Photo by Megan Boltz
One of my hobbies in high school was making beaded bracelets (mostly with seed beads) nothing complex — or actually aesthetically appealing, now that I think about it — by any means, but it was both a therapeutic and painstaking hobby. I spent my freshman summer nights making bracelets that I then sold to my mom’s coworkers and while the beaded bracelets were fun to make, I soon found that I didn’t have the patience and steady hands (there were literally dozens if not hundreds of seed bead universes on the carpet of my bedroom floor) for it, so I eventually gave up the hobby after the summer was over.
I enjoy discovering artists who work with beads and natural findings, like talented jeweler Brittany Campbell of The Home Ground, who creates some of the dreamiest nature-inspired necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that are perfect to wear for virtually any occasion. I find Brittany’s handiwork fascinating and she makes it look so effortless! I remember when I worked with jewelry pliers and wire cutters that there was much gnashing of teeth involved, something you won’t see in the video below.
Read on to find out more about what led Brittany to jewelry-making, who influenced her work, and what she loves about nature.
Share a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan, a smallish beach town on Michigan’s west coast. I now live in Plymouth, MI with the best husband ever (I’m not biased, I swear).
Growing up in a house in the woods was the best. My sisters and I were always playing outside, discovering frogs, baby snapping turtles (we lived on a creek), new trees to climb, and new muck to get stuck in. I usually brought home treasures from our adventures, including all kinds of stones when we went camping up north. I see my jewelry making as an extension of this collecting habit, each new stone I find being a new treasure. I also hope that my customers see my jewelry in the same light, as a new piece to add to their collection.
My mom has been making jewelry since college and both of my parents always encouraged our creativity. My first jewelry memory is when my mom bought me a bead loom. It was awesome! I had the special graph paper to design my own bead patterns for each cuff. I’m not sure how many bracelets I actually finished, but I know I designed a ton.
I didn’t become seriously interested in jewelry design, however, until my mom opened up her bead store, The Creative Fringe, in downtown Grand Haven. Being her first employee, I had to learn the ropes of jewelry making pretty quickly so I could teach our customers. I loved it. (And still do!)
Share a little bit about your shop.
About halfway through college, I began to realize that I wanted to be a studio artist in some way or another. I wanted to be an independent designer/maker, which soon expanded to include owning a brick & mortar shop. I wanted to spend my days creating and collecting beautiful things.
I had been selling my jewelry at CCS’s annual student/alumni art and craft show every December, but it was time to take the next step. I approached a couple of local shops about carrying my work on consignment and so began my relationship with Haven, in Plymouth, MI. I’ve now been selling my work there for over 3 years! Once I graduated, I dove head-first into the making of the Home Ground. That summer was all about the Home Ground (I even worked on it during our vacation to Hawaii! I was crazy). I officially opened the “doors” to the Home Ground shop on October 14th, 2010 and am so glad I did.
[images above]: Daphne / Aster / Anemone / Echeverria
What’s the story behind the name of your shop?
My style has always been minimal, with a focus on integrity of material. My husband and I spent that entire summer trying to come up with a name. I had pages and pages of brainstorming notes, word associations, everything. With a future brick & mortar in mind, I finally settled on the Home Ground. Not only does it embody the natural, grounded aesthetic of my jewelry, but it’s universal, lending itself nicely to anything I wanted to carry or make.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Minimal, nature-inspired, modern. I like to keep things simple, in order to focus on the stones I use. To me, the stones are the most important part. I love designing the rest of the piece, but every necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings starts with a stone.
My work is very much in tune with the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi. It’s notoriously difficult to explain, but Wikipedia puts it nicely, “Wabi connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness… or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of an object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.” I want my jewelry to remind the wearer of their connection to the earth, of the beauty in natural imperfection and asymmetry.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, I work full-time as an administrative manager and social media marketer for a real estate team in Ann Arbor. That being said, my weekdays are a little crazy! I work 9:30-6, come home, help my husband with dinner, eat and clean up. By then it’s usually already 8pm! I then fight my fatigue trying to get something accomplished for the Home Ground, whether it’s making jewelry orders, writing a new blog post, or researching.
The weekends are much better, as we try to leave one day completely open. I like to wake up around 9, make a cup of coffee, catch up on my favorite places around the internet (including Pinterest!), then get to work. My husband sleeps in on the weekend, so I try to get as much done as I can in the morning.
What’s your most-prized nature-inspired possession?
I have two answers for this question. My first is a collection of prized possessions that actually came from nature: the various shells, stones and coral I’ve gathered from the ocean in Hawaii.
We got engaged and married on the island of Kauai, so Hawaii is a very very meaningful place for me. I love the ocean unendingly, and love that I have treasures to remind me of the smell of salt in the air and of frolicking with sea turtles (that really happened!).
My second possession qualifies as nature-inspired: my wedding ring. When Eric first asked me what kind of engagement ring I wanted (um, major clue!), I was having such a hard time deciding between handmade or antique.
I chose antique. So, for my wedding ring I wanted to find something handmade that was unique but not over-the-top. I found Laura Lombardi via Turtle Love Co. and was in love. This ring is so beautiful and wearing it not only reminds me of what an awesome husband I have, but also of my love for nature.
What are a few things you enjoy about nature?
Being closer to nature helps me to exist in the present moment. When I’m hiking or kayaking or even just sitting outside, I tune in to the smells, sounds and sights around me much more than I do inside or in an urban environment. I remember to look at the details, in the way the bark has grown over time, in the way the leaves rustle with the breeze. I always feel more content and grounded when I’m closer to nature.
I also find infinite inspiration in the incredible variety nature holds. This is the primary reason for my obsession with natural stones. Every piece of aquamarine shares the same chemical makeup, the same geological history, but each stone is completely unique. I love that this makes each of my pieces of jewelry absolutely individual, even within a limited edition.