She is quite fascinating…Once you stumble upon her photographs there is simply no going back. I don’t know what it was…The beautifully hand-crafted stag silver beetle pendant or the girl wearing it, the shades of grey or the light, but I just could not get enough of it all. It is a transcendently enchanting journey back to purity, to what has vanished, to what is lost and yet, she manages to recapture it all and reaffirm that it is here, it exists in the feminine side of the forest, the birds flying by, the sky shadowed by the approaching storm…and it all becomes fantasy. One glimpse in the world of Annie Montgomery is quite like a snapshot of a poem. It lays you down in a cloud of dreams and lets you sway in the cradle of a gentle melody sang by nature’s creatures. The beetle pendant is my favorite. It is cast from a real beetle and quite frankly, I had not seen anything like it. Glancing at her designs over and over again, I can not tell the beginning or end of divinity for it all seems like traveling back in time or to worlds far away, some with a touch of tenderness and romance and others-wild and unexplored. One can easily set off on a flight while peeking at her photographs. While she chose jewelry design to express her inner self, her talent extends beyond that. She happens to be quite gifted in portraying the connection between the muse and the creation itself through photography. It is all mirrored there. If you have not had a chance to take the journey yet, do not miss it (www.puredesignerjewelry.com), and while you stare at those hypnotizing photographs, take a moment to be introduced to Annie herself.
MW: When did you fall in love with jewelry design and what was your very first piece you created?
AM: I have been in love with art my entire life. Two years ago I began to focus on a way I could express my artistic ideas as well as support myself. Jewelry fulfills this for me. Not only am I passionate about the process, it’s an art form that supports my lifestyle. I believe this is reassurance that I am pursuing the right path. My partner, Nala Saraswati is also a jewelry designer & Vedic astrologer. He very much inspired me in following my dreams. Once we moved to Portland, I attended American Jewelers Institute- a small jewelry trade school. I went into school having no hands on experience or knowledge about working with metals. The first piece I created was a simple sterling silver ring. I hand fabricated the ring from an ingot I poured and pulled into wire. In school I also learned how to solder, forge, and cast both silver and gold. Once I became efficient with these skills, I understood the possibilities of artistic expression through metal, and fell deeply in love with jewelry design.
MW: Why silver? What attracted you to this particular medium and not any other?
AM: Sterling silver is such a pure metal. It is an inexpensive alternative to gold, and gives me the versatility to create high end, larger cast pieces that will withstand the test of time.
MW: What inspires you in everyday life and how are your collections born?
AM: I am inspired by so much in life. Nala and I are living in the forest along the Columbia River gorge. We live on a large piece of land in a geodesic dome that is both our home and studio. So I am certainly inspired by my environment and the beautiful life that surrounds me. I am fascinated by archetypes and symbols and the power these have on our consciousness. My collections manifest from this love of nature and spirituality.
MW: If you could send a message in a bottle, however, chose one of your designs instead of words, which one would it be?
AM: I would send out one of my cast silver, feather pendants. Although many of my designs are close to my heart, the feather pendant embodies the most meaning for me. I have quite the connection to the crow and raven spirit, as many do. Sending this token into the unknown would surely be guided by the flows of the ocean to someone with a similar connection and understanding.
MW: Tell me more about your love for photography and how it collaborates with your love for jewelry design?
AM: I am striving to convey a universal understanding of beauty. Beauty and divinity are everywhere, and it is so important to constantly remind ourselves of this. My photography attempts to express the vulnerable, natural feeling of being alive and being a woman. Sometimes I think it is silly that I put so much intention behind my images. Often I feel it may be smarter to focus only on selling jewelry and marketing my designs. But then I get lost, even obsessed, with elaborate ideas of capturing something real, something that goes beyond the “material”. I believe both jewelry design and photography are tools that allow me to communicate a message of beauty to this world.
MW: When did you first start taking photographs and do you remember your first muse?
AM: I have been blessed to have powerful, beautiful women as a constant in my life. I realized the power of photography when I was 16 and developing one of my first roles of film. My friend and I went into the forest with a vertebrae sculpture as a prop. She was nude and I snapped images of her holding this sculpture to her heart. When I saw the images come to life in the darkroom, I understood what was and is possible to capture with the camera- and the feelings that can surface. These images conveyed such a rawness of her soul. I could see her strengths and struggles, passions and fears- the duality that exists in everything. She was my first muse.
MW: What is your favorite type of camera? What type of camera do you use for your photographic sessions?
AM: I use a digital SLR, and have also worked quite a bit with film. Although many of my images are digital, I believe nothing quite compares to the authenticity and magic of the darkroom.
WM: What is a day like for Annie Montgomery?
AM: I can tell you about today… I awoke and reflected on my dreams. I keep a journal for my experiences that feel especially powerful. Nala and I sat at our altar and meditated. I then began my work day. I am preparing for a trunk/fashion show that is happening this week at Eden, a beautiful store in Portland. So I spent the afternoon working on this collection of designs: soldering, polishing, and oxidizing along with taking photographs, packaging, and updating my website. This is a typical work day for me, but often my days look different. I spend much of my time in Portland, running errands, visiting stores and friends. Other than that my world consists of daydreaming about future art projects, photographing elaborate shoots in the forest… or pursuing some other sort of blissful adventure.
MW: What is your wildest dream?
AM: My wildest dream may not be so wild-it’s simply to live a spiritual life filled with passion and creativity.
MW: Describe yourself in one sentence.
AM: This is the most difficult question yet… I would have to say: just a soul in search of truth and beauty.