An Ode to Nature



romanescu, a relative of cauliflower/broccoli

     I have to say, I think nature does it best.  The crazy, colorful, complex creations that spring up around us are better than anything I could create.  My entire motivation in art-making is to attempt to capture some of that mysterious beauty, and make it wearable.  I think I’ll spend the rest of my life trying, (and failing, really).  But I try.  And it’s intriguing to try, and to discover new imagery, new vistas, that seem like they should, and should always have been, worn.

      molten glassIn creating, I like keeping close to the Earth, or as close to it as I can.  I love thinking about the origins of glass; inert sand and base elements fired till molten, transforming into delicate transparency, as ancient as we are, really.  Who figured it out first?  Or mastered the art of it, somehow knowing how to handle a material no one had ever witnessed before.   It had to be inherently frightening, and dangerous.  I strive to create something new like that, an innovation, that will be forever mysterious and fascinating.

    I saw mace once, the raw, sheathed form of nutmeg.  I thought it was incredibly beautiful, and how sad, that we only value the brown, ground spice from underneath, and most of us never get to see it in its natural form.  What an incredible piece of jewelry it would make!  When I went to Tanzania in 2010, I was so excited to go to a spice farm on the island of Zanzibar, and see where all of those fragrant/flavorful seasonings come from.  We saw vanilla orchids and pepper vines, green and climbing upon the Zanzibar apple and cinnamon trees. 

mace at Mr. Abeid's spice farm

mace at Mr. Abeid's spice farm

I smelled the root of the cinnamon tree, identical to the scent of Vicks Vapo-Rub.  I squashed turmeric roots and curry leaves between my fingers leaving orange hues and spicy scents behind.  And then, Mr. Abeid, of the spice farm’s title, held out a yellow bulb, spotted brown and unassuming, and sliced it in half to expose the scarlet mace beneath.  It was my first site of it, fresh, and I was enamored.  I couldn’t take Mr. Abeid’s fresh stock home, but happily purchased a pack of his dried mace to squirrel away in my suitcase.

nutmeg necklace brass

Nutmeg Pod Necklace, Brass

   Back in the states, I was at a bit of a loss as to how to handle the pods, preserve their color, hang them or showcase them to their fullest.  I decided they were so beautiful on their own, I would just shellac them, and drill them to affix a beautiful bail, and hang them from a simple chain.  The finished necklaces became some of my favorite pieces, attached to a wonderful memory of a far-off adventure.

  I hope to go on more adventures, acquire more materials that bring the energy of their origins with them.  Create more work, and send more out to you, with the hope that that energy carries through.

Nutmeg pod necklace

Nutmeg Pod Necklace


Woo hoo!

I’m excited to announce that Hieropice now accepts direct payments via debit/credit cards on our etsy site,  So, if you’re Paypal averse, you can purchase without it!  You can still use Paypal, if you prefer.  We want to make sure you have as many options as you possibly can!

Erm, I Don’t Really Wear Big Earrings…

   Mini periwinkle maasai beaded earrings on white

     In making the Maasai beaded pieces for Hieropice, I’ve really wanted to preserve the traditional feel of the jewelry, and honor its origins.  In viewing the Maasai beaded jewelry/baskets/etc. in Tanzania, I was most struck by the vibrant colors the artisans employed.  Lost of bright blue, red, yellow and green.  And all of the jewelry was what Americans might deem large or oversized, there wasn’t a stud-earring in sight!  So, when I came back to the States and began making Maasai beaded pieces for Hieropice, though I made them my own by using semiprecious stones, faceted rondels, rocaille beads and the like, I’ve tried to maintain that bold, vivid look inherent in the African pieces.maasai beaded coasters

But, Hieropice’s jewelry is primarily marketed in the Western world, and I’ve received/considered your feedback.  Many Western women don’t wear large pieces (earrings/pendants), and I definitely don’t want to leave you guys out!  So I’ve made a pair, with more to follow, that folks who prefer smaller pieces can wear.  Our new Itty Bitty Periwinkle Maasai Beaded Earrings measure less than 2 cms in diameter, and are very light on the ear.  So no worries about getting overwhelmed by your jewelry!  The larger Maasai pieces will still be the center-point of our Maasai Beaded line, but check in soon for more Itty Bitty pieces!

