Today we’re joined by Emily, who is behind Moss of the Woods Jewelry. As the title suggests, Emily is a jewelry maker. She takes a lot of inspiration from nature and her work is absolutely gorgeous. Looking at the lovely flowers and plants was really a treat. My thanks to her for taking the time to be interviewed.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am a jewelry artist who works in the medium of resin. In my Etsy shop, I preserve pressed and dried plant specimens in panes of clear “glass” resin. The pieces are omages to herbarium collections, and are themselves meant to be little personalized herbarium specimens. I even go so far as to type out little informational cards, reminiscent of the data sheets included with specimens in herbariums, on my old 1950’s typewriter, complete with information about where and in what condition each specimen was harvested, which I send out with each purchase.
All the plant specimens I use I harvest by hand from the local wilds, and press myself using my own home-made plant presses.
What inspires you?
Without being too obvious… plants! Plants, and, just, naturalism and nature in general. I’m a gigantic nerd hippie and have pretty much just been obsessed with nature and the natural sciences my whole life. I’ve grown near and around the forests of the Appalachian Trail region of Western Massachusetts and meadows and abandoned farms my whole life, and nature has always been very important to me; even since childhood, these natural environments were a place for me to retreat to and take comfort in, both mentally and spiritually.
Additionally, I just love plant anatomy. It’s like a perfect marriage of art and science. I’ve long been fascinated by the morphology of plants and took artistic inspiration from that.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
This whole journey really started years ago, when I was a young teenager. I was visiting the peak of Mt. Washington, in New Hampshire, with my family. In the main lodge at the peak, hidden behind the gift shop, was a dusty old miniature museum, wherein they preserved alpine plant specimens in a sheet of illuminated plastic, organized by their corresponding mountain ecosystem. I was so enchanted by those pressed plants in that plastic, with the backlight shining through their leaves, their roots splayed and visible, that – as silly as it sounds now – I was moved nearly to tears.
Years later, when I discovered resin, it took very little time for me to put two and two together, and immediately wanted to try to make a little wearable plant specimen for myself. Over time, I made more, took to selling them, and the rest is history.
I sort of always wanted to be an artist off and on. I’ve always done art in some form or another, and my friends, family, and teachers, always urged me to pursue it as a career. But I was also equally interested in science. Years ago, I was on my way through university in the hopes of being a botanist, but life found a way and I needed to drop out for financial reasons. After that, I was working in a grocery store as a cashier for many years, and it was really, really taking a toll on my mental health. One day I was temporarily suspended for a minor infraction, and, in a moment of impulsivity, resolved to just never go back, no matter the consequences, taking my tiny Etsy shop full time. That first year was rough… it was the poorest I’ve ever been, constantly worrying where my next meal was going to be coming from. But by the second year, I was finally able to live comfortably with my Etsy shop, and its pretty much all thanks to the absolutely wonderful people on Tumblr.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Hmmmm, well, nothing really intentional that I can think of, although I do inadvertently use ferns a lot in my design. I don’t know why, ferns just seem like they go everywhere and on everything to me. Whenever I have a design I need to make for a banner or header for my shop, or blank space on a package or anything, I always slap a fern on there. Ferns make everything better.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
I suppose, just keep doing what you’re doing and people will notice you, eventually. Embrace your uniqueness and make what you want to make, not what you think people will want to see. I know it seems generic but that is really all there is to it. Make a blog, or an Instagram, or whatever you feel comfortable with, and just keep posting.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am a demisexual bisexual person who is and probably always will be second guessing their gender identity, but probably somewhere around the vicinity of demigirl.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
To be honest, I have not, but that is because I haven’t dared to tell anyone about my sexual orientation. Asexuality, and asexual spectrum like demisexuality and gray-sexuality in particular, are still not valid identities to so many people, I’ve always been too scared to reveal my orientation openly; I just don’t have the energy to fight with someone who wants to try to invalidate it.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That asexual people are delicate snowflakes who are triggered by anything pertaining to sex. Not to invalidate or speak ill of any asexuals who are, of course, but in the past I’ve had people basically treat me like a small child, careful never to make lewd jokes or talk about their relationships in front of me.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
The world is your oyster. Never settle for anything less than what you want. If you’re demisexual and think no one would be willing to wait for you to develop attraction, you’re wrong. If you are sex-repulsed and think that no one will love a person who can’t engage them sexually, you are wrong. If you are aromantic and think no one will ever love you platonically and unconditionally, you are wrong. You deserve to be happy, and there are enough people in the world that you never, ever have to settle for something you are uncomfortable with or a life without the kind of relationship you want. Be confident, and keep looking.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
For updates, coupons, random pretty pictures of flowers, rants and ravings, follow me here on my Tumblr at (mossofthewoodsjewelry.tumblr.com).
Finally, my Etsy shop (mossofthewoods.etsy.com).
Thank you, Emily, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.