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Q&A with ie:Nebulous

Words: Kirsty Wareing
Images: Craft and Culture
October 21 2016 / meet the maker, Uncategorized
Ruthie Haskell began designing jewelry six years ago, inspired by cultural history and the beauty of our natural environments. Based in Seattle, she creates one of a kind designs that marry stunning natural gemstones with geometric motifs in brass and bronze. We caught up with her to learn more about how her label ie:Nebulous was formed, where she gets her love of gems from, and why she cares so much about what her jewelry means to each customer.

Q: How long have you been designing jewelry and what led you to starting ie:Nebulous?

A: The Pacific Northwest has a very rich population of visual artists, musicians and artisans. So, as a local, it’s been fairly easy to find myself among other creative types. Finding my own voice as a designer required some patience. There was exploration involved and a bit of risk taking.

I began designing jewelry around 2010, initially as an introduction of a new craft and creative outlet. I deeply need the satisfaction of creating and building something with my own two hands. I can honestly say that my work only has value- at least for me- when another person forms their own relationship with it. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a number of inspiring creative women who encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and offer my designs to the community.

I started sharing my jewelry at local Pop-Up markets throughout town in 2012. These markets provide a beautiful environment that can introduce an artisan to the neighborhood. I have developed a lot of lasting partnerships by simply being present and speaking with people face to face. I ran a Pop-Up for some time, which lead to a season of constant discovery and inspiration for me.

 

Q: Where do you seek inspiration? Are there particular influences that inform your designs?

A: I seek my inspiration from my environment: naturally occurring patterns, shapes, colors and textures, and also from design themes present throughout humanity’s diverse cultural histories.

I’m inspired by a human perspective on complex relationships with the natural world and the cosmos. I use a lot of different gemstones that individually remind me of the expanse of the universe and the elements therein.

 

Q: Each of your pieces is one of a kind. Do you have recurring motifs and silhouettes that you prefer, or do you consider each design utterly unique?

A: It is indeed my goal to never make the same piece twice. So yes, I do consider my pieces one of a kind within the larger scale of my design aesthetic. Each pendant features different combinations of stones arranged with geometric shapes and mixed metals.

These hand-selected materials can present a design challenge when coupled with my desire to make every piece different, but ultimately the challenge is what keeps my work interesting for me. When a customer selects their own piece, this allows for a unique bond between wearer and object. The object can then become something more.

Q: Do you have favorite gemstones and metals to work with? What’s your process for selecting materials that are both stunning and ethical?

A: I’ve found that I am continually drawn to working with brass and bronze. I like steel and silver, of course, but those materials get quite expensive and push things out of financial grasp for a lot of my customers. The intention is to make things that are attainable.

As for gemstones, I love them all! My Grandfather was a rockhound and instilled the appreciation in me at an early age. I go through phases being drawn to specific stones for their unique qualities.

I try to keep things as local as possible. I source my materials from small businesses  and definitely avoid purchasing from mega distributors.

Q: As a small business owner, you have a strong connection to the local community here in Seattle. Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs who are looking to make their mark?

A: For budding entrepreneurs, it is all too easy these days to get swept up in the economy of fast and disposable fashion. Take the time to be true to yourself and make something unique enough to last.

That being said, do your own thing. Don’t get lost in that overwhelming storm of design trends. There are timeless pieces and there are timestamped pieces. You get to choose.

Shop the ie:Nebulous collection at Craft and Culture.