With lurve, as always,


Mini periwinkle maasai beaded earrings

And…. There’s More!

Blue shard and gold Maasai Beaded Necklace

Keeping the new listings coming!  We wanted to provide a necklace to match our Cobalt and Gold Maasai Beaded Earrings, Flower Shape, and so, introducing Hieropice’s Azure Chip and Gold Maasai Beaded Necklace!

We also want to make sure you can see all of our wares super-clearly, so we’re rolling out some new item photos on the website, that are nice and bright, like the one below!Lost world terrarium necklace heartdrop

New Listing!

Cobalt and gold maasai beaded earrings flower shape

Really excited to announce that we’ve put up a new listing on our Etsy site!  I love cobalt blue, particularly the way it contrasts with gold.  Makes me think of Ancient Egypt/Rome, nubian princesses and Roman godesses….  The combination just looks so luxurious…  Yum…  So, introducing our new Cobalt and Gold Maasai Beaded Earrings, Flower Shape!

Terraria (in Miniature)

Candy jar terrarium with mushroom

Candy jar terrarium with mushroom

I posted a while back about Hieropice’s Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces, and how they’re madeI love hearing about how artists come up with their concepts, and wanted to share what the inspiration behind the Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces was.

I’ve been fascinated with plants and flowers (and sometimes, bugs!) for many years; when I was 5, I discovered a compelling flower in the woods during a class trip, plucked it and presented it to my teacher, whose eyes welled-up as she explained it was an endangered ladyslipper orchid.

pink ladyslipper orchid

Pink ladyslipper orchid

Which I’d just killed, by picking it.  Woops!  I found fascinating plants irresistible even then, and over the years, I studied a lot of biology, medicinal plants, did a lot of foraging, lots of reading and research, in my quest to learn all there was to know about plants.

    A couple of years ago, a friend forwarded me a NY Times slideshow called The Art and Craft of Terrariums.  It was full of whimsical images of terraria, many with miniatures figures and vignettes inside, in a vibrant array of colors.  I was instantly captivated.  At the time, I worked in a dreary, gray office, with no windows.  The possibility of bringing a shot of life and color into my cavern-like space was really exciting.  I had to try to make one!

Dara's first terrarium

My first terrarium!

My first attempts ended somewhat abyssmally.  I didn’t fully understand the complexities of semi-closed ecosystems, and had trouble creating a good balance. Those terraria have long dried-out, rotted, molded, been tossed in the wastebin.  I did more research, read what experts had to say about maintaining the health of plants, and experimented.  I scoured thrift shops for unusual glass vessels, and greenhouses for plants in complementary colors.  My apartment filled up quickly, with all manor of candy-jar, water pitcher and reclaimed-glass-lantern terraria.  I battled with condensation, bugs, and die-off, but in time, created some beautiful things, that brought charm and light into my home.  I began offering classes on how to make terraria for adults at schools around Boston, and brought the terraria I could carry to craft shows to sell.

Lantern Terrarium

More recent terrarium, made from a converted glass lantern

Then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if you could actually WEAR one?  And I had a dilemma… How to create something that captured the charm of the life-size terraria, but took the fact that we all have lives into consideration.  I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to water, dead-head, re-plant, and monitor the health of their jewelry; the pieces would have to require no maintenance, but still contain life.

  Again, I started experimenting, scouting miniature glass vessels, putting little bits of the materials I used for the life-size terraria inside, working with contrasting textures and colors.  Custom Lost World Necklace for Sabine close-up

I added a bit of whimsy, creating itty-bitty mushrooms and succulent plants out of polymer clay, and “planting” them in the mini vials, tucking bits of moss around them.  I began offering the necklaces on Etsy.  When Spring approached, I thought it’d be wonderful to incorporate some flowers, which turned out to be a major challenge to make!  I changed elements of the necklaces over time, striving to make them weather the bumps and jolts of the shipping process better.   Etsy customers began to engage in the making process, requesting fantastic custom creations, featuring shades of green, or even mini-cacti and a leather cord (to make it more masculine!).  Their participation has made the process even more fun!  I love making these pieces, and look forward to the many incarnations they’ll develop into over time.  Thanks for being a part of the process!


Dara (Hieropice)

Lost World mini terrarium necklace red flower red mushroom close-up2