Grey Jays is a jewelry and homewares line with a unique twist…all the materials used to make their items are found and foraged. The process is intriguing on a few different levels. It’s highly supportive of sustainability, and it also serves to honor nature and the cycles of life. I spoke to co-founder Lindsey Antram about the super cool concept and process behind the beautiful line.
Tell me about the plan to use found and foraged items in your jewelry.
Each piece created is made from a repurposed metal finding or a found natural object. The inspiration came while living on San Juan Island in Washington; we would scour the beaches for driftwood, sea glass and anything that caught our eye. We later moved to a more urban setting in Portland and Boise and this is when we incorporated found metal objects. This is extremely important because we do not believe in waste. Utilizing every part of something to give our customers a different perspective on common objects such a metal washer or moss found on the ground is the goal. We hope to inspire reuse into our customers’ daily lives.
Where do you generally find items? Do you stumble across things, go looking, both?
We find items everywhere and are always looking, but sometimes it is serendipitous. As though mother nature knows we are supposed to find a beautiful stone or bones while on a hike enjoying her beauty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost stepped on a bone to stop and look down just at the right moment.
We often are given things from customers which is so magical and fun. People we don’t even know will email us or show up at the studio with a bag of beautiful stones they found or a special finding they have been carrying for years; that they want to share that with us is very special.
Do you make custom items?
Yes, we have so many customers that contact us with found objects. Items like a piece of porcelain from their grandmother’s china or a stone they found while on a hike during their honeymoon that want it incorporated into a piece of jewelry.
What’s the most unique item you’ve used?
The most unique item we have used has to be the inside of a bungee cord. We were walking down an alley in Portland and saw this busted open bungee, looked at each other, grabbed it and instantly made one of our now most popular items!
What sort of challenges (if any) go along with that process?
The main challenge is probably not being trained jewelers, but that is also part of the fun. We are self-taught and that has had its ups and downs, but being able to learn alongside each other and with those in our communities is inspiring. The beauty of grey jays is that we are confined to one form or process because of the materials we used. It’s never a dull moment at the studio; whether we are soldering a setting to hold a stone or electroforming an old honeycomb.
Anything you’d like to use in your work that you haven’t yet?
I’m not sure there’s any material we haven’t used but there are processes we are dying to get into. I am planning to start metal casting some of our found objects such as bones and moss into brass and copper – I cannot wait to give these natural objects a longer, more durable life.
Do you ever have a hard time parting with pieces that you’ve made?
Oh boy, yes. I think because each piece has it’s own unique story and adventure behind it, it becomes hard to part with that connection. But also what makes selling these pieces so much fun is sharing that adventure with a customer and them building a connection to it because they have either been to the place we found it or fall in love with the story.
Do you have any personal jewelry staples or do you switch things up?
My personal staples are the moss ring and bungee earrings. I love wearing them together and colliding the natural and man-made elements. I also love supporting my local jewelry artists and friends here in Boise so you will always see me in different pieces.
You started as a duo and now live in different places, tell me about that journey.
Callie and I have been creating jewelry for nearly four years now. We have worked a handful of seasonal jobs together from a salmon processing plant in Alaska to a kayak and whale watching tour company in San Juan Island and we have been running grey jays apart from each other for most of this time. It has always been difficult being in different places but coming together through these odd jobs and this business has kept our friendship close through the years. We are always meeting somewhere new to forage for objects and now I get to visit her in New Mexico and incorporate that desert feel into grey jays.
Since Callie has started grad school in Albuquerque I have taken over the business, but she still sends me pieces when she can. This has been a difficult transition for us both – going from two people to one and her having to step aside for her schooling, but we stay connected through our art.
So many exciting things are on the horizon for grey jays. I am learning to do lost wax metal casting for my found objects and am moving into a storefront here in Idaho called the Garden City Projects with some amazing women makers.
Callie is starting to create tinctures and other homeopathic products from natural materials in New Mexico and I am excited to open this new line of work to our customers soon.
The store is located inside the Garden City Projects in Garden City, Idaho. Find Grey Jays at greyjays.com.