Laurel Witting creates bespoke pieces of jewelry that pay homage to mourning practices of the past. Each piece unique, she finds influence & sometimes materials in the forgotten corners & dusty boxes of yesterday. Handcrafting modern mourning jewelry using traditional beading patterns to both reflect Victorian design & commemorate the dead. Laurel hopes that her mourning inspired work will aid in bringing death back to a comfortable place in our day to day lives.
– Laurel Witting –
“Different, dark, unique & peculiar, these are all words that have described both art & artist. Laurel has always appreciated the odd and unusual in life and that has translated into her art and photography. Both curious and provocative, her wearable art as well as her small sculpted figures have been inspired by the Victorian Era. The imagination in her work and the attention to detail is mesmerizing, their uniqueness creates a category of their own.”
After living all her life in the Los Angeles area, She currently resides in a small village in the Hudson Valley of Upstate New York. Here Laurel collects antiques, works as a social media manager, jewelry designer, cat wrangler, and obsessive coffee drinker.
To see more of Laurel’s work past and present, please visit laurelwitting.com
I had been surrounding myself with the dead for decades.
Each antique store find, memento from a bygone era or vintage photograph, holds a connection with death. Some objects show their age, visibly tattered or tarnished. Others lay hidden in the bottom of baskets and jars, long forgotten. These once loved relics are discarded, rendered unusable, scrap or junk. Buttons made of black glass, little bags of beads on broken bits of string, all kinds of items have found a home with me.
Finding and keeping objects that connect the living and the dead is at the core of mourning and remembrance, both past and present.
All of my work contains an element of mourning or commemorates death in some way. Sometimes this influence is very subtle, only obvious through style or a specific reference. Other pieces are created with purpose, the intention being recognizable. In my modern mourning pieces, I use beading patterns of the past. Mirroring shapes and sizes of traditional bead work and finding inspiration in mourning fashion from the 1800’s. Though a threading technique was used in beading traditional mourning jewelry, I chose to use wire to hand bead my pieces, reminiscent of the technique used to make rosary. Rosary is often used to pray at funerals or to comfort families in mourning. The stone beads i use in my work are believed to have protective or healing properties, these stones are also believed to aid in the grieving process and bring harmony to us in times of sadness.
The use of animal bones and glass taxidermy eyes in my reliquary pieces honor the lives of animals, acting as a memorial to their memory. It is important to preserve and protect these wonderful creatures. Incorporating these items into my work is much like using the hair of the departed in traditional mourning jewelry. I want them to be remembered and cherished as we would our own species.
Death should not be shunned but embraced, we have lost an integral part of what it means to be mortal and with that our ability to process death, dying and grief. With my mourning jewelry I hope to help bring death back to a comfortable place in our day to day lives.