dirty rice: delicious jewelry from the cajun heartland
. If ya ‘aint from the south than you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. My little Cajun maw maw, rest her soul, made the best dirty rice ever. She also made the best rice and gravy, but that’s another post for another day. When Elise from Lafayette contacted me about her Ecrevisse jewelry collection I knew it would be perfect for Slow Southern Style. Paying tribute to the southern food I grew up on is always a good way to win me over. Turning real crawfish claws into jewelry? Even better.
Crawfish jewelry made out of actual crawfish is an interesting concept. What spurred the idea?
Everything I know about jewelry I learned from the internet or the library. I kept reading about all these alternative materials for beads, and had decided that I wanted to try to sell my work and was brainstorming for ways I could develop a line of jewelry that was unique. It was a eureka moment; I suddenly realized that claws might make fantastic jewelry. My second thought was that surely someone was already doing this…but after a lot of poking online, I really couldn’t find anything. So there it was, a unique product and a local market. After that it was a lot of trial and error, research, and experimentation to figure out the best way to use them.
Poydras fringe necklace
I love the names of your jewelry, obviously all southern references. How do you pick each one out?
I wanted a shop name that reflected my local pride and the fact that my products are handmade, yet was familiar enough outside of Louisiana to make sense. I did a lot of brainstorming and in the process of deciding on a company name generated a long list of ideas. Generally while I am working a piece a particular name comes to mind, perhaps inspired by the color or shape of the item (for example, a nutty orange brown color reminded me of whiskey, which lead me to Whiskey River.) Usually by the time a piece is finished, I already have a name in mind. I guess they name themselves.
How does living in Lafayette influence your work?
I couldn’t do what I do anywhere else! I also wouldn’t be doing the kind of work I do if I hadn’t spent 5 years in Boston and 4 in Portland, both really fashionable cities in their own ways. I have tons of supportive friends who have become customers, and Lafayette is in a place right now where there is a lot of interest in funky local items.
Whiskey River Earrings
You’ve had quite a handful of interesting jobs! Would you care to share these with Slow South Style’s readers?
I’ve done a little of everything; part of it has to do with earning a degree in Painting from art school. Finding a relevant job wasn’t an option at first. So I took was what available after I was out of school, which ended up sending me to Portland, OR to work as a matchmaker at a high-end dating service. After that I worked at the district attorney’s office in Portland, and was eventually assigned to the sex crimes and homicide unit. It was fascinating and rewarding work. My husband and I decided to move back to Lafayette, our hometown, and I now teach art at the Episcopal School of Acadiana, my alma mater. It’s a fantastic school and my absolute dream job, and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach there.
Define southern style.
Yikes! Perhaps it is ironic, but I definitely do not think of myself as fashionable. For me, southern style means comfort, accessibility, and a lack of pretension. Nothing too fussy, but not so casual that anything is left to chance. The first thing that comes to mind are all of my relatives up in Shreveport with their crisp white pants and beautifully coiffed hair, seersucker suits with bow ties.
Get your own serving at Dirty Rice’s Etsy shop.
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