Have you ever considered why you garden? I doubt you’re growing vegetables to save money, and you probably aren’t cultivating an indoor jungle just because it’s good for air quality. If there’s something more pulling us into the garden, what is it?
Us plant enthusiasts can literally be found on the edge of our seats watching a new leaf emerge and I believe that’s because there’s something that all gardeners share: a desire to connect with nature. We want to understand plants and to participate in the primordial process of growth that underpins all life – to interact with the essence of nature that is creation, that is growth, that is a seed of potential becoming.
If you’re of the same mind, then I think you’re going to love what follows – I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Barazzuol, the creative energy and beautiful soul behind Love Morning Moon jewellery. She is an artisan who understands the joy and sustenance of connecting to nature at a deep and intuitive level and crafts nature inspired jewellery to help us deepen this connection and find empowerment within it.
I fell in love with her jewellery back in 2016 when I was visiting Vancouver, B.C., and the linden leaf necklace I picked out still brings me so much strength and joy.
Her stories, jewellery and perspectives are a feast for the eyes and soul. Please enjoy!
Why did you start making jewellery?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve made things. I see something that’s beautiful and it’s not enough for me to just own it, I actually have to make it.
I immediately feel a deep urge well up in me to create something beautiful with my own hands, and heart — almost as if to answer the beauty I just saw “out there” with my own something beautiful from “in here” (my heart).
And I remember when I was fifteen or sixteen one of my first boyfriends complimented me on my jewellery and I noticed at the time that it meant more to me than a comment like, “you’re beautiful”. He saw that I had an eye for beauty and he loved [it].
Jewellery is just something that brings me so much joy. It’s what I look to when I have a hard day, like “I know I need that leaf ring today. It always makes me feel a certain way”. So it was very natural for me to want to create that experience for other people.
What inspired you to make jewellery from nature?
When I was first making jewellery there were a lot of hammered circles and it was very basic – there was nothing natural or organic about it. But [I had] this really intense desire to make something out of cedar.
The textures [of nature] are what drew me in, but then [I realized] that I can actually hear messages from nature. So I can hear messages from linden, salal and cedar. And not with words, it’s not so direct… it’s like a knowing.
For a long time, I would Google the symbolism of each piece. And one day I thought, “that’s not what cedar’s about,” and I noticed that I was giving up what I knew in favor of what someone else was telling me about my experience with reality.
And my experience was that actually cedar was speaking to me. It didn’t make any sense. Somebody else has more authority than me. Who am I?
But then my messages from these things just became so clear. So I started writing them down, and I started sharing them slowly at the market.
[Nature] has messages to give, strength to offer, and these things actually really want to get onto the bodies of people and help them. I’m kind of an intermediary between the natural world and these objects that have gifts to offer — I’m the person who makes the jewellery and gets them out to people.
How do you take a leaf or a shell and turn it into such intricate and realistic jewellery?
I spent six years studying with large-scale sculptors – there’s one lady who does castings of whole trees! And I kind of cobbled together this technique.
I’m basically making fossils out of textures from nature. The way that a fossil would have been formed in the earth, I’m recreating that in the studio with clay and a natural object.
Then I fire them in the kiln and I have this texture that I can play with so I’ll pour wax in it and pull it out and… like with your piece, a linden leaf, when you pluck it from a tree it’s as thin as tissue paper. So behind the scenes – because I don’t want to take away from the perfection of the linden – I will add to it so that it has this substantial touchstone quality.
That piece in particular, I find that when I’m wearing mine I’ll rub my thumb on the back of it and it’s like a worry stone. And so it’s me collaborating with nature to make them into wearable things, because not all nature is wearable right off of the vine.
It’s not easy but I have this rhythm going. I have a sea urchin – these are also eggshell thin and it’s heartbreaking if you find a full one on the beach and you break it. They are very similar [to linden] and I have to sort of create some behind-the-scenes magic to help them be heirlooms, like a fossil that outlives us.
So each piece of jewellery was once a real piece of nature -- how do you pick your muses?
They come from all over the place. Some of them are gifts. A lot of them are things that I find myself.
I have a little salal leaf that I can remember the moment of finding it like it was yesterday even though it was probably eight years ago. It was in West Vancouver in a park called Lighthouse Park and it was like there was like a light shining down on this one leaf like, “aaahhhhh!” and it really wanted my attention.
I saw it from probably 150 feet away. And I kept my eye on it – and it was in the forest, it wasn’t on the trail – and I walked over the roots and the rocks and I got to it.
And I always ask the tree — energetically — if it’s okay to take it. Because not all things want to be removed from where they are. And it was like, “Yes! Yes! Please make me into jewellery”. It was just such a joyful, happy experience and it was so entertaining and fun!
It’s very serendipitous because you can’t force yourself to find anything. I looked for four years, combing every beach I ever went to for the perfect tiny little sea urchin, because I wanted sea urchin earrings. And I didn’t find it…
And then when [I was on a beach with] my son [who] was two — he was so little I didn’t know how he knew — but he turned around and said, “here mama,” and handed me the most perfect sea urchin (the size of the pad of your fingertip). Now I have the sea urchin earrings!
Why do you feel connecting to nature is so important?
Love that question. That’s my favorite question ever.
When I look around at the world, and humanity — from my family to larger systems like healthcare systems or government — I can’t help but notice that we seem to be glitching.
And when I really sit down with it, what comes up for me over and over again is: we’ve separated ourselves from the system that we come from.
We came from [earth and] we go back to it. Every single thing does this. And somehow, our little consciousness has told itself that we’ve come from somewhere else – we’re separate – and because of that illusion we have basically disconnected from our operating system.
We don’t know how to use plants medicinally, we don’t know how to talk to plants, we don’t know how to access our intuition, or feel our feelings. We’re taught that those things are airy-fairy or not productive or useful so – to be good and loved and accepted – we kind of disown those parts of ourselves.
But they’re us. That is us. We’re not separate from any of those things.
This jewellery reconnects people with our operating systems. It reminds us…
Like when you pick up a sea urchin or a leaf and you give yourself a minute, and you really just look at it, there’s something that’s happening – you recognize the patterns of it on the cellular level.
There’s something in you that looks at this and knows: “I’m from that. I’m the same. The wisdom that told all my cells to duplicate and grow an arm and then grow a leg – that blueprint is the same as the blueprint that’s in the leaf”.
That source is the same place, and when you can really be with something and have it on your body, there’s an energetic reminder that continues and that fosters that sense of growth.
The very first jewellery was things from nature. We were adorning ourselves with seashells because we were bringing to life and celebrating our connection with who we are and the system that we live in. [This is] an ode to that. This is my small way of offering people a road back to that celebration and that feeling of resonance with where you come from, with what you really are.
My linden leaf necklace has been an empowering reminder to follow my heart, and my interactions with you — though brief — have been very meaningful to me.
What feedback have you received from others about their experience of your jewellery?
That’s wonderful! There are so many products out there that are just things, but [this jewellery] is really supposed to remind you of important messages that maybe you don’t always remember for yourself, you know?
I’ve gotten to know a lot of the customers who have purchased my pieces over the years and many of them stay in touch with me and tell me how the pieces affect them.
One thing I hear a lot is, “I’m not really a big jewellery wearer so I’m surprised to find myself wearing this jewellery four years later and I haven’t taken it off”.
[The jewellery goes] out with their own symbolism but they interact with their new person and they create their own meaning, and they come to life in that way.
People have worn them to their weddings, commemorated big life events with them… they just become a piece of people’s hearts and their journey.
To know that something I’ve been a part of making helps somebody in some way or gives somebody some strength or is a touchstone or an important thing in their life is — to me that feels like the capital “P” Purpose.
We’ve talked a lot about your metal jewellery, but you also do amazing work with stone. Tell us about your Nurtured series.
I love working with stones because I feel like stones also have this incredible life-force because they grow – like crystals actually grow – so they’re not inert, but there is an aliveness to them that has always fascinated me.
I have a huge chunk of tourmaline at home that if I’m ever really stressed out I just put it on my chest and it just brings me right back down to earth, and my son will even say, “I’m just going to sit with the tourmaline for a minute”. It’s just very grounding.
So they have this energetic sort of something (I don’t really know). So I love incorporating them into the jewellery too. But they’re just one-of-a-kind pieces. I don’t have molds for any of those.
Last year on a stone buying trip, I handled every single one of those stones. I spend days just picking and finding the ones I want to work with. So that collection is really, really special.
I work with pebbles too. I do a series every summer — called pebble bellies — where I take a little pebble [from a beach up on the central coast] and I encase it in metal. And it’s so cool because it’s from this beach where the orca whales rub their bellies!
When we’re looking to connect more authentically with nature, it’s important that we’re doing so in a way that supports people and planet. You’ve taken so many steps to achieve that in your business: you plant a tree for every piece of jewellery sold, your workspace has a 2000sqft rooftop garden and you’re powered by green energy. Tell us a bit more about your ethos of thrivability for all living things on Earth.
My relationship with nature is so sincere and so woven through who I am that it isn’t a thing where I have to make a plan and then go “how are we going to fit nature into this”? We just always look for solutions that feel right. If it doesn’t feel right in my gut then I don’t even consider it.
So solar panels and all that stuff — they’re things that happen because they need to happen. It’s not an afterthought.
One of the things we did here was to remove plastic. Every time you order a set of  chains they all come in individual plastic bags. So we worked with suppliers and we asked for one plastic bag [for all of them] and to tie them together with a twist tie.
So rather than this being 500 bags, it’s one bag. And it’s a bag that we reuse here.
And there is a chemical that is used for cleaning oxidation off silver, and in the traditional jewellery world it’s sulphuric acid which is really toxic.
But a solution that will work exactly the same is citric acid (which people use for pickling) and then you neutralize it with baking soda and you can put it down the drain.
What’s calling out to you these days?
I wanted to make [ferns] for years and for whatever reason they just weren’t coming to life on my schedule, and then really recently finished the ferns that I knew needed to go out to the world in a big way.
For me, when I talk to ferns they’re about this ancient primordial wisdom that exists in all of us that’s unfurling all the time but also meeting us where we are in current, modern day life.
Because they are this ancient species that have been around since the beginning and they’re still here and still doing the same thing, I think they can remind us of what is in us that is still here doing the same thing that it’s been doing for millions of years.
And they happen to be so beautiful! When I wear them I just feel beautiful.
Pretty cool, huh?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this special interview with Kate and her stunningly beautiful jewellery.
There are these special people who come into our lives, and it may be the briefest of interactions but that person gives us a shot of medicine – the outstretched hand we needed to lift us up, the offhand comment that sparks a deep realization, or a nod and gentle smile that says ‘I get you’ and reminds us we aren’t so alone with our problems.
Kate is one of those people for me, as she is to so many others who chanced upon her nature-inspired jewellery table at the Granville Island market, or fatefully found her sincere messages and art online. I hope it feels the same for you.
You can continue to follow the evolution of her art on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. And you can browse her jewellery collections online at lovemorningmoon.com.
And if you find something you fancy, Kate’s has a gift for you! She’s offering our gardenstead community an exclusive 20 percent discount on anything in her store (use the code GARDENLOVE20 to claim the discount).