"The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before."
- Neil Gaiman
MEET THE ARTIST
@windyravenleather on Instagram
Meet Ellen Burford, a leathersmith based in Three Forks, Montana. She has been working with leather for 3.5 years now, but has only got started incorporating turquoise and other semi-precious stones this year. Her work can be seen on her Instagram account with the handle @windyravenleather.
THE JOURNEY TO CREATING JEWELRY
"I have always loved wearable art and sharing my art with others," Ellen shared when asked what got her inspired in creating jewelry. She also mentioned that she loves collecting stones which allows her to share that passion with others through her jewelry.
When Ellen started combining leather with stones, she shared that she had a lot of pieces fail. Being self taught, Ellen learned most of her lessons the hard way. She recalled one custom cuff order that she had to rebuild three times before she was satisfied with how the final product turned out. For Ellen, it was a frustrating project but she learned a lot and it helped her grow her skills.
Having a beautiful brand name, we were curious if there was a story behind it. Ellen and her husband downsized their life from their busy home in town and are now living in a small log cabin in a rural area. The first year they lived there, they put in a solar system and now are completely powered by the sun. All that time working outside, they got to know their local wildlife.
"There was a trio of ravens, we called them the brothers, and they would come over and play on the air currents just behind our cabin," she mentioned. Ellen said they were the inspiration for the name, Windy Raven. "They are playful yet resilient and I hope I take some of that energy into my business and art."
ARTIST’S DESIGN STYLE
Often, when just getting started, artists would experience a euphoric moment; a feeling artists get whenever they feel pleased or happy about what they had created, or even what they hear from the people who get to see and experience their creations.
"I had questioned myself frequenting when I made the decision to make Windy Raven my full time focus," Ellen declared. She felt confident in her skills and designs, but insecure about incorporating her original art. When people started asking Ellen how she makes her pieces, that’s when she realized that other people saw her as a successful artist and that she just needed to believe in herself more.
Take a look at some of Ellen's beautifully-made creations!
Handmade Leather Jewelry by Ellen Burford of @windyravenleather on Instagram
THE DESIGN PROCESS
"Some projects come together in a flurry, others take months of drawing to get the flow to feel right," Ellen shared. Right now, she is still discovering and uncovering her personal style, so she still experiments a lot.
Personally, Ellen is a minimalist while her work has a western flare, design-wise.
Here are a few more amazing creations by Ellen!
Genuine Leather Turquoise Jewelry by Ellen Burford of @windyravenleather on Instagram
JEWELRY DESIGN TIPS, TRICKS, AND HANDY TECHNIQUES
What's one design tip you one to share with your fellow artists?
"I try to not look at what other artists in my medium are doing as much as I look for inspiration from other mediums. It doesn’t matter if what I’m doing isn’t traditional. Being self taught, I can break from what has been done before and focus instead on what really inspires me artistically."
Any words of encouragement or tips to those who are starting out in the world of jewelry-making?
"My bench has been littered with “failed” projects but that’s ok, I have grown so much. I keep my early work as a reminder of just how far I have progressed and find joy in that instead."
Lastly, here's Ellen's message to the universe:
Check out her work on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/windyravenleather/
Visit her website: https://www.windyraven.com/