Nature in Her Hands, Art You Can Wear: Artist Maya Rose Weiss

Hi Maya Rose Weiss. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your amazing jewelry. Can you tell me a little about how you got started creating such unusual, and one of a kind pieces of wearable art? 

I was born in New York State, and began experimenting with weaving, knitting, crocheting and braiding, as soon as I could figure out how to guide my fingers to create forms from fibers and natural materials. I have always been captivated by the natural world and deeply inspired by the alchemy of fibers, intention and the human hand. While studying jewelry design at Pratt Institute in NYC, I began to realize I was drawn to those traditions handed down through the matrilineal line, over the course of generations. I seek to expose the reverence and mystery embedded in hand-made, intuitive forms woven around empty space.

I know you are new to Boulder. Why did you move to town?

I moved to Boulder because I felt called by the mountains and the sky and people. I had been living in the intense, stimulating environment of Brooklyn. Although I loved NYC, I have always felt a deep connection to nature, and I have always felt inspired creatively when I have had the opportunity to be outside. Every day, the sky is a unique canvas of colors and pattern. Nature reminds me to let go of narrow agendas, and I always feel somehow supported by the larger scope of the landscape. Of course, Boulder adds tons of sunlight into the mix as well. I didn’t quite anticipate how friendly everyone seems to be in Boulder. I was used to rather brusque and gritty, straight-forward New Yorkers. (But I still miss them quite a bit.)

Can you talk a bit about your connection to your Judaism? 

I grew up in a secular Jewish family, and sort of didn’t take the time to think much about my Jewish identity. But as I got older I began to become more curious about Judaism and my connection to it. When I create jewelry I tend to incorporate weaving techniques that have been handed down from mother to daughter through the generations. I have often wondered about how the Jewish culture was perhaps part of these artistic and practical activities. I don’t have the answers. Here in Boulder it seems easier to connect with other Jewish people somehow, and I feel excited to discover more about Jewish life as I live and create in this incredible city. I feel welcomed into it.

Your work is so dramatic, and singular. How do you come up with such unusual designs?

I find much of my inspiration while hiking or walking outside.  Finding a material to work with is not just research.  I also have to touch, feel and weave with the material, before I know if it is right for a particular piece.  I work a lot with waxed linen, which is a very moody material depending on the weather.  Sometimes when it is cold, it is trickier to weave.  I also use merino wool which seems easier to weave and more pliable.  Every time I weave, it is a totally new experience.  The fibers move differently according to the climate, the time, my mood and a complex matrix of interconnectivity that begins when those fibers were born as seeds, plants or lamb’s wool.  I have to always be listening closely and really paying attention.  Sometimes I feel as if the fibers are trying to teach me how to configure them.

Your jewelry is modern but in some ways also has a timeless feel. What is your intent?

I want the wearer to feel comfortable, empowered, and loved. In this day and age, a lot of ancient crafts and ideologies are being lost and there is something really special about using a technology (weaving) that has been around for thousands of years.

Can you talk a bit about your creative process?

When I am working and weaving with fibers, I go into a meditative state and sometimes feel as if the fibers are telling me how to craft the piece.  I feel as if I am in collaboration with the materials and the plants that they are derived from. Slowly creating a process with time and the human hand allows for pieces that a machine could never make. Each piece is completely unique and there will never be another exactly like it. (Just like human beings!) Sometimes when I think I have made a mistake while weaving, it really isn’t a mistake, it’s a new exciting way to create. Also, slowing down and paying attention to the present moment allows for the recognition of deep spaciousness and gratitude. These are qualities that are often overlooked in this fast-paced world, but are an integral part of my creative process.

How can people find your work? Are you selling it anywhere locally in Boulder, and what’s next for you and your jewelry making career? 

I always try to live in the moment, but that doesn’t exclude preparing for some very exciting shows to come in the future.  I am excited to allow my work to evolve and lead me towards patterns, materials and forms that I haven’t imagined yet. At the moment I am selling my work at a few stores in New York.  I am also preparing for the Smithsonian Craft and Design show in DC.  I am always posting on my website and Instagram.  I find social media to be an integral part of my work these days.  It is one of the ways I sell my work.  The name of my company is called Yayaand.  My instagram is @yayaandjewelry and my website is www.yayaand.com.

Thanks so much for speaking to me Maya Rose, and all the best with your work. Once more, how can people reach you if they are interested in learning more your amazing jewelry? 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Again, my instagram is @yayaandjewelry and my website is www.yayaand.co

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