Portraits, Vol 4: Laura Storgaard Pedersen
PORTRAITS, VOL 4
LAURA STORGAARD PEDERSEN
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker
Laura Storgaard Pedersen is the creative genius behind one of our favorite Danish jewelry lines, Rosa & Linde. Laura creates truly remarkable pieces of art inspired by elements of Mother Earth that remind us to slow down and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. At APORTA Shop, we carry a variety of rings and earrings hand crafted with deep intention by Laura that we are delighted to share with our community. As a jewelry designer myself, I was so excited to sit down and chat with Laura about her creative process, feeling burnt out, and the ecological impact of the jewelry industry as a whole.
APORTA Shop: Tell us a bit about how your brand and practice came to be? How did you start designing jewelry? How has your business grown and changed over the years? What is in the future for Rosa & Linde?
Laura Storgaard Pedersen: I think of Rosa & Linde truly as an extension of myself. It has become such a big part of my life and of who I am; teaching me to grow and push myself to create and give form to the things I feel within. I started out with traditional metalsmithing, a beautiful craft, because I suddenly felt compelled to work with metal. I then fell in love with bronze, its golden, warm tone and durability, and I started to form little sculptures in it’s claylike form – allowing me a freedom to create the more organic shapes I had in my mind. On this still short journey, I have found myself increasingly inspired and in coming to know myself as an artisan better and better. Having always been drawn to soft and abstract forms, I feel my truest works have also been unfolding a lot more recently. Currently I’m working on incorporating more natural elements into my craft – combining the golden and hardy metal with earthy and soft wooden structures. This is a combination so divine to me and it feels like a sacred collection is slowly coming together.
As a current city dweller – though mostly if not solely by convenience – my studio is basically half of my living room. At least half of my dining table is often overflowing with tools and projects. I love the simplicity of it. Though I do so dream of leaving the city and moving to the forests, to a big garden and a dedicated atelier. Moreover, when it comes to the future, I suppose I have many goals; yet I also just want to see where life takes me. I would love to grow my business a bit so I can make it more of a full time livelihood. But I don’t mind slow growth, so this is something I see happening over time. I also want to branch out and maybe create other earthy arts in addition to jewelry. For now though, I feel a need to focus most on nourishing the roots of where I am.
Photography by @artofeuphoria__ worn by @linda__pappa.
AS: What designers and/or artists have inspired you historically? Recently?
LSP: Nature is always at the center for me. She is the heart in all there is and inspires every idea that I shape. I don’t often look at something and think to recreate something similar, though that also does happen, I mostly find that I am charged with creativity by just being in, and looking to Mother Nature. Specifically the warm earthy tones you find in different soils, in trees, their grain and bark, in smooth river bodies trickling over rocks, solid and sculptural. Observing Her is my greatest inspiration. Honoring Her is my greatest responsibility.
Laura works in an incredible medium called metal clay. Metal clay looks and feels very much like earthen clay, but is made of very fine metal particles, water, and a binding substance. After molding, each piece is fired in a kiln which causes the water and the binder to evaporate, leaving solid, reclaimed bronze as the final product. On Laura’s website you can read about this process in more detail and how this particular medium fits in with her sustainability goals.
AS: How did you start working with metal clay? It’s such a unique medium and I feel like not many other people are working with it. What was the learning curve like?
LSP: For a long time I thought I wanted to be a ceramist as I adored how you can so freely sculpt in clay. When I took a pottery class a couple of years ago, I found, however, that it wasn’t quite the medium for me. So after doing some traditional metalsmithing and falling in love with metals, I found this new path and ventured into metal clay work after buying all the necessary tools, and I started to teach myself. I love the freedom of working with metal clay, but it definitely is a very unique and different medium. Though being self taught is a beautiful path, it’s also a course often full of mistakes and growth. I have surely learnt from past mistakes and know that still, I can only go forward – which is really quite lovely.
I came to this next question a little selfishly I must admit, I had been experiencing great creative burnout in my own jewelry design while talking with Laura and I wanted to hear how she dealt with some of these feelings. I admire her work and her craftsmanship so much, but I also recognize that on the other end of her gorgeous pieces, is a human being who has put her heart and soul into this work.
AS: How do you deal with burnout in your creative practice?
