“…and go Rimbaud,
Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud,
And go Johnny go…”
– Patti Smith / Land
Gorimbaud designs is a collaboration of two witches in love, partners in both life and creating.
They met in 2013 and after moving together in 2014, emerged the idea of starting their own Etsy shop. On this journey they have found their passion in creating unique handmade jewelry. They are inspired by witchcraft, their northern roots, nature and traditional craft, and each piece is lovingly handmade in their home.
“I was first introduced to Emillia and Vilma when they contacted me about promoting my company’s (Keven Craft Rituals) Etsy site through their tumblr blog about witchy items. At that time, my company didn’t actually sell through Etsy, but I was impressed both the quality of their work and sweetness and decision to promote other Etsy artisan’s as well as the pagan community. When The House of Twigs began as a new venture to help promote the pagan community, her partner and her were first on my list of those to tap into, pick their brain, and return the favor.”- Erika Fortner
Q – So you and your partner make jewelry in Helsinki? What the the challenges working so close with your partner? (Me and my fiance also work together so this is interesting to me)
Yes, we are both born and raised in Helsinki (that is the capital of Finland, for those who are not that familiar with the small countries of northern Europe) and we share a home from which we also work. This leads us to the only real challenge I can come up with – the lack of space. When I read this question for my partner Vilma, her laconic reply was: “Well, sometimes while working our elbows hit each other”. Besides a jewelry-making space, our small home also has to act as a painting studio for me, and a work station for Vilma, who works as a graphic designer.
As partners in both life and creating, our philosophy is to share the work based on our personal strengths. I’m lucky to say we complement each other on most areas.
Q – How did you two get started?
Before moving in together two years ago, we were packing up stuff at Vilma’s previous apartment, and while organizing the elegant chaos of her work desk I asked her about the unfinished jewelry and craft pieces she had lying around. This lead to a conversation about us both having a long history with dabbling in jewelry making, but being fed up with making jewelry only for ourselves. I was already familiar with Etsy, so the idea of trying to put our creations out there came pretty quickly after that. At the start we kinda lacked a clear concept, but we learned on the way and as time passed we found our own voice, so to say.
Q – What is the process you use to make your jewelry?
Many of our pieces are one of a kind, so the process varies. Usually we start out with sketching a bit, and bouncing ideas off each other. The designs are often inspired by the qualities of our materials: a certain stone needs to be wrapped a certain way, a piece of wood already carries inside its future shape. If something doesn’t work, we tend not to force it, but rather leave the piece waiting for the right answer to be found.
Q – What materials do you use and how do they relate to any of your witchy ways?
We mainly use copper, brass, various gemstones, wood, leather and bone. We are passionate about natural
materials, and the origin of a material is always part of the creative process. We acknowledge the certain qualities and traditions of different woods and metals, and the spiritual attributes of different crystals is a constant inspiration. his also goes the other way around: we try to not combine materials and symbols that have contradicting attributes.
The wood we use is fallen wood salvaged from a small forest near our home, and we have great respect for this place we source from. We have also created jewelry using local flora, inspired by the plants’ magical qualities. We love to use salvaged and up-cycled materials, all the leather we use is recycled vintage material, and the bones we use are ethically sourced.
Q – You mentioned you are not really “out” as witches in Finland, and have limited exposure to other pagans or witches there. As an American, I would like to think you have a cultural society that is more accepting?! Tell me about your experience there as a lesbian, feminist, witchy, artisan.
Yes, I would imagine Finland has a more accepting cultural society when it comes to religion (or the lack of it) than many other countries. Finland is, by large, not a very religious country. However, in Finnish culture a person’s religious views are seen as a very personal thing, and talking about your spiritual beliefs actually makes people very uncomfortable. It may sound weird, but here (at least in our social circle) the norm is to not be spiritual, and I think this is why so many Finnish pagans practice privately. Then there is of course the fear of being ridiculed, which I’d imagine many pagans experience worldwide, simply for being something that is seen as unusual, or as complete woo woo. That being said, Finland has a long tradition of paganism and I think Finns have a strong inbuilt respect for nature.
I think it’s safe to say that being a lesbian, a witch, a feminist, an artist and an artisan is not the easiest path anywhere, but to be honest, we could have it a lot worse. To live in a country this small becomes a challenge when you’re trying to find either a community or a market for something as niche as witchcraft. Thank goodness for the Internet!
Q – What do you think the biggest difficulty is as a young artisan that has chosen to promote yourselves as a witch(es)?
It of course limits the clientele a little. Without identifying your work with something that can be seen a bit weird by many people your possible audience is a lot wider. However, if you have a small business and a rather distinctive style you cannot please everyone anyway. So, while promoting oneself as a witch might put off some people your intended audience will probably not mind – and if you see your work as more than just business it’s nice to know that your work is getting appreciated by people who don’t only fancy the pretty stone, but the thought behind making it too. It is also a good way to get in touch with like-minded artisans, and that is definitely good for inspiration.
Q – Do you feel like you have been accepted by the larger online world? Internationally? Locally?
Yes, we feel accepted in general. I also think we’re on our way to finding our crowd.
Q – How would you like the worldwide pagan community to evolve?
Like any community: more accepting of variety, although that already happens quite admirably most of the time. Aware of our roots, and respecting all cultures and backgrounds. Maybe stepping out of the shadows a little wouldn’t be too bad either – pagans of many kinds have been around for a very long time, yet are considered something quite odd and marginal especially in modern western culture.
Q – What are your favorite sources of witchy news, information, books, or where you find your path?
- The first thing that popped into my head is Sarah Anne Lawless’ great blog and website that can be found here:http://sarahannelawless.com/blog/
- http://www.oldworldwitchcraft.com is another lovely blog with lots of useful information.
- I also tip my hat to the Finnish pagan resource site varjojenkirja.com that has been around as long as I can remember.
Q – Where can other find your and your wares? Do you do wholesale and can we find any of your jewelry in any stores?
- Our shop is here: http://gorimbaud.etsy.com
- And I also curate a blog for witchy finds of Etsy here: http://gorimbaud.org or http://etsycult.tumblr.com
- Our instagram: http://instagram.com/gorimbauddesigns
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/gorimbauddesignsPinterest: http://pinterest.com/heliumraven
- Unfortunately we do not do wholesale, and so far we only sell online.
Creator, Curator and Writer of THOT & Owner of Keven Craft Rituals, galley and boutique of handmade skincare products & metaphysