In 2014 it’s easy to go to any store and buy a product that is mass produced and uniform in style. With no character to differentiate one from the next, it’s simple to find things that are perfect to the point of boring. That is why I am so enchanted with handmade artwork. When we buy handmade, we get a glimpse of someone else’s story. When an artist creates, she shares a part of herself that might otherwise be hidden. Also, when we buy handmade, we support individual artists and their families instead of paying a corporation and hoping that it trickles down to the individuals who work there.
Today I am interviewing an artist whose work I became enchanted with several months ago. Her name is Mariya Bogatyreva, and she lives and works in the Ural Mountains of Russia, where she runs Ural Nature on Etsy with her husband, Stanislav. Together they create jewelry that encases real flowers, leaves, moss, and lichen in crystal resin. The work feels like a time capsule – freezing one perfect moment of beauty forever. I recently purchased one of their dandelion necklaces, and it is amazing to behold. It is incredible seeing how the delicate seeds weren’t crushed and instead are held perfectly forever.
Mariya was kind enough to answer some questions for me via email from her home in Russia about her work with Ural Nature and her creative process.
How did you start making jewelry? What inspired you to use natural foliage in your work?
I have been a nature lover since childhood, so I became a landscape architect. I loved my work, but in Russia the winter is too long and very cold, and I can work as a landscape architect only 4-5 months a year. At first resin jewelry making was just a hobby in which I could indulge in the winter, but now it has grown into a small family business. My husband helps me all around. He was a foundry production engineer, and he taught me some tricks with the crystal resin.
What is your process in making jewelry?
Together we have learned from scratch to create perfectly clean and smooth balls without any bubbles. This is a long process that requires special equipment and compliance technologies. First, we make silicone molds of various shapes and cautiously fill them with plants, then pour the crystal resin and give it polymerize for a few days. The most difficult process is the whole dandelion necklace – most importantly do not breathe.
Tell me about the Ural Mountains where you find the plants that you use in your work.
Ural Mountains is a mountain range in the heart of Russia, near the city where we live. The Ural Mountains have their own charm and uniqueness; their beauty captivates and fascinates. Small streams and large rivers for many years made their way among the mountains and formed a truly magical scene of nature with steep banks of fantastic beauty. The real natural wonders inspire us to create unique designs using native plant materials.
Are you able to find plants for your jewelry all year around, or do you have to save plants from the spring and summer?
In the summer we love to raft along numerous rivers of the Ural: Chusovaya, Sylva, Vishera, Koyva, etc. During these travels we have a chance to collect the plants from the wild nature. A lot of materials that we used came directly from the forests, and the other part is growing in our garden. We collect the plants in the spring, summer, and early autumn and store them during winter days, so we can work all year ’round.
What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out?
My advice to an artist who is just starting out: Just be yourself and do what you really love.
Image credit: Photos by David Busch