A few months ago I attended the Phoenix Style Collective AZ Blogger Conference where I met a beautiful artist (and blogger) named Martha Golea. What caught my attention, aside from her doe like eyes and porcelain skin, was an amazing desert style necklace she was wearing. I’d never seen ANYTHING like it before, and as a lover of both art and fashion needed to know more. Low and behold Martha told me she’d actually made the gorgeous piece herself!
About a week later I ran into Martha again at another fashion event at which time to my astonishment she gifted me with one of her beautiful necklaces. It’s a one of a kind piece handcrafted with her unique artistic touch that I’ve treasured ever since. Martha was kind enough to tell me how she made my beautiful desert piece, and with her first fall collection in the works it’s the perfect time to share the story.
AZSG: How did you come up with the design?
MG: I made my first cactus necklace after finding a small skeleton piece in the desert, on a hike last spring. The piece had been sanded perfectly smooth by nature and it was so fun to hold and such a great shape.
AZSG: Where do you find your inspiration?
MG: I experiment a lot, always trying to make something more unusual, so I make something and set it aside until I find just the right pieces to complete it. For these necklaces, I select a few pre-made pieces then add some new beadwork, other collected charms and finishing touches, always adding on until it has the right size, shape, and level of chaos that defines my style!
AZSG: How did you acquire the different skills needed to put the necklace together?
MG: My parents were semi-hippies so I learned macramé, crochet, and other hippie crafts early on. It’s so funny to see all of those elements coming onto the scene in high fashion with the recent friendship bracelet revival! I try to take really basic craft projects and combine them all into a necklace that makes a major statement.
AZSG: Where did you find all the unique pieces that come together as intricate parts of the necklace?
MG: I try to use recycled and/or found pieces as much as possible because I think they have so much more character than store-bought elements. Your necklace has some ribbon left over from the decorations at my wedding, some metal washers, beads I’ve been hoarding since middle school as well as some from a bead swap with friends in college and some salvaged from clothing. Your cactus piece is from a larger piece that I had to break up and hand-sand.
AZSG: What makes these necklaces one of a kind?
MG: I love that the cactus skeleton is completely unrecognizable to people who don’t live in the desert, but anyone raised in AZ can immediately identify it. It really makes it special, especially because it’s pretty rare to find a skeleton. I had to hunt for this one! I’ve lived all over the country but nowhere else I’ve lived is nearly as unique as Phoenix. This is the wild, independent west. These necklaces embody that spirit. The spirit of those who embrace the desert instead of forcing it to be something it’s not.
AZSG: I know you do custom orders, but where else do you see your desert necklaces selling at?
So there you have it. The background story of how a beautiful desert necklace came to fruition, and Martha’s talent doesn’t stop there. Her artwork was on display for viewers at the Songbird Coffee & Tea House during the month of June after she was chosen as their featured local artist.
If you would like to get in touch with Martha to place an order for a desert necklace similar to mine (remember they’re all one of a kind) you can contact her by going to her website at martha-j.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @ararejoy. As an added bonus you will be happy to know Martha is committed to helping the environment. If you purchase one of her pieces 10% of the profit will go to charity to help ensure a more sustainable future, allowing you to support art and sustainability at the same time.