Last week, I announced the launch of Behind The Scenes – a new series that takes a look at the processes and inspirations behind the collections of some of my favorite emerging designers.
I'm so pleased to present my second Behind The Scenes with California-based (and California-vibed) jewelry designer Monica Squitieri. Monica and I met through the world of Instagram, and I'm glad to now know her in addition to fawn over her work – she's a gem of a gal.
With that in mind, today Monica is taking us behind the scenes into her California studio where she hand casts her line of rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Read on to learn more about Monica's process (and scroll down to enter our GIVEAWAY):
Monica's handmade jewelry line is inspired by her home of California. She's what I'll call a modern West Coast hippie who loves nature and Neil Young.
Gal after my own heart.
"Being a designer means that I am open to my surroundings. It also means that I choose what sticks and filter the rest out. My favorite thing about being a designer is the freedom I have to make what I love based on the environment, my experiences, and our California culture."
Monica started her line by making one-of-a-kind pieces, but struggled when it came to production. As any designer knows, the issue with one-of-a-kind is that there's...just...one. This makes it difficult to sell in large volumes. Monica revamped her business, and now creates a line of jewelry that allows for her pieces to be unique and handmade yet still marketable to retailers (like Suite Hazen in the UK) as well as customers.
"With this line, it was really important to me for the casted jewelry to have a truly unique design. I feel that they do – and they all have stories behind them as well."
On the biggest misconception about jewelry designers:
"Making jewelry is not elegant or glamorous – my hands are always blackened from working. Before I meet a buyer or do a show, I take a day ahead of time to suspend myself from working so that I can get my nails done. It's not so appealing to have callused hands in front of a potential buyer or customer."
All of her pieces are made in the U.S. from recycled materials – sustainability is something she's passionate about. Monica talks about her design process:
"Typically something will inspire me during a road trip, or a walk – whatever it may be. From there, I take photos or sketch ideas, then start carving wax. This process can take me as little as a day (if i'm lucky) or as long as a couple weeks.
"I use the lost-wax process and have an amazing team of artisans helping me in LA. Once the piece is casted, we finish it (cut off the sprues, file the seams, tumble and hand polish). Many pieces take even more work post-casting, such as the Mojave Earrings and Desert Rose collection. I then solder any pieces that need additional components and do all of the stone setting myself, in the studio."
"Once the process is finished, I store them in sealed bags. Oxidation is a natural process for base metals. Keeping them sealed slows that process down."
And just for fun:
What’s one book everyone should read? One movie everyone should see?
"Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and – can I pick TV instead? – "Breaking Bad."
If you weren’t living in California, where would you be?
Wherever I live, it must always be near the ocean. It's hard to think outside of my Cali state of mind, but my husband was born in Sicily, so perhaps somewhere along the Mediterranean Coast.
Favorite social media feed?
Pinterest is straight up eye candy. I find myself sitting down just to check the feed quickly and an hour later saying to myself "Oh my god. I just wasted an hour of my day staring at Pinterest." I'm certainly not addicted, but it feels like that sometimes.
-Follow both @monicajewelryca and @robinreetz on Instagram, and you could win your own Anemone Ring. -For a bonus entry, either repost the photo or tag us in your OWN photo using #MonicaXsff and tell us why you want to win
Just in time for the holidays, y'all.
Giveaway ends at 11:59PM PT on Sunday, Dec 7. Winner will be notified on Monday, Dec 8. Sorry, but this giveaway is only open to U.S. readers.