When Marie-Juliette Bird made her way to London more than a decade ago, her original mission was work on music. But after unexpectedly crossing paths with celebrated jeweler David Courts, Bird's course changed forever. She returned to the states a few years ago as a jewelry maker after having spent that tiem learning from the master craftsman, and in 2012 she launched her own line, Blackbird and the Snow.
This Saturday, July 12, Highland boutique Goldyn will host the Blackbird and the Snow trunk show, a display and sale of Bird's carefully crafted accessory line.
Blackbird and the Snow's look is Victorian-era elegance with a modern twist; elements of nature combine with celestial imagery to create jewelry with a bewitching edge. Bird says she chooses to use a more old-world method when creating initial mockups of her throwback necklaces, bracelets and earrings. She draws out each piece by hand, steering clear of computer drafting, which is commonplace in the design industry.
"My pieces are inspired by antique pieces and the natural world," she says. "My drawings are then translated into hand carved metal, which is a process they actually used in the Victorian era. The whole idea behind the line is an ode to craftsmanship that was more prevalent before machines did everything instead of people."
This personal attention to detail and hands-on approach extends through to production - the jewelry is made in small batches at a casting house. Jewels, gems and precious stones are handset. Finally, antique finishes are used to create the vintage feel that typifies every piece produced by Blackbird and the Snow.
Bird says that while she was living in London, she would scour local markets for antique charms -- many of which would go on to influence the look of her current line.
Working alongside Courts helped inspire her. "He was the creator of the original Keith Richards skull ring -- he was kind of responsible for bringing the skull ring into the counterculture of the '60s," Bird says. "He and I became friends, and I apprenticed with him and learning about hand carving and all kinds of aspects of jewelry."
Though Bird's work is a bit more whimsical than a piece like Richards' iconic ring, there is still an element of darkness to it.
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You can see the full Blackbird and the Snow line this Saturday, July 12 when Bird brings her work to Goldyn for a trunk show. Bird will be in the store for this showing, which runs from noon to 6 p.m. For more information on the trunk show, visit Goldyn's website; for more about the jewelry line, visit the Blackbird and the Snow website.