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Mushka Designs

Mushka Designs

Metal Meets Its Maker

Mushka Designs Sarah Wilson, sole designer and creator, launched Mushka Designs 2004. Mushka Designs features an exclusive collection of pieces with themes of nature and Sarah describes her jewelry style as “embodying an elegant simplicity inspired by nature” as each piece is meticulously crafted using silver, gold, red brass, or bronze. Her work experience and education in art has influenced her to create from a contemporary perspective while staying true to old-world metalsmithing techniques.  With nature as her muse, her pieces exhibit the natural beauty of leaves, branches, blossoms, and more.  Sarah says, “The infinite strength and beauty that I see in nature and in people inspires me every day.”  When Sarah was born, her grandmother nicknamed her Mushka, which means “little fly” in Polish, because Sarah resembled a bug with her big brown eyes.  As that name has been a part of her since the beginning, it seemed fitting to name her company Mushka Designs.  The name also honors her Polish heritage and strong connection with family and friends.  She also finds the name appropriate because being an artist is not just about having skilled hands, but also watchful eyes to observe the world and express those observations through metalwork.  She says, “I consider jewelry as miniature sculptures meant to commemorate a person, feeling, or even a special occasion.  I am passionate about the creative process and always infuse my work with personal sentiments.”  

Mushka Designs is unique in more ways than one.  First, every single piece is handmade by Sarah in her home studio so that each item is given a great deal of attention from start to finish.  Even if she has multiple productions of the same design, she treats each piece as if it were the first and only piece.  “As a result, each piece may vary slightly in its finish, its texture, or other subtle ways making them all one of a kind,” says Sarah.  She welcomes custom-ordered designs to meet specific customer needs because she is committed to making the designing process as personally meaningful as possible for both her and the wearer.  Another thing that sets Mushka Designs apart from the rest is the balance of nature as inspiration and metal as medium.  She describes, “The designs are elegant reflections of the natural world while the material used (metal) is very industrial.  I allow both sides, natural and industrial, to come through in each piece. This gives each design a balance of strength and beauty… something that I think all women can relate to.” 

Mushka Designs Sarah’s all time favorite and first official collection is the Earth Collection because it reminds her of where she started and what designing jewelry really means to her.  From this collection, we selected the Coiled Leaf Necklace in sterling silver.  This lovely piece features an organically coiled sterling leaf that is lightly oxidized while capturing the fine detail and shape of a real leaf.  Sarah’s talent in metalsmithing is evident as the coiled stem of metal displays fluidity and movement. She loves the Earth collection because it set the tone for all things to come, and while it was inspired by nature, it was also inspired by the most amazing woman in the world, her mother.  Sarah recollects that in college she made a Mother’s Day present of four sterling silver leaves hanging together, each representing one of her children.  Sarah chose leaves because, “I felt like they symbolized individual growth and beauty nurtured from the love and care of our mom.”  For Sarah, this was probably one of the most meaningful pieces she had created at that point as it made her realize how powerful jewelry could be.  From then on, her new outlook began with a fresh perspective of really looking at nature as a symbol for human emotions and connections and jewelry as a unique way for people to express their feelings for one another.  

Mushka DesignsMushka Designs features eight distinct collections that include: Earth, Mod, Blossom, Organic Adornments, Leaf Link, Slate, Love Tags, and Nightfall.  In her Leaf Link collection, the Double Leaflink Necklace is an uncomplicated piece that simplistically captivating.  Two lightly oxidized sterling leaf links are soldered together to maintain a natural and realistic placement.  We love the unique hand made toggle clasp of a leaf link for its artfulness.  Nature is a colossal inspiration to Sarah, who says, “I am constantly observing the world around me and am inspired by the infinite number of shapes and textures found in nature.”  She is just as passionate about the art of metalsmithing and often creates new designs while experimenting with metal and tools in her studio.  “There Mushka Designsare so many amazing and surprising ways to manipulate metal, a cold, hard material, into something delicate, elegant, and beautiful. This process is very inspiring,” she shares. A perfect compliment to this necklace is a pair of matching earrings featuring the same leaf links. The Three Links Earrings are casual enough for everyday, yet distinct enough to compliment any wardrobe.  These 2 ½” earrings are made of three lightly oxidized silver leaf links hanging vertically and linked to each other.  They are surprisingly light and comfortable to wear and sway with natural movement that will not go unnoticed.

