Upcycle/Recycle – Seventh Cloud Studios

Sorry it’s been a bit.  I have been in small square hell and trying to finish up a large custom order.  Meet Courtney from Seventh Cloud Studio.  All of her pieces are upcycled/recycled from varying inspirations.  If you are looking for a unique gift, this could be the shop.

Tell me a bit about you and your Etsy shop…

Let’s see…I live in the beautiful Hudson Valley area of New York with my moody-but-loveable chinchilla Pablo. My primary business is as a freelance writer—mostly marketing copy, with the occasional memoir editing project or travel article thrown in. My first love is writing fiction, and strange as it sounds, that’s how I discovered jewelry-making: I was away at a writing workshop and discovered a bead store in town. It quickly became an addiction that continued after I went home. Eventually, people started asking me if I sold my jewelry, and finally I decided that I’d better start, because I had way more than any one person will ever need! A friend told me about Etsy and Seventh Cloud Studio was born.

To me, my jewelry, my writing, and my love of words and books are all related in my messy and tangled mind (my shop and my copywriting business share part of their names –Seventh Cloud—the “cloud” part of which was taken from a quote from writer Richard Brautigan; I get to use my writing skills when naming and writing descriptions for my jewelry; and creating jewelry using color and texture is similar to me to composing words that also work well together and set each other off).

My Etsy shop is unique in that every single piece is a completely original design that’s never duplicated—I only make one of each piece ever. I love using semi-precious stones (the properties and symbolisms of stones has always interested me), Hill Tribe silver, and incorporating pieces and elements of vintage jewelry and other objects into new pieces. I love to make big bold pieces that look great on tall and/or plus-sized women, or just women who have a big presence and personality and aren’t afraid to stand out! I also love to make unique pieces that are a bit more conservative but still have a certain “Seventh Cloud” style—so that even if you prefer a more classic and timeless look, you don’t need to wear cookie-cutter jewelry. Jewelry is a great way to make a simple outfit pop.

How did you get started using upcycled/recycled products?
I’ve always loved going to yard sales, flea markets, and antique shops and after I started making jewelry, I started noticing all the fantastic outdated brooches and broken necklaces and single earring, etc. that I could give new life to…I hate to see anything go to waste, and I love the idea of using things that are already in existence and have a history, rather than create a demand for things that don’t yet.

What do you like the most about using those products?
I love that I can take a brooch that someone’s grandma should wear, and combine it with new elements to make something modern and funky. I love that each piece has its own history, and I imagine that some of the previous owner’s experiences and energies become part of that piece and that they rub off on the new owner. (Like if you buy a vintage engagement ring, you want to know that the couple was happy.) I also love that I could pull out the same materials two days in a row and come up with two completely different designs—it all depends on my mood and experiences of that day, and each time I take out my beads, I see something different waiting to be created from them.

What do you like the least? Challenges?
Hmmmm….Well, I guess I’d say that sometimes I have to buy a box of stuff when I can only use 10% of what’s in it! And I guess that sometimes it can be tricky, depending on the construction of the piece, to convert it into something different…like fastening an old brooch to a necklace as a pendant. Sometimes I just can’t execute what I imagine because there’s no good way to attach or convert something. And that’s super frustrating and disappointing.

How do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. In an unusual color combination. A vintage piece that tells me it’s not ready to go to the curb after somebody’s yard sale. The weather (my Hurricane Irene series is a perfect example). An outfit I see on someone and think “That needs a necklace, a long one, with onyx and pink crazy lace agate.” A beautiful stone. A song. A story. Memories and mysteries. My sister’s graceful neck (she’s modeling many of the pieces in my Etsy shop, and is tall and statuesque—built perfectly for some of the bigger ones!) A country or a national park. Something I’ve done or want to do.

And the Rain Came Down

What feedback do you have from others about using these products?
People love them because when I combine something old with new elements, they know they’re getting something completely original. They love to hear about what the piece was originally and how I got it. And there’s a nostalgia too…People have said things like “Oh, my grandmother wore a pin like that!” and while a pin like that would be too old fashioned for them, the fact that it’s used in a necklace that’s modern or trendy or playful or timeless makes it something they respond to both emotionally and aesthetically.

Favorite upcycled/recycled item.

From my shop: “And the Rain Came Down” necklace from my Hurricane Irene series: see the photo above.  This actually uses a broken Christmas ornament that I got at a huge church yard sale. I made it when we were without power after Hurricane Irene hit our area last summer. I think that using the ornament as a focal point kind of parallels how people had to improvise during something we are not at all used to here—I’d never heard of so many alternative ways to make coffee during a power outage! In my immediate area, we were very lucky, but just a few miles away there was such devastation. You don’t hear much about it anymore, but there are still a lot of homes and businesses that need to rebuild. A portion of the sale of the three pieces in my Hurricane Irene series will go to the local Habitat for Humanity to help those efforts.

Another favorite from my shop, just because it’s so striking: On the Fringe necklace:

This features a focal point that was part of a broken necklace from a yard sale.

Another favorite that’s not listed: To wear one New Year’s Eve, I made myself a necklace that used my Dad’s God-mother’s stopped watch. I removed the band and hung it to float inside a diamond-shaped frame (also upcycled). Her initials are engraved on the back of it. Her life was a bit of a mystery, but she was an incredibly caring and good-hearted woman. We kind of consider Betty the patron saint of our family, so wearing that piece makes me feel close to her, and like she’s watching over me.