Maker Stories

Style Map

August 4, 2011

A few days ago, we launched our first ever Uncommon Jewelry Design Challenge and we’re already seeing some fantastic submissions! Is jewelry-making your passion? Did an “aha moment” lead you to a unique new piece? Stand behind your work and send us your best designs for a chance to win $500 and the opportunity to sign a vendor contract with UncommonGoods!

Jewelry designer Charlotte Leavitt has an eye for design and a talent for jewelry making. She also has a love for sailing and a collection of charts. The former may fit together, and the latter make a practical pair. Charlotte actually found a way to combine her passions wholeheartedly.

It started when she was inspired by a creative friend. “I spotted a cute pair of earrings on a friend,” she says. “I asked her about them and she told me she made them. I thought, ‘I can do that!’ and promptly drove to the bead store and bought some supplies. One pair in, I was hooked.”

Since that first pair of earrings, Charlotte has refined her skills, found a way to incorporate another passion (sailing in Maine) and discovered her niche–custom map jewelry.

“Growing up my family had a 21 foot sailboat and we spent many hours sailing Penobscot Bay in Maine. I always loved being on the water. As an adult, I wanted to revisit that passion and bought a 26 foot sailboat that I sailed for many years in Casco Bay where I live now.

“I was trying to come up with a new and creative kind of jewelry style and had all of these charts on my walls at home,” she explains. “One day I thought about incorporating those charts into my jewelry–the aesthetics of the chart were a perfect fit for jewelry.”

After her “aha moment” she got to work on map jewelry prototypes and started presenting her samples to friends for feedback. “They went nuts and asked if they could have their special place captured in a piece,” she says. “That was the very moment I knew it was something more than a piece of jewelry. It was a personal journal, a history about a person, place or event.”

Charlotte’s Custom Map Pendants were such a success in our community voting app, we now also carry her Custom Map Cufflinks and Belt Buckle. These custom creations let you keep your favorite location, such as your hometown, your favorite city or special landmark or body of water, close even when you’re far away.

The artist is always looking for new ways to incorporate her signature maps into new creations. “I think about designing all of the time,” she says. “I get ideas from what my friends are wearing, what the latest styles [and] trends are in magazines…There is always the challenge of the mechanical function, budget and aesthetics and sometimes, time frame.

I love that part of my success depends on me letting my imagination go where it wants to, daydream if you will.You can’t approach design with logic. It looks contrived and boring. So I’m ‘required’ to let go of my perceptions and look at things differently. Often I’ll spot something I really love and I think about what was it that caught my eye–the color, the shape, the uniqueness.”

Despite the challenges, Charlotte is confident in her beautiful designs and encourages emerging designers to give it their all and stand behind their products. “Believe in your work,” says Charlotte. “If you don’t, no one is going to do that for you.”

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