Hi Laura! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How are you? What are you up to these days?

Hiiii! I’m Laura. I’m a multi-disciplinary artist, I work in photo styling for my bread and butter, and since 2018 I’ve been making jewelry under the moniker SUN.

I’m well! We’re all on a journey these days. Lately I’m riding the upswell of spring and looking to the flowering trees and early blooms for cues on how to be.

You are the founder and designer of SUN. How did you start designing jewelry?

It came to me completely out of the blue and it is insane that I followed such a whim - but that’s what we do! And here I am :–)

A woman wearing a checkered red shirt clasps her hands. She is wearing gold earrings and rings on her hands.

What is the origin story of SUN? How did it come to fruition?

I was 32 when I woke up one morning with the vision of SUN in my head. I remember I woke up and wrote it in a journal. The initial seed that took root was to make 14 karat gold jewelry in the spirit and style of the American Southwest. I had opportunities in the past to learn metal smithing and never had an interest, so this was something completely new and unknown and the idea really took me for a ride. I took a big break from work and went through bench training and then figured out, bit by bit – trial and error, all the moving parts. The experience has been wildly transformative in ways I could have never predicted.

The ethos of SUN is rooted in the elemental world and the concept of play. What sort of things evoke a sense of joy and wonder for you in Nature?

I love when I get a sense that someone is saying hello, like a single frond waving hi, a big cedar dancing, a neighborhood cat taking a quick tour through the house, a little prismatic halo around the sun – things like that make me smile and want to return the favor.

What is your favorite thing to do outside? Is there a certain practice you do to feel more connected to Nature?

Weeding, walking, wading, weeping, waiting for sunset, washing the front steps, wringing my body out, watching birds at the feeder…

Image of a leg clad in black and white jeans walks on the beach.

In my favorite Noihsaf score, these black and white Rachel Comey jeans...

In that vein, what is your favorite…

Flower?

Poppy

Scent/fragrance?

The ocean

Stone or shell?

Lapis is my favorite stone, I think. A shell of any type is a wonder.

Body of water?

Impossible question but Lake Minnetonka will always be home.

Tree?

Hmmm, maybe Olive

Season?

Autumn

Time of day?

I’m completely solar powered; any and all daytime hours are my favorite.

When you create a piece for SUN, who do you have in mind? Who do you make these adornments for?

I don’t really have any person in mind. It’s more a practice of putting pen to paper, things that accumulate in my mind, and then some of those things make their way to the bench. I’m inspired by color and how it can spark something of a vibrational shift. I’m inspired by the ritual of adornment and the origin of that impulse. I’m inspired by the idea of holding reverence and irreverence in balance with each other – to own fine jewelry and wear it with joy AND deep reverence for its value and preciousness.

A selfie of a woman wearing a bright green crewneck, earrings, and two gold necklaces. One of the charms is of a blue and gold sunflower.

You are a multi-faceted artist. What other projects have you worked on recently? Do they intersect with SUN, or are they their own separate streams?

Yes, I have my MFA in fibers and new practices and have steady studio practice. The work I make in the studio is very slow and repetitive, currently I’m making small art objects using stones found in nature, tightly weaving grids and nets of threads onto them. They are sort of like talismans or touchstones for an altar or a space. I think a through line between the two projects is that these objects, worn or for the home, travel from my hands and go on to live a whole life inside someone else’s world. Pieces leave my studio and attach themselves to other people’s experiences and narratives.

Outside of Nature, what are you inspired by? What things lately have nourished your creative spirit?

Lately I’ve welcomed inspiration in the form of little glimpses of my future self and what she might possibly be up to. I’ve embarked on an independent study of postpartum care and support for abortion and pregnancy loss – it has unexpectedly brought a lot of creative energy with it!

A stock photo of turquoise and gold inlaid hoops against a white background.
A stock photo of a gold link bangle against a white background.

You incorporate inlay technique when creating your pieces. You acknowledge that the technique of inlay is “a living artistic legacy of the American Southwest” and “credit the ingenuity of native craftspeople” from that area. Is there a certain indigenous tribe that has been particularly influential when it comes to creating your pieces? If so, what details inspire you from their work?

I’ve been very humbled to witness my own ignorance regarding aspects of my original vision for SUN, which was fraught with privilege and harm. I can only imagine that more of my ignorance and capacity to harm will be revealed to me as time goes on and I hold that as a truth that can exist alongside my effort to do better and assist change. I’m not trained in the technique of inlay; I gratefully rely on the knowledge and care of my stonesetter for the opportunity to use this visual language. It’s an extraordinary way of working with stone, it inspires pure awe in me and it illuminates a special bond with unseen realms and Spirits of the Earth.

One more note on inlay in the Southwest, the jewelry and stone carving coming out of Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico is extraordinary. If you ever have an opportunity to support them directly, go big - you won’t ever regret it. There’s a magic transfer at work.

What does the future hold for SUN? Is there something you are looking forward to as SUN continues to grow?

These past few years have transformed me to be growth agnostic and capitalist averse. I wish to always make jewelry, I wish to always make art, I wish to feel like that connective bit of mycelium – brokering energy back and forth, helping to make a forest grow.

Model wears a single deep blue ring on their ring finger. Their hand is held against their chest and they are wearing a white shirt.

What is the best advice you’ve received when it comes to embracing natural beauty?

Best advice comes from a giant magnolia tree that lives down the street from me. I’ve witnessed it drop every last one of its leaves, all of its external commitments and responsibilities. It slept within itself for 6 months and now it is exploding into full bloom. What energy! What wisdom! What confidence! What timing!

What advice would you give to artists who are looking to create things that are kind and thoughtful to the earth?

Ugh, I’m still working my way through a giant stack of ULine boxes I ordered in 2018 that mocks my efforts to make good choices. It’s symbolic of how every choice has a shelf life of its own. Do your research and know that you’ll make mistakes and correct the course. There are a lots of resources out there for how to participate in capitalism in an informed way – care is key I think.

Thank you for your time and talent Laura!!

Thank YOU so much!!!