LSP: Not very well I’m afraid. It’s definitely one of the aspects of having your art be a business that can be most difficult and it’s something I’m working on myself. Nature is my sacred space – always, and when my studio cannot be – so I do my best to get out and soak in some natural artistry as well as to slow down and replenish my mind. Therein, for me, would also be gardening: A most grounding practice that helps me to refocus on the things that truly matter. And fortunately, because I mostly make pieces per order, with a design already in my head, heart and hands, I find this to be the perfect medicine for creative burnout; I’m still working with my hands but not under a pressure to create something new. This way I find I may nourish my creativity to slowly come back – although usually it returns in absolute highs where the ideas seem to never end. This is when I form my one-of-a-kind pieces.
AS: Tell us a bit about your design process and how your jewelry comes from idea to form.
LSP: Usually it comes to me in creative flows, or pings which may describe it best. Sometimes I draw a rough draft, and other times I simply sit down to sculpt or carve an idea and see it unfold and change before me. My design process really is as simple as that. Though as I have mentioned, I often look to Nature for inspiration when I need it, and more recently as a material source to weave into my pieces as well. I always aspire to make a ceremony out of the entire process. To me – in part – this means being present with each piece as it comes to be, weaving intentions of gratitude and protection into its being, and finally giving them a little ritual cleanse.
"What is also important is that as individuals and consumers, we choose the material things we acquire carefully; selecting items that we know we will use and love, that will add value to our lives."
On Laura’s website she talks in great detail about her sustainability practices which is something I so admire about her work. She is so open and honest in all the ways that she is working to lessen her carbon footprint. Reading her answer to this question, I’m struck by how futile it can seem sometimes to be an individual living in a world that is quickly being destroyed by giant corporations. But, that’s what makes supporting artists like Laura so important; spending your money on goods made by individuals who care so deeply for the world that they create in is one of ways to fight back against these huge companies. Enough of my waxing though!
AS: Talk to us about your sustainability within your line. I know there’s a lot of info on your practices on your website but tell us how you think the jewelry industry as a whole could be more sustainable and how you feel you fit into the greater scheme of sustainability?
LSP: Unfortunately, a lot of jewelry nowadays is mass produced and not necessarily made to last – having become an interchangeable commodity for some. These things in general are the most unsustainable ways of production. Of course bigger productions also have a place, when practiced with an awareness and openness to change, but unfortunately most big corporations just don’t prioritize sustainability – certainly not before mass profit. Apart from greenwashing – a terrible issue on its own – the activism on climate crisis has done a lot so more and more companies are trying to lessen their impact as a result. “Sustainability” is a big word though, with ever so many nuances, it could be discussed to no end. I will always be open and glad to engage in conversation about it – both as an individual and as a business owner.
What I think is so different when supporting artisans and small businesses, is that you can often tell and trust that their heart is really in it. A lot of us really do care about the Earth and do as much as possible to have a positive impact – and not as part of a marketing scheme. As I continuously express, Mother Earth is at the very core for me and for Rosa & Linde. To me it’s about doing the best where we can: As a jeweler this may mean using recycled metals and relying on renewable resources, even upcycling seemingly non-precious materials and being creative with what we have. Creating small batch or made-to-order pieces. Planting trees or offsetting our carbon footprint, choosing the greenest shipping courier... There are endless ways to look at things, and I am sure I will continuously evaluate where I can do better myself. I know though, that in this moment, I in truth feel good about where I am.
On another note, what is also important is that as individuals and consumers, we choose the material things we acquire carefully; selecting items that we know we will use and love, that will add value to our lives. Personally, I adore jewelry’s ability to enhance and reflect, and whenever I notice my fingers wrapped in little golden embraces or my neck adorned in sacred wools, I feel all the more radiant. They become a part of me, so if I am not wearing them, it just feels a bit empty. Of course I am knowingly biased, speaking as a jeweler, but still I greatly believe in their power, and even going back to ancient times, jewelry has revered such significance and symbolism – which is another consequential source of inspiration for me; studying and imagining the importance they held for the people who wore them...
AS: What’s been something you’ve been incredibly proud of in the last year? Gotta have a little good with your pandemic, ya know!
LSP: When Rosa & Linde came to be. Getting over my self doubts and the what ifs – just doing it and trusting in it. I had begun my journey with jewelry in the previous year, but actually opened this little love-project as a business last year. I have also come to accept and even prefer the slow growth: It’s intimate and I love that I can keep up and almost get to know each customer. Instead of feeling a pressure to sell x amount of pieces or achieve a big following, although I do still feel it, I have learnt to simply enjoy the path and scenery from where I currently am. And so, I think we can fittingly end on a beloved quote; “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu.