My kids love to make things. And they love to give me some of the things they make. I am constantly blessed with gifts from the backyard, gifts from the walk, gifts from crafts from school, and gifts from church. As you can imagine, with 4 kids, I’ve gotten many bouquets of garden flowers, colored pictures, fruit loop necklaces and cotton ball sheep ornaments. A flower tied around a piece of yarn, or a plate of leaves are also common-place gifts. Most of the time, they are displayed for a bit, and then they disappear (code for: are put in the trash), but every once in a while one of them makes something that I absolutely love. One of the kids made me a bracelet out of blue and green stained wooden beads that I wear a lot. I get so many compliments on it, and I’m always so happy to say that it was a handmade gift from my daughter. When I saw Nedda’s jewelry, I instantly loved it. It’s like a grown-up version of the type of gifts my children give. The process that she uses to take real life objects of nature, and turn them into wearable pieces of jewelry is amazing! I’m especially looking forward to Patchwork Oakland this year, because I want to make sure to check out her booth and see what she has to sell!
Please introduce yourself.
I am Nedda Szylewicz, the creator behind Enchanted Leaves Jewelry. I grew up in the small town of Moorpark, in California. I attended nearby California State University Channel Islands, earning my BA in Art, with an emphasis on fine art, graphic design, and photography. I met someone with a last name that was even harder to pronounce than mine – Shishegar- so I married Aaron Szylewicz in 2009, and he joined forces with me on the Enchanted Leaves team! My husband and our two magnificent cats reside in the appropriately named Thousand Oaks, California.
What do you make or do?
We make an eclectic variety of jewelry with themes in nature, animals, insects, miniature food, tiny objects, and symbolic designs from pop culture fandom.
Enchanted Leaves jewelry features a diverse range of media including glass, metals, wood, ceramic, gemstones, and organic materials.
The most fascinating process we use is called electroforming/electroplating. This method allows us to take handpicked organic materials and make them into beautiful metal jewelry using electricity. It starts with a completely dried item and it takes about 3 days and 6 steps to have a finished and wearable piece. We just love using real leaves and acorns with this technique!
To see step by step pictures and learn more about this process, we have set up a gallery here: https://enchantedleaves.com/pages/adventures-in-electroplating
Where can we find your creations?
You can view our shop at: https://www.EnchantedLeaves.com or find us at stores around the globe listed here: https://www.EnchantedLeaves.com/pages/find-us/#stock And of course, you can also catch us in person at the California Patchwork shows! 😀
https://dearhandmadelife.com/patchwork-show/upcoming-shows/ You can also follow us on Instagram, @EnchantedLeaves, for photos of our projects and designs in the works, and my personal art portfolio can be seen here: www.Heart-String.com
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
Back in 2001, I offered wearable leaf jewelry as an extension of my fantasy artwork. The leaves quickly became so popular, that I realized that I needed to market and brand them as their own entity. “Enchanted Leaves” was born – stemmed from the element of fantasy.
Over the past 13 years, Enchanted Leaves has organically grown and expanded into the broad, yet cohesive offerings we have today.
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
Jewelry started off as a fun hobby that earned a little spending money while I attended college. Even after completing school, I sold jewelry online and at local shows while I worked as a graphic artist in the fashion industry. Although just a “hobby”, I spent every moment of my free time developing products, designing my website, researching new shows to vend at, marketing, and establishing a strong brand for Enchanted Leaves. I learned to market my leaf and nature jewelry for weddings, and I was fortunate enough to have my fandom designs picked up by several high profile bloggers. By 2010 it began to really take off, so much so that I quite literally had to quit my day job to fulfill orders and focus on my jewelry business full time. Shortly after, as luck would have it, my husband, Aaron, was laid off from his job, and was able to help out at Enchanted Leaves with me full time! Not only did he quickly become a pro at making jewelry with me, he has proven to be an asset to my business by improving productivity, inventive metalworking ideas, and an overall fresh and creative perspective.
For two years we continued this amazing trend of success, never taking a moment for granted. In 2012, my story gains a bittersweet twist. As Aaron did enjoy being my full time partner, the jewelry business was not his passion and he took a position as a special effects designer at Disney (Imagineer). I still have the pleasure and joy of having Aaron help out with Enchanted Leaves on weeknights and weekends.
Nearing the end of 2014, I am still fortunate that creating art in jewelry designs is not only my passion, but my amazing career.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
I rarely do have a moment that I am not making things for the business! But when I do, I enjoy practicing other forms of art, such as painting and drawing. I also love being with my family and friends, going to Disneyland, and of course spending quality time with my cats and husband.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
Although I always had the utmost support regarding my artistic side from my family growing up, art and the product of my creativity was regarded as a hobby, or something done on the side while I “figured out what to do with my life”. Once I disregarded these stereotypes, I embraced the fact I could indeed turn my passion into a career by completely devoting myself to it.
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
For my business, I am responsible for the branding, photography, marketing, graphics and web aesthetics- something that every strong brand requires. I greatly credit my college professors for providing me with the skills that have heavily shaped my brand into what you see today.
Having a background in fine arts has been crucial to product growth and development. I’ve been able to apply important concepts I have learned such as contrasting colors, balanced elements, complimenting palettes, the use of textures in materials, and composition principles to my jewelry designs.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration for Enchanted Leaves Jewelry clearly comes from nature. I’ve always had a gravitation towards the beauty in nature: Animals, insects, trees, acorns, flowers, plants of all kinds. Creatures that fly, hop, crawl, and sing. I am also deeply inspired by fantasy literature such as Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit and Harry Potter. I just can’t help it. So of course I use my jewelry designs as homage to these fabulous pieces of literature, and other TV shows, music, movies, and culture that I love!
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
We are hoping to expand our electroplated line even further- possibly with pine cones, insects, feathers, gemstones, and other fun and unique materials!
What would be your perfect day off?
My perfect day would start off with sleeping in with my exceptionally fluffy cats for as long as I can, preferably on a cozy rainy day. Then I would spend the rest of the day drinking hot tea and painting. Naturally, the end of the day would involve lots of pizza.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Try to think about what will set your brand apart from others. Will people remember you and your brand tomorrow? Never underestimate the power of amazing, solid, (did I mention branding yet?) branding. If something is not working, that is ok. Step back and change perspective. Change things if you have to, you can even start over. Don’t ever view it as giving up, but rather “fine tuning” your original idea. All forms of art are a process of trial and error.
Who are the makers that inspire you?
Hands down, my husband Aaron is my biggest maker inspiration. He is incredibly innovative, and always has a different way of looking at things and improving them. He became my fresh eye and amazing problem solver. A huge part of me is sad that Walt Disney Imagineering snatched him up, and he is no longer full time with me at Enchanted Leaves! (Sad, but more proud!)
I am also inspired by my sister Sara Yasmin (SweetSirenDesigns.Etsy.com), our dear friends Tyson & Klara of Maiden Voyage Clothing Co. (MaidenVoyageClothing.Etsy.com), the freakishly talented Liselotte Eriksson (LiselotteEriksson.com), and the amazing Jenn Rose (CetoniaDesigns.Etsy.com)