Spring is here! Wear it, carry it with you. Photos by Awaiting Alice.
If you’re lucky, the best thing about travel can be the renewed vigor for life it inspires when you return home. The designers of Awaiting Alice, a young pair of best friends and roommates, came back to the Southwest after spending last summer together and apart in South America, Denmark, France, East Coast, West Coast, the Rocky Mountains, and of course, Santa Fe. They landed at a small 1920’s central Texas lake house outside Austin, waiting for replies from “real jobs” and letting their newfound inspirations take root. The result is a fantastic new handmade jewelry line that will make you feel like spring has come early; I think I already have about seven pairs of the best, most creative earrings the world has to offer.
The colorful Awaiting Alice collection is a unique, fanciful combination of silk petals, leaves, contemporary and vintage beading, and wire detail. Informed by the inherent imaginative nature of travel as well as practical concerns, its silk petals are lightweight and durable, originally conceptualized as something that can go in the bottom of a purse or suitcase without getting broken. The line specializes in whimsical high-quality earrings, each with an individual name and personality much like the flowers in the memorable Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass scene. A few of my favorites include: the White Duchess, the Red Queen, Bread and Butterfly, and Tiger at Tea.
A little Q & A with the jewelry makers, Jackie McCormick and Laura Chrisco of Santa Fe:
Q. After you both came back from your travels, how did you make time and space to follow through on your recent jolt of creativity?
A. “Awaiting Alice really started last August in the hot as hell Texas summer, in this spit town called McQueeney. At the time, we were both doing the whole apply and interview dance, brainstorming and housesitting in the meantime. The house itself was so inspiring. It was built by Laura's grandma from a Sear's catalog---like the house came in a package from Sears and you built it yourself. There was no a/c, no telephone, no tv, no mailbox, and no internet. The roof was tin with no insulation, and the house was protected by massive pecan trees. It took a while to get used to the sound of gunshot (falling pecans) ricocheting off the roof at night. The doorknobs were glass and had old rusted keyholes, and there were amazing amounts of history in every cupboard and closet: old photographs, diaries, flasks, lace. It was seriously like living in a strange vintage fairy tale, one where the protagonists make things out of silk flower petals and drink a lot of whiskey.”
Do it yourself-ers. From choosing materials to taking and appearing in their own promo photos, these designers do it all. Photos by Awaiting Alice.
Q. How did you get your idea for the company name? It ties in so thoroughly with the materials and what you are doing. Had you recently re-read the Alice in Wonderland book before you started?
A. “Alice is the epitome of curiosity, of girlish wonder, of indignant desire for adventure, and at the same time she is a complete homebody who loves her cat. She represents the creativity of imagination, and instills nostalgia in anyone who has ever been introduced to her story. There is this really great section in Through the Looking Glass where Alice meets up with the flowers and they talk to her as if she were also a flower. The dialog is so clever and still makes us laugh. When we remembered that scene in the book- a mutual favorite- we knew we had a winner. As for awaiting, it felt like that’s what we were doing that summer. ‘Waiting’ has this kind of expectant notion to it, tapping your foot and checking your watch, whereas ‘awaiting’ is just allowing newness to enter your life without trouble. That’s how we got to ‘awaiting.’”
Q. Where do you find your materials?
A. “We go to a lot of bead shows, craft stores, Jamboree wholesale bead events, and this great thing called City Wide Garage Sale in Austin. It’s basically a haven for anyone who likes to sift through amazing stuff. There are tables overflowing with old hankies and aprons, buckets filled with century-old postcards, and tables covered in beads. That’s where we first fell in love with a few vendors and came up with the idea of mixing some really amazing beads with our petals. Sometimes we'll even find vintage costume necklaces and use the beads from those.”
Q. Is there anything about your business that the two of you don’t do yourselves?
A. “We do every single thing: printing business cards in Jackie’s bedroom, cutting them up on the living room floor, shopping, guerrilla marketing, graphic design, photography, writing, selling, making, buying, brainstorming, and soliciting...everything, we're sort of intense. We both have artistic backgrounds, and the color pairings in the jewelry come from years and years of mismatching clothes and just not caring about it. The photographs are a story in and of themselves; we each really dislike being the model. So, whoever is taking the photograph has to set up the stage with music (lots of Kings of Leon, Sidehill Gougers, and on rough photoshoots, Scissor Sisters and Lily Allen have been blasted).”
Welcome to Wonderland. The Bread & Butter and The Red Queen. Photos by Awaiting Alice.
Q. Where have your pieces been ordered so far?
A. “All over the nation, from Washington and California to the Midwest and New York City, Canada, and---our most exotic---Hong Kong. We currently sell in two boutiques in Austin, Millipede and Moxie, and are excited about expanding soon into other states and back in New Mexico. Most of our sales right now come from etsy.com, a website for handmade products.”
The motto: Grassroots couture, fantastical creations, jewelry for the wonderer. Spreading beauty through the non-sensical.
The prices: Affordable, between $18 and $34.
The incessant creators can currently be found on their front porch swing in Austin---lattes, beads, petals or a good book in hand. Curiouser and curiouser.