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A Jewelry Invitational: Featuring Grace Matsumoto

color / texture / form – a jewelry invitational: Grace Matsumoto's Tiny Fat Bird handmade jewelry is inspired by the organic shapes and textures of her native Pacific Northwest. 

We chatted a bit with Grace about her successes and "failing faster":

How would you describe what you make?

I make limited production, ethical jewelry using my own designs & centuries-old metal smithing techniques. I take great pride in sourcing my precious metals from Hoover & Strong, a U.S. refiner of precious metals who have been supplying refining services and ethical silver, gold, and platinum for jewelers for over a century. Their entire supply is recycled, and I am part of that supply, catching silver & gold filings & scrap as I work, and sending it back to them to be cleaned up, melted down and alloyed into new metal. The short answer is that I make minimal, sometimes wabi-sabi or utilitarian jewelry and source my materials ethically.

Can you tell us about your favorite piece in your current collection?

Right now, my favorite is a Blip Pendant, in a small oblong oxidized silver shape with 10k gold fused into little baubles within it. My favorites are always the most minimal; something that I can throw on in the morning and not have to think about, even if I go out to manage something in my garden, or run through a yoga routine during the day. This necklace goes with everything in my wardrobe, from a t-shirt and jeans, to a dress for a holiday party! 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

My husband gave me the best advice, delivered at the right moment - when I was sitting in my relatively new studio, looking at what I had made so far, and comparing it to my sketchbook, and completely despondent; I felt like a failure, completely incapable of making anything that would be beautiful. He looked at me, and cheerfully commanded: “Fail Faster!” Fail faster is the best advice I have received and often tell other people feeling the same way. Fail; over and over again, find some joy in it and then get back to work, because every failure brings you closer to working out the problem. If you never get past those moments when you feel like a failure, even if you work it out and eventually succeed, the process will certainly not have been very fun. The Fail Faster mantra also helps to keep me from taking myself too seriously.

What inspired you to make jewelry?

Ever since I was very young, I’ve been drawn to metalwork and jewelry; less as decoration than an expression of self, a sort of social armor or identity. I was fortunate to have access to silversmithing classes when I was in school, so when I was asked as an adult, “if you could do anything, what would you do?” my answer was “make jewelry”. At first, I tried making what was trendy, and I was miserable. I decided to just make jewelry for myself, as an expression of myself I wanted people to see, without words or explanation, and to my surprise, that was what resonated with people. Now, I make jewelry to connect with the world, and it reassures me that I am not alone in my ideas and aesthetic. I also cannot overstate how much I enjoy hitting metal with hammers and lighting things on fire.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or not, who would it be and why?

Margaret Atwood. Her writing speaks to me, and to sit down with her and talk about the future as she sees it from where we are now, and then interpret that future in jewelry that would be worn, and the reasons behind why different people chose differently.

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