Happy changing of the seasons everyone. The Seattle rain is living up to its reputation this autumn. My rain boots are clocking in overtime, and one of them has already developed a leak -- eek! Hope all of you didn't forget that daylight savings was just the other day too. The nights are surely getting chillier and longer! It's a great time to snuggle up with a good read, like our latest High Five: Five Serious and Not-So-Serious Questions for our Makers blog post series!
We are delighted to introduce you to Grace Matsumoto of Tiny Fat Bird. Grace is local to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and we adore her beautifully made line of jewelry. Get to know Grace of Tiny Fat Bird with us. Then come by our shop and check out her jewelry pieces in-person!
MK: Can you tell us a little bit about your path to jewelry-making? How did you get started? Did you always know you'd be a jewelry artist?
GM: I actually thought I’d be a ceramicist or sculptor; I spent my entire childhood and adolescence working with clay and porcelain, and was admitted to college with a porcelain sculpture portfolio. But I had taken a jewelry course in high school that I fell in love with and turned into an independent study. Once I graduated college, I found my way to jewelry classes locally at Danaca, and into the industry as a bench jeweler at Outcast. I had the hubris almost right after my time at Danaca to walk into some local places and tell them to carry my jewelry, and I’ve been really honored and privileged to be able to make and sell my work ever since then.
MK: Our shop carries a range of lovely Tiny Fat Bird necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. I really enjoy seeing how the pieces feel like family: all related to each other, yet each piece has its own distinct characteristics. How would you describe your aesthetic? When designing new pieces, is it important to you that your pieces relate to each other as a whole?
GM: It’s really important to me that everything have a connection in some way to the rest of the collections; I don’t know how common this is, but I see building a collection of designs kind of like city planning; I don't want everything to be the same, but I’m trying to make the homes and buildings on each block complement each other.
MK: The metals used in your jewelry line are nickel free, and sourced from a globally recognized company that uses 100% recycled precious metals. Why is using recycled and nickel free metals important to you?
GM: When I started having issues with nickel, it was with my (then white gold) wedding ring started irritating my ring finger. I’d had the ring something like a year and a half at that point.
We took my hand - and my ring in to the jewelers who had made and sold us our wedding rings, and when they said” oh yeah, that happens, we’ll just re-plate it”, I did a double take, and spent some really rage-induced time researching gold, gold mines, and the chemicals used to mine, refine and alloy white gold. It’s outrageous that with so much gold - so many diamonds for that matter - already mined and in circulation - that we continue to destroy and pollute the land and water supplies where precious metals and materials are mined. Don’t even get me started on the textile industry. I had always been passionate about the environment and ethical sourcing of food and clothing - thinking actively about the imprint we have as individuals on this planet, and precious metals mining and refining was a natural evolution for that passion. I take real pride in sourcing from Hoover and Strong, who also refine my scrap silver and gold that I save while I work.
MK: As we approach the new year (can you believe it!), what new projects are you looking forward to working on, either jewelry-related or personally - or both!
GM: I have a whole collection of more art-jewelry pieces using stones I’ve been hoarding, and I’m really excited about where that’s going. We also bought some land at the end of 2020, and we’re going to build a house and our studios. I’m nervous, but I’m excited to make a space from scratch instead of adapting to one, and for all of the trees and native plants we’re bringing in to plant this year and next.
MK: In honor of Spooky Season, a couple weekends ago - tell us about your favorite Halloween costume. What was the candy you most looked forward to getting in your basket?
GM: I was so boring! I always trick or treated as a black cat, always at a beach community near the house where I grew up - and made out like a bandit; I think I came home on my last year - I was 9 - with a Nordstrom shoe - the boot size - bag full of candy. I never was able to eat it all. My favorite is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and I love being an adult who can just buy a bag of them for myself.
Thank you so much for talking to us Grace. Can't wait to see your future art-inspired jewelry pieces. Oh, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?! We are definitely trick-or-treating at your doorstep next year!
Find out more about Grace and her beautiful jewelry pieces at Tiny Fat Bird Studio.