US-based independent jewellery brand Laura Stamper Designs creates beautiful pieces of colourful enamel jewellery with artistic inspirations. Laura is always looking for new ways to express herself through her art. Showcasing versatile pieces, Laura Stamper Designs will always bring you a creative statement with a story to tell behind every piece.
Laura Stamper chats to JewelStreet about the history of her brand, inspiration for her designs, brand values and much more!
How did your brand begin?
By accident! I was laid off from my "real" job in a hospital in 1991. My husband insisted I pursue my art. At first, I thought it would be painting because that is where most of my experience was, but it was quicker for me to pull a body of work together using my ceramic skills. I started by drawing images on small porcelain pieces, glazing them and turning them into jewellery.
When did you first fall in love with designing and knew you wanted to become a designer?
I cannot remember a time when I wasn't creating something. As a child, when I ran out of paper, I started to draw on the walls. In my early teens, I drew and painted pictures on my clothes and painted pictures on seashells that I turned into jewellery.
It's just something that I have always done, create. It's as much a part of me as breathing. I have always thought that reincarnation has to be real, because one lifetime is not enough for me to make everything, that my mind imagines.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
What doesn't generate inspiration? I love spending time with small children. They are in awe of their surroundings and have an unshakable belief in magic. Einstein said, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious". Laura Stamper Designs is my way of sharing that mystery. It also helps that I have a really short attention span, so I am always itching to start the next thing.
Each piece is made one at a time, by my hands, in my studio. I use traditional fabrication techniques using hammers, saws and a torch. 95% of all the silver and gold I use is from recycled metals and the gemstones I use are ethically sourced as well.
Are there any specific manufacturing/crafting techniques you use?
I love experimentation and I love to break the rules. Recently a collector of mine sent me a box of dead cicadas. I have been encasing their beautiful, fragile wings in optical quartz with 24kt gold. Using lapidary equipment, I have been making cabochons of the wings to create one of a kind wearable heirlooms of the future. This process has opened up an entirely new rabbit hole for me to fall into!
Tell us about some of your most inspiring clients, or bespoke commissions.
I am always honoured when I am approached to make a personal reliquary for someone to memorialize a loved one. Whether it is a cloisonné portrait of a fur baby or a wearable hollow vessel to hold the ashes of a beloved, there is no honour I consider more dear.
Can you recall a particular moment with a client that will stay with you forever? Could be a funny horror story or a fond memory.
I don't really pay any attention to trends. I make what wants to be made. Several years ago, when I was still working with porcelain, I made a wearable sculpture of a leopard that had a woman's face climbing a tree (fossil coral) to a nest that held a creature that had a bird's body and the face of a girl. I made this piece in the month of November and it did not sell for an entire year.
It was my favourite sculptural brooch, so I really didn't care that it hadn't sold. I just liked looking at it. The following November, a woman saw this piece at an art show and began to cry. She told me that her grandmother had died the previous November. Her grandmother was called Kitty.
Her grandmother's pet name for her was Birdie. She went on to tell me that she always knew that she was her grandmother's favourite and that her grandmother would always find her. To this day, I believe that Kitty reached out to me when she died and inspired this piece for Birdie to find a year later.
If you hadn't become a designer, what would you be doing?
That's easy. I would be painting. During the Covid quarantine, I started painting again. I started with realistic portraits in oils. That has led to receiving commissions for 2-3 pet portraits a month. I've also been experimenting with mixed media collage paintings of birds.
Do you work with any charities?
Black Lives Matter, Metalsmiths for Change, Natural Resources Defense Council
John Singer Sargent! His use of light leaves me breathless. Sargent is then followed by Klimt, Dali and Kahlo.
Are there any other designers whose work you particularly admire?
Melinda Risk and Bibi Vander Velden. Both of these women leave me humbled and in awe. Their work has also inspired me to explore working with wax casting. More to come on that, stay tuned!
What music inspires you to create new designs?
Old school R&B, reggae and Bruno Mars. If you can dance to it, you can make jewellery to it!
How do your brand values align with those of JewelStreet?
I appreciate that JewelStreet honours both the creative and personal vision of the artist. As a fellow inhabitant of this planet, I do whatever I can to honour the mother earth and the creatures I share space with. As an artist, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my vision and my voice with the world.
If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?
It is the ring that I wear every day. My husband died in November of 2017. It was sudden and shocking. I saved some of his ashes and encased them in a hollow form reliquary ring. It has a 2kt sapphire (his birthstone) and 22kt gold granulation which represents our 39 years together. It wasn't always smooth, but it was beautiful.
What is your favourite quote?
Every problem emerges from the false belief we are separate from one another, and every answer emerges from the realization we are not. - Marianne Williamson
Thanks for talking to us Laura!