store one day wearing one, and the shop owner said, "Where did you get that brooch?" Mom replied "My daughter made it" (leaving out the fact that I was only 12). The shop owner said "Can I get 20 for the holidays?" Next thing you know I had a business number!
But it wasn't until I took my first metalsmithing class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, as a junior in high school, that I really found my medium... From there I went on to study at Rhode Island School of Design and I've been doing it ever since.
I don't do much sketching. Much to the chagrin of all of my college professors (!). I much prefer to just get my hands straight into it and figure it out that way. I'm always been 3D oriented...and hard pressed to do much that was 2D. I find that I much prefer letting the medium dictate what it wants to do. I mean, I definitely guide it and have my aspirations and ideas for each piece, but one thing that art school did teach me (and probably the most important thing) was to embrace the process, to stop and watch what's happening at each step and stand back and give it space to potentially becomes something you couldn't predict or preconceive, but better. When I design each new collection for me line, there's certainly more sketching involved, in an attempt to map out a cohesiveness and draw lines between the pieces. But for the inlay pieces, and particularly the bracelets, I find that as much as I have an idea to begin with, the stones really control the destiny of each piece. That sounds a little hocus pocus, but it's just to say that each stone can potentially change the whole feeling of a piece...so sometimes it is a DRAWNNNNNN out process that I labor over. Each one is a painting basically.
I take my inspiration largely from art and architecture, and the revolving fashion world. But more the former, less the latter. The latter sort of acts as a check point, for me to look and say, am I on the right track? Though at the end of the day I do it for me, not the fashion world.
Which designs are my favorite?! Agh that's such a tough question! Definitely the newer ones- I feel like I'm pushing it each collection and growing as a designer. I get over my older work so fast. I always want to make it better. But the inlay cuffs and rings are right up there at the top, just because they really allow me to explore. They're a template for which I can do something different everytime.
Other than jewelry: Cook! I use cooking as my decompression at the end of a long day. I think I love it because it allows me to continue to create, but in a completely different medium. An instantly gratifying one! And these days I don't often have the time to explore my creativity in any other medium aside from the jewelry, so I take cooking as that opportunity. And it kills several (hungry) birds with one stone.
Favorite designers & artists: Constantin Brancusi, Richard Diebenkorn, Alma Allen, Ellsworth Kelly, Joel Meyerowitz, Milton Avery, Lucie Rie, Claude Lalanne, David Hockney, Hilda Hellstrom, and Max Lamb - it goes on.
Currently listening to: I'm constantly turning to Spotify's "Discover Weekly" playlist for me- sometimes they hit it spot on. Or Reverberation Radio's podcast. But when that fails in the studio, you can count on me for Miles Davis, Serge Gainsbourg's "Histoire de Melody Nelson", The Budos Band, or Paul McCartney's "Ram On"3
See more designs from Ursa Major here!