When I first heard the term “bone jewelry,” I wasn’t exactly sure what to think.
In fact, my first thought was a grown up Pebbles Flinstone wearing a modernized chicken femur barrette complete with hipster topknot and super cool shades. Not even kidding. But the use of organic materials as bodily ornaments has been growing in popularity for quite some time now and has certainly passed the Pebbles phase.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out–upon meeting the ladies behind London’s Nowhere Fast Collective–that bone jewelry has become an art all its own. Not only is it fascinating to look at, it’s carefully and artistically created.
Samantha Murphy and Sydney Smith make up both halves of Nowhere Fast.
They welcomed me into their home to speak with them and ogle over their collection of once-living artefacts (and array of wicked jewelry, of course). The sheer creativity behind their work was immediately obvious and, despite technical difficulties, we launched right into a hearty chat about their practice.
If you haven’t heard of them quite yet, you’ll likely find yourself shopping the Nowhere Fast online shop hop or tracking them down at local artisan markets pretty much immediately…
So tell me about Nowhere Fast Collective. When did you get started? How did it Come about?
Sam: We’d been talking about it for a long time. We’ve known each other since grade 9 and have always had similar artistic styles.
Sydney: I’ve always collected bones and Sam had done some jewelry making, so when she moved in, it all came together.
That’s why your place looks like an archive?
Sam: Pretty much.
What artisan markets or public events have you guys participated in as the Collective?
How were those?
Sydney: Really good. People were really responsive and it helped to grow the business and helped us get our name out.
Is there anyone else involved in the Collective?
Sam: No, not right now. We’ve had other artists join us (like at Block Party) but nothing permanent.
Do you make other products besides the jewelry?
Sydney: We make tinctures and rollerballs with essential oils. We use herbs and plants that help with anxiety and depression.
We’ve made candles in the past and also make crystal jewelry. We also make buttons and zines that relate to healing plants and harm reductions. Some are guides to bone jewelry too.
Do you sell these products anywhere else?
Sam: We used Etsy for a while and we’re in a store on Halifax called Plan B as well as here in London at the Been Garden. We’re hoping for Uber Cool Stuff also. it’s difficult with store though because of the bulk product, we have trouble keeping us, especially after a market or festival. It’s a work in progress!
How do you go about making a piece?
Sydney: It starts with an image in our head and then it’s pretty much trial and error, we see what we can create. Often a piece will sit there for a while as we try to figure it out. We come back to it.
Sam: We bounce ideas off each other all the time.
So are you thinking about new pieces all the time then?
Sam and Sydney: Yeah!
Sydney: I’ll see a piece of jewelry on someone and know I could make a version of it, and make it better. We often draw inspiration from things we already know, we build off them.
Where do you get the materials for your pieces?
Sydney: We go looking for it. We make sure everything is ethical and are looking further into ethically sourced organic materials. We find a lot at flea markets and sometimes friends give us some as well.
What’s the average time it takes to make a piece?
Sydney: It depends on what it is. Some things are more simple while others are quite intricate. We’re learning new ways to create all the time and ultimately, a piece takes as long as it does to get it right. We put a lot of our own money into what we do so we want to make sure it’s the best it can be.
What’s the end goal?
Sam: Ultimately it’s having our own store.
Sydney: Also to do more local events / markets etc. We want to organize a pop-up shop so that’s in the works. Everything’s still mostly online and we ship world wide now.
Things are happening!