As far as she can remember, Sarah has always wanted to be an artist because she loved creating and had a family who constantly encouraged her every step of the way.  When asked if she had a creative side, Sarah said she could not imagine her life without creating.  As a kid, she would do fun and creative things like paint her canvas Keds, make clothespin dolls, sew Barbie clothes with her grandma, build a dollhouse with her dad, and paint murals on her bedroom walls.  Sarah was always making something, whether it was taking art classes, making her own Halloween costumes, or creating her own clay.  Her dad showed her how to build, her grandmother taught her how to sew and knit, and her jewelry teacher in high school introduced her to metalsmithing and jewelry design, where she got to work for a local goldsmith at sixteen.  Even as a teenager, it seemed clear to Sarah that jewelry making would be her path. 

Her parents and teachers encouraged her to apply to the University of Michigan School of Art and Design and the Dean personally advised her to focus on Metalwork.  Sarah studied Jewelry Design, Metalwork, and Graphic Design in college, while also working as a graphic designer for the university.  With metalwork as her focus, she developed a special and unique connection with metal as she discovered a sense of inner strength from working with tools and manipulating metal into sculptural pieces of jewelry.  As she became more comfortable on the workbench, her personal style evolved and she realized how expressive this medium could be.  Sarah says, “I soon discovered that creating jewelry allowed me to preserve a single special moment or feeling in time forever. That is powerful. With this realization, my appreciation and passion for the craft grew.”

Upon graduating in 2002, Sarah moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the arts and live by the ocean.  She quickly found work for a local sculptor and set up her own workshop in her spare time. Space was so limited that she built herself a workbench at the foot of her bed and soldered new jewelry designs over the kitchen stove. To further refine her skills, Sarah spent the next three years experimenting on her own and working for various designers before launching Mushka Designs. Sunny and beautiful Southern California as her new home gave her an endless supply of natural inspiration.

Mushka DesignsIn her Slate collection, the Concave Double Necklace displays a smaller concave gold disc gently nestled against a slightly larger outlining concave gold disc.  Without being fancy or loud, this down-to-earth necklace is perfect for those always on the go because it is subtle and looks great whether you are wearing sweats or a summer dress.  Unlike many other jewelry designers, Sarah is not looking to mass produce or outsource labor in order to expand her name.  Because it is the actual intensive labor of metalsmithing that she is in love with, Sarah is completely content with keeping her company small in order to truly create pieces with the thought and attention her customers deserve.  Of course, this will not stop Sarah from adding more nature-inspired pieces as the years progress and selling them to small, independent boutiques that focus on handcrafted items by individual artists.  Far, far down the road, Sarah would also like to launch some one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces and “go beyond people’s expectation of what jewelry is suppose to be.” 

If you are looking for something more personalized and utterly unique, the Love Tags collection is something to brag about!  Mushka DesignsA personalized Love Tag Necklace is a miniature dog tag style piece in sterling silver where each tag is hand sawed and stamped.  The tags hang about 1 ½” and can be customer printed with your wedding date, initials, birthday, special names, or words.  The petite love tags hang from a lightly oxidized micro ball chain to add a rugged element.  Sarah was kind enough to custom create a piece as shown and would be more than happy to do the same for anyone who is interested.  Aside from her current line, Sarah also creates many one-of-a-kind pieces on the side for art shows or special orders.  These limited pieces can be viewed on her blog.  In Los Angeles, Mushka Designs can be found at Cake Jewelry, Accents, and Freehand and her collection can also be found at online and retail boutiques nationwide.  Sarah is currently based out of Miami, Florida. Her strong connection to the West Coast and California will continue to inspire her to create jewelry that embodies casual elegance, but Sarah is also embracing her new environment and finding diversity in the vast landscape of Miami. Visit her website at www.mushkadesigns.com and her online shop at www.etsy.com.

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