How I Used My Wedding as an Excuse to Create the Statement Earrings of My Dreams

Annie Johnston

Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to be expository about my work. To write about it, and in doing so, to bring a little light and joy through creativity, sharing my processes, rituals, and inspirations that form the story behind each piece. I thought I’d start by sharing a little bit about the process of creating my favorite earrings I’ve made to date.

photo of handmade silver anthurium flower earrings pointing in different directions, displayed laying flat in the palm of a hand with green plant leaves in the background

The process of making the earrings for my wedding really brought me back to the roots of my jewelry practice and the way I move through a creative idea from inspiration to execution. I find that the best jewelry ideas are those that have a real purpose behind them and strong vision, not only for the earrings themselves, but for the look as a whole, who is wearing them where, and most importantly, what emotions they will bring out when they are worn.

I grew up making jewelry for myself and my friends, something I have always absolutely loved to do. From the end of elementary school all through high school and then on into adulthood, making new jewelry seasonally became a ritual way for my bff and I to reinvent ourselves. We would start with a vision of the energy that we wanted to project, almost like setting an intention for the upcoming season, and then manifest the whole vibe from there. Jewelry was always a huge part of that, and looking back, you can see that the core of most of those visions can be distilled down into simply the jewelry.

A photo of the author as a child dressed in overalls and a pink hat sitting with her brown bear friend on a grey couch, both wearing handmade beaded pastel necklaces

My approach to making these earrings brought me right back to this ritual, instead of a reinvention, I wanted the outfit to represent all parts of me as I am in the present. I created a mood board for the energy I wanted to feel – confident, proud, beautiful and really just myself to the core. Of course the wedding is about more than just me, and something bigger than myself, but I really wanted to feel grounded in my body while I moved through this transitional ceremony. I wrote down the words, “I want my outfits to be an ode to all parts of me”, setting my intention for the project.

Photo of author's moodboard consisting of a vintage Gunne Sax advertisement, vintage Gunne Sax dress, red heart-shaped hot tub, two red anthurium flowers, red gucci slingback heels, a glass sculpture, silver ripple waves, a satin ivory bow a photo of cher, and 1980s avant guarde artwork

I knew I wanted a statement earring that would be for the wedding looks of course, but that would then continue to be something I would reach for when I wanted to wear a really powerful statement piece, especially a piece that would then be embedded with such beautiful memories. Something modern and sculptural, to simultaneously compliment and contrast the romantic, lacy, vibes of my vintage Gunne Sax dress.

To be honest, I’ve been crazy about the shape of the anthurium flower for a while now, and was dying to incorporate them into my work. I guess I had kind of been dabbling in it with bold, sculptural earrings and trying to incorporate red into as many pieces as possible not quite verbatim, but circling the realm for sure. I think we can all admit that red is quite compelling right now.

The other component of this story is that technically speaking, I wanted to use this piece as an opportunity to work with some newly learned wax working skills. This was a humbling experience as things didn’t quite go as planned. I initially planned to create the entirety of each earring first in wax, but learned that the discrepancy between the thickness of the main leaf piece and the center would make it nearly impossible. So I moved onto plan b.

Photo of the anthurium earrings in their first wax form

Photo of author's jewelry bench with the anthurium flowers in progress, and covered shapes in both metal and wax, and tools strewn about

Photo of the dingy silver pieces of the anthurium earrings being supported by chunks of charcoal and solderite, getting ready to be soldered

I ended up pulling off the center parts, and casting those separately. After getting the castings back, the process of creating the earrings was similar to most of my current work – meticulously sawing, filing, shaping and soldering sheet metal to create the final pieces. I was so excited to execute these entirely with the new techniques I’ve been learning, but in the end it was a balance of old and new. I love this because it really just feels like a commentary on my creative path forward.

Creating these earrings that I am so so proud of, has set me on a new creative trajectory both technically and emotionally in my jewelry practice. In doing so, I unlocked a new creative part of myself, as the process brought me right back to the very depths of why I make jewelry, and why it is such a meaningful creative expression for me – it is something I truly do out of love. An integral part to that is not compromising on my vision, and the power that comes with really seeing a special creative project through. I can’t wait to see what’s next on this beautiful journey.