Watch our video of the Ex Voto Story; HERE.
Ex Voto Vintage: Inspirations and Blessings
I grew up surrounded by art. My family home was a revolving art gallery of my father’s paintings and my mother’s hand-woven textiles. I was taught to see the beauty of the Creator in all things and, on those lazy Southern summer afternoons, to “go do something creative.” My parents were always encouraging my sister and me to draw our own pictures. Judging from their reactions, you would’ve thought coloring books were from the Devil himself. This type of encouragement can, at times, be dangerous. As a three-year-old I took my father’s Design markers (which are, of course, indelible) and I drew my own pictures down the side of his car. Both sides of his car. My mother knew he would be angry and we waited for him to come home. But he was not angry. Instead he called my drawings, “sport stripe.” He said the black lines paired perfectly with the remnants of black cord tied to the luggage rack which he used to transport his large paintings.
My inspirations, now and as a youngster, are often found in things from the past. The house in which I was raised was built in the 1920’s and is only a few blocks from the Montgomery home of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The wavy, depression glass window panes and the old treasures we would find in the garden fueled our young imaginations. Time spent in the antique shop owned by my best friend’s mother continued to developed my eye for antiques and the deep appreciation for that warm patina that comes only from time. An architecture student, turned educator, turned jewelry designer I continued creating. Painting in watercolors, hand sewing for my children when they were young, always needing to keep my hands busy.
In 2007 my youngest child passed away from an inoperable brain tumor at the age of three. My hands needed busyness to bring solace. I began layering paints and mixing different media, such as vintage jewelry and brass pieces, and this became my creative outlet. The collages brought focus, creating one from many. Changing the format became healing. This “pushing it around,” as my father would say, led to revelation; my collages looked more like jewelry. I began to thread some of the fragments I found onto chain for myself. Vintage pendants, keys, medals and lockets transformed into wearable collages. Lockets hold special meaning for me. When I was born, my father’s mentor gave me a beautiful locket. In the box was a hand-written blessing, “May your life be as beautiful as you are.” I understand now that life is not always easy, but it can be beautiful. And so Ex Voto, which means an offering or testament of gratitude, was born. As friends, and a few strangers, complimented me on these pieces I was creating, my creative outlet became a business. My little studio in my home could no longer contain the growing demand as all pieces are handmade, and so I opened our first studio and showroom in 2011. An ExVoto is a hand-made testament of gratitude for a broken life made new again and in many ways ExVoto jewelry shares this sentiment as vintage pieces which some may view as past their prime are made beautiful again and given a new life.
When I travel I am always searching for treasures I can bring back to the studio to create these one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry pieces. I work with artisans all over the US as we cast from the original antiques I find for our limited edition pieces. Each Ex Voto piece is handmade in the USA and a portion of each sale is given to The Cure Starts Now Foundation for pediatric brain cancer research. The Couture to Cure collection is a special collection made from exceptional antique pieces; all proceeds from the sale of the Couture to Cure collection go to The Cure Starts Now Foundation. Women find something familiar and personal in Ex Voto. Mothers and their daughters can both wear the collections. Ex Voto is based on classical design, yet it is in no way predictable. It is vintage patina expressed in a way that is current and fresh. Each piece of Ex Voto is as individual as the woman who wears it, and when she sees the one for her, she is smitten. She feels as if she has found a treasure.
My design-patented toggle closure allows pieces within the collection to connect together. A bracelet becomes an extender for a necklace or two necklaces connect together or wrap. I love enabling the wearer to explore her own creativity with the way she wears ExVoto. Today I live and have my studio in Alabama, and while I am inspired each time I travel, I believe my roots in the South give my work a sense of grace, and classic timelessness that is attractive to women all over the world.