by Opera Hippy
"In my mind, there's a lot going on all the time. I'm weaving together stories, debating itself, deconstructing and reconstructing things, performing intense and almost constant cognitive behavior therapy--spinning in circles. I struggle with major depression, anxiety and ptsd.
In addition to having a fast mind and a soft heart, I've endured some intense trauma--emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse, plus the normal tragedies and happenings of life (privileged as mine may be, they have had a big impact on my sense of self and mental stability as an adult). The things which have always grounded me and helped me cope through abuse and moments of adversity, even before I understood what I was coping with, were acts of creation. Music, singing, sewing, crochet, jewelry making, painting. Even as a small child, my fort-building-game was competing with the best of them. The act of making something out of other things calmed me and brought me back to some unnamable, unexplainable sense of self-truth. Creating centers me, even when my center is hurting.
In addition to my mental health and abusive history, I have ALWAYS been fat... overweight, obese, plus size--however you'd like to say it. I've always struggled with my self esteem for so many reasons, but it all seemed to manifest in self hatred over my weight and my body. When I was younger I desperately wanted to be thin, with big hips. But, I'm fat with small hips and lots of love on the handles. I don't lose weight easily and I, frankly, have bigger battles than that. Plus, I hated the idea that I needed to change my appearance to feel better in this world. I wanted to accept myself as I was. I knew there was someone to love in here, and she didn't need to be thin, she needed to be accepted.
A couple of years ago, after finishing my Bachelors degree in Opera Performance, I mentally bottomed out. I was lost, confused, hurt, alone and terrified. I didn't know where to go, what to do. Plus, my mental health had been ignored too long. I had no choice but to deal with my head and the trauma of my past. I had to begin to get to know and accept my body, my illness, and my strange mind. I needed to switch from a state of resistance to a state of acceptance. I needed life to be just a little bit easier so that I knew it was worth living. So, I dedicated myself to a lifelong journey of self discovery, self love, and healing.
This process of healing was very traumatic in the beginning--as healing usually is. I painted and journaled, wrote music, turned to metaphysics and found my pagan roots. This led me to wire wrapping stones and crystals. From there, the progression into the jewelry I make now was natural.
About two year into that journey, and a year before starting STONED, I began crocheting again for the first time since college. It felt different though. My mind wasn't so clouded by self doubt. I wasn't so pressured by my perfectionist tendencies and an overcompensating ego telling me my creations weren't worthy. (Or at least, when I was burdened by that I could overcome it). I could count, focus on long term projects, and undo mistakes without destroying my motivation by insulting myself.
When I started making clothing, I began looking through the market--on Etsy and IG-- and noticed that there are a lot of people crocheting cute clothes--but usually only for a limited number of sizes. This is an issue I've encountered my entire life as a "Plus size" person. Some of the cutest clothes are only made for thin women, or certain body types. If they are made for bigger women, they are not made with the bigger woman's body and insecurities and comfort in mind. I began making things for myself and my friends--who all have a variety of beautiful and diverse bodies and styles.
I wanted to make clothing that empowered us to be bold, present, and empowered by our vulnerability. I recognized that the things smaller sizes need are different than the things larger sizes need. I've worked hard to make my patterns fit all bodies and look great on all bodies. All bodies are beautiful!!!!! We should all be able to celebrate our selves with unlimited self expression!
I've created to cope for so long. Now, I'm creating for me. I'm creating for you. I'm creating to create.
I believe in the power of handmade items to empower us to be unique, outstanding, and fearless. A hundred people could be making the same type of pieces, but they'd each have their own uniqueness because they come from an individuals hands--not a machine. They can all be successful with their own audiences--allowing each customer to find a truly unique style instead of buying a shirt that has been mass produced for a million other people in the world. Additionally, the expansion of the handmade market is feeding our local, working class economy (putting money in the hands of artists and makers directly instead of into the hands of a large corporate stores with billionaire CEOs). When you support a handmade artist you are supporting their family, their daily life. That money will likely go directly back into the local economy. When you support me, you're helping me feed myself and my fur baby (a lovely little ESA cat named Embyr) and pay my rent. You're helping me support other local artists and farmers. Handmade is fiscally responsible!
I believe in individuals, and their ability to change the world simply by allowing their true selves to be present in it. Ability to be present in a world like ours is dependent on an empowered sense of self, and a fearless commitment to expression of that self. I try to instill some sense of that in every wire I bend and ever stitch I complete in hopes that it will gift some of that magic onto the person who eventually welcomes the garment or piece of jewelry into their life. A world in which we are all fearlessly expressing our personal and vulnerable truth is a world in which we all, eventually, can live free and equal--happy."