Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we are all deeply connected to nature. In a world where technology has taken over just about every industry, discovering a brand that goes back to basics in the most thoughtful, user-sensitive way can be a gold mine. Incorporating a slice of nature into wearable items that you can take with you wherever you go in whatever assortment you desire is a concept that seems almost far-fetched, right? Not for Petal and Clay, a brand that has come up with a solution to bring you closer to the beauty of nature regardless of your location.
Rose Otter of Petal and Clay. Photo courtesy of Myray Creative
Nobody captures the vibrancy and essence of nature more efficiently than Petal and Clay, a jewelry brand that is sensitive to what earth and mother nature has to offer. Feminine with an outburst of color combinations, their beautiful necklaces allow you to take a piece of nature with you wherever you go. It is a concept born at the hands of Rose Otter, whose deep connection to nature, and especially flowers, originates from her childhood in southern Oregon where she played in its rich flower fields as a child. Petal and Clay is a user-conscious brand allowing you a canvas to mix and match assortments of flowers, leafs or fresh springs in a necklace style featuring delicate, handmade clay vases.
For those that are caught in the bustle and hustle of the big city, a little reminder of the beauty of live flowers you can actually wear and hold near to you at all times can certainly make the day a little better. The beautiful work you'll see below captures a dreamy, romantic quality that is bold yet feminine in a clean, pastel sort-of-way. Rose Otter, the brand's creative director, tells us a little bit more about her unique concept and the carefully crafted process that goes into building every piece from design to production.
How was the name “petal and clay” born and what is its significance?
I had been playing around with different names for a while but I didn’t have one that I loved. I spent a weekend with my childhood friend and she actually came up with it! We knew right away that it was perfect. It felt even more special that she came up with the name because her and I grew up playing in flower-filled meadows together.
There is a special connection to flowers in your work. Can you talk a bit about where this passion for nature, and especially flowers, originates? What connects/attracts you to them?
I grew up in a very small community in southern Oregon where we lived off the land and spent most of our time outside. We had an outdoor kitchen and shower and slept outside all summer. During the day, us kids would run through the meadows and creeks, climb trees and play games in the forest. My favorite place to be was this magical field that was filled with wildflowers behind our house.
Is there perhaps a place, event, etc. that has been a great point of inspiration for you in your design work?
My inspiration comes from nature and incorporating it into everyday life. Growing up, I remember spending my summers crafting jewelry and crowns out of wildflowers and grass from our backyard. I often think of that place and how it felt laying in the tall grass watching the flowers dance in the wind.
When I moved to Portland, I all of a sudden felt like a little field mouse in a big city. It was overwhelming. Portland felt like such a huge city to me. I lived near Forest Park so I would go on walks almost every day. I always had a few little flowers or leaves I found. I would put them in my pockets to carry for the day. I also gathered flowers and greenery and make little bouquets for my house.
Photos courtesy of Alisha Jucevic
What connects you to jewelry design and how did you get started in this field?
I have always loved making things with my hands. I usually have a few projects going at once and I love to learn new skills. I had little experience with jewelry before I came up with this vision. I remember seeing a beautiful little vase one day and thinking, “how wonderful would it be to carry a flower-filled vase with you all of the time!”
When I first had my idea of the vase necklace I thought of all different materials it could be made with. I even tried making it on a wheel, but quickly realized that wouldn’t work. I then took a private ceramic lesson to get the basics figured out. I made lots of mistakes, but also asked a lot of questions. The process took longer than expected, but I really wanted it to be perfect before I shared it.
"I often think of that place and how it felt laying in the tall grass watching the flowers dance in the wind."
Tell us a bit about the concept behind your unique jewelry. The necklaces are designed to house fresh flowers in the desired assortment. What brought on this unique idea and what inspired you to create such a sensitive, user-conscious design?
The idea came to me because I really wanted to be able to wear fresh flowers throughout the day. Nature is one of the most grounding and precious gifts around us, and these necklaces allow you to carry a piece of that close to your heart. I had vases in my house and even a little vase in my car but I wanted something that I could keep with me at all times.
Photo courtesy of Myray Creative
Do you have a favorite piece/flower assortment so far and what resonates with you most in this body of work?
My favorite style is my original design and what I envisioned when I first had the idea for the necklaces. They are the white vase necklaces with gold accents. I love the simplicity and elegance of this design, and the way it draws your attention to the flowers
Describe your creative/production process. How is the idea born, and what is your process from conceptualization to production? Do you start with a sketch or do you use your artistic instinct and start directly with the materials at hand?
I am always thinking of new ideas and new designs especially when I’m working with the clay or out collecting flowers. When I have a new idea it can completely take over and I have to drop everything to make one prototype. This gets the idea out of my head and into something physical.
"Nature is one of the most grounding and precious gifts around us, and these necklaces allow you to carry a piece of that close to your heart. "
What materials/media do you work with most and what is that process like?
All of my pieces are made from different types of clay. I’ve tried using different clay bodies and porcelains, but after lots of experimentation have found one that works best.
My favorite part of the process is working with the clay. It’s meditative for me to work with my hands and craft each piece individually. Each necklace goes through three or four different steps, so they are all filled with my love and care. I feel like each one carries hope and beauty and it feels important to share and spread that intention.
Each piece is hand molded, and then gets fired and glazed. In between each firing I do some smoothing and shaping. The last step is attaching the gold chain and wire, which is fun because it’s a whole different set of tools and skill set.
Are you experimenting with any new materials/designs at the moment?
I am always thinking of new designs but right now, I am focusing on streamlining and perfecting my current line.
Photo courtesy of Petal and Clay
What have been the greatest challenges in taking your nature-conscious, unique design concept to market in such a mass produced, competitive field?
The most difficult part has been putting my idea out there and being open to the possibility of failure or disappointment. On the production side, the most difficult part is making each piece look the same. Because each piece is handmade and goes through multiples firings, it takes focus and some luck to have them all come out the same. Their slight differences are also what give them their unique handmade style.
Photo courtesy of Josh Romberg
"It’s meditative for me to work with my hands and craft each piece individually... I feel like each one carries hope and beauty and it feels important to share and spread that intention."
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Designer by trade and dressmaker at heart. I spend most of my days obsessing over new fabrics and daydreaming new ideas.
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