Sami La Rose, (who uses they/them pronouns) is a sober, self-taught, intuitive jewelry designer and spiritualist living in New York.
A first-year college dropout, Sami decided that they wanted to do something to bring meaning to their life and others. With no degree, Sami has developed their unique wrapping style that includes handmade coils on each wrap. Sami also writes, paints, and does various other forms of mixed media arts. Over time, Sami has developed their unique wrapping style that includes handmade coils on each pendant. No two necklaces look the same, for when they are made Sami follows the pattern/shape of the crystal to form the wrap, and measures different sized coils for each wrap, making each piece entirely unique. Sami dreams to use their art as a way to help others heal and to talk about the shadow aspects of life. Being inspired from a young age by writers and artists like Poe, Plath, Basquiat, and Van Gogh, Sami has always found beauty in the darkness and brings that feeling to light in their art.
Hello Sami. Tell us about yourself, including what you do and how you got there. What drew you to jewelry, and more specifically, birthstones?
Sami: What lead me to become an artist was a series of unforeseen circumstances. After the loss of my best friend at eighteen due to a drug overdose, I decided to get sober. Being sober lead me to ask myself the deeper, more philosophical questions about life. I started going to weekly meditation classes at a crystal shop in my hometown. I always wanted all the jewelry in the shop, but just couldn’t afford it at the time. I decided, why not try making them myself? I bought some raw crystals and on my first try making the perfect wrap. I loved the way jewelry making made me feel, as it really helped me cope with the loss of my best friend, so I just kept doing it. I specifically started using birthstones/crystals for their spiritual practice. As a practicing witch, reiki master, and occult/spiritualist I liked the idea of something I made being able to help someone on an emotional level. Eventually, my friends encouraged me to start selling them, and eight years later I’m still doing what I love.
As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Sami: I’d say my biggest inspiration is nature. The way nature ebbs and flows and is beautiful but at the same time, very dangerous. I also draw a lot of inspiration from magick, the occult, and the shadow aspects of life. One of my favorite quotes is “Turn your pain into gold”, which is also an alchemic reference that I truly love.
You’ve developed a unique wrapping style that includes handmade coils on each wrap. Tell us about your design style. And what makes your collections unique in the industry?
Sami: It’s kinda funny. In the beginning, the coils were a way that I could hide (what I considered) to be imperfections on the wraps. As my skills got better, I considered getting rid of the coils. But, it was brought to my attention that the coils had become kind of a trademark of my work. People would wear my pendants and someone would be able to recognize that it was one of my originals due to the coil(s), so I kept incorporating them into my work. I think what makes it unique in the industry is simply that it is, indeed, unique. I’ve never come across a piece of jewelry at a shop or fair that looked like mine, which makes me really happy.
Could you walk us through your process? How much planning do you do before you jump into a pendant? If you do, what are you trying to solve at each stage of it?
Sami: Not too much planning goes into my jewelry making. Usually, I sit at my workbench, put on some music, and look at the unique shape of the crystal. From there, I figure out the best way to wrap it. I’ll usually have a day of making all the crystal wraps, then a day of making all the coils (which are individually measured to fit each pendant) , and lastly a day of putting them together. After that’s all done, I’ll infuse each pendant with reiki and an intention. I guess there is kind of a process haha, I’m just so used to it now I hardly notice.
Who would you most like to see wearing your jewelry?
Sami: I’d love to see other local or large artists wearing it. I really enjoy making large statement pieces, so if another artist commissioned me to make something like that I would be thrilled. I would love to make something for Lil Was X.
What’s your jewelry philosophy? How do you like to wear your favorite pieces?
Sami: Hmm, my jewelry philosophy is to wear what makes you feel good. I really love the way ancient cultures saw jewelry as a form of spiritual practice as well as other things. For me, I like to wear a lot of statement jewelry, talismans, and heart openers. One of my favorite pieces to wear is my pronoun earrings, which say THEY / THEM on each earring. I love this, as it allows me to freely express who I am as a nonbinary person, and also makes it easier for people to use the correct pronouns for me.
What’s it like to see someone on the street wearing one of your creations?
Sami: Oh it’s such a cool surreal feeling. A particular memory comes to mind. I was once at a club in New Paltz my friends were playing at, and a total stranger came up to me. They were full of excitement, and they were like “OMG, YOUR SAMI FROM CRYSTAL GARDEN CREATIONS !!” and proceeded to show me a pendant of mine they were wearing. It was such a cool experience, I really love seeing people wearing my creations.
What is your favorite piece you’ve ever created – and what made it so special?
Sami: Hmm, it’s a tie between my first ever piece and a double pendant I made. My first ever pendant I’ve never been able to re-replicate and I don’t even understand how I made such an intricate piece of my first try. The other is a double wrap (two crystals) I made for a commission. I had never made something like this before, and since it was for a friend I gave it a shot and fell IN LOVE with how it came out. I almost didn’t want to give it to them, lol.
You are also a writer, painter, and mixed media artist. Tell us about your day in the studio, do you listen to music, or do you have any other rituals to get “into the zone”?
Sami: I think all my art forms have different “zones” When I paint, I usually have music on, and since I’m a messy abstract artist, I have a set of clothes I wear just for painting since most of the time I’m throwing paint with my hands. Since my carpet is covered in paint, sometimes I’ll put a canvas face down and actually use my carpet as a tool for texture. When it comes to photos and writing, those are both one of the same. I like to be alone and it a quiet place for either of them. For me, I see art as the ritual itself, but if they all have one common factor, it’s the feeling of stillness / inner peace that comes over me when I’m making art. My studio is also in my house which is nice because it’s always close by and kind of incorporated into my daily practice.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Sami: My art has evolved over the years by really finding my style and purpose with my art. And also by exploring and finding new mediums. I’m not good at every medium I use, and I actually really like that. It allows room for and error and growth instead of total seriousness. I’m definitely more comfortable and confident in my craft now, at 26, than when I first started at 18.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Sami: Oh absolutely, my biggest goal with my art is to help others heal. Through the eight years, I’ve been doing this, I’ve received countless thank you messages on how my jewelry has helped the person with whatever they were looking for. Just the other day I got a phone call from a friend, crying tears of joy because everything had fallen into place for her after she received my pendant. I believe in magick, so getting feedback like this truly makes me happy, and whether or not it’s a placebo effect, my art is still helping someone. That’s all I’ve ever wanted as an artist, is to help others feel less alone through my art, as artists I love/admire have done for me.