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The art of turning memories into jewelry

Grassroots Tehachapi

 

October 27, 2018

Photo provided

This is one of the finished necklaces, seen in the sketch to the left.

As she opens her notebook, filled with past, present and future projects, Alejandra Whittier begins to sketch a beautiful and unique ring.

I was immediately envious of her talent and artistic eye that can create a new jewelry concept within seconds. Alejandra was born in Mexico, and has lived in Tehachapi for 12 years. In college, she studied interior design and has worked with companies that specialized in furniture and industrial design. But she always had an interest in learning how to make jewelry. With some tutoring from a former boss, how-to books and plenty of trial runs, Alejandra now has her own jewelry line.

"I had worked with metals, worked on big scale projects and furniture and I knew how to weld things," she said. "Then to finally learn how to make jewelry, I began buying lots of books. It was a lot of experimenting and willingness to try new things."

I met Alejandra at her jewelry booth during Tehachapi's Apple Festival. Her line of jewelry is very unique and her passion for her work is inspiring and contagious.

I have always wanted the jewelry I wear to be more than just a beautiful accessory. I want it to have meaning, or a story behind its beauty. Alejandra said many of the custom pieces she has worked on have been family heirlooms in need of modifications, repairs and sometimes a new artistic eye. She has turned a father's wedding band into earrings for his daughter to wear after his passing and has found beautiful ways to bring new life to old family gems. She has even incorporated the ashes of loved ones into jewelry.

"The ashes piece was very special ... I made three pendants for three girls who lost their mom to cancer. Each piece was different and each girl told me what they wanted," Alejandra said. "It was so rewarding to know that they will be able to have a piece of their mom, symbolically, with them all the time, and I feel honored they chose me to create that."

While it is easy to see Alejandra's passion for design and creating beautiful pieces for her clients, the ashes project truly touched her.

"I think this [was] one of the most emotional pieces I've done. The pain they were feeling was almost channelled to create the beautiful necklaces, and transformed them into something they could wear everyday," she said.

Another one of her favorite custom pieces was a necklace made from rough garnets and copper.

Julianna Crisalli

Every piece begins as lines in a notebook.

"One girl brought [the garnet and copper] to me and asked me to make a necklace for her mom. Her dad had passed away and he dug up those garnets," she said. "When the necklace was ready, the mom and girl came to my house and she presented the necklace to her mom as a surprise. It was definitely a teary eye moment and super special [because of] the meaning behind it."

The way Alejandra turns memories into jewelry is truly beautiful and I can't wait to see more of her designs.

Check out her jewelry online at http://www.alejandrawhittier.com and visit her booth at the upcoming Bear Valley Holiday Bazaar, at the Whiting Center.

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at jcrisalli@gmail.com.

See you next time and be kind to one another!

 
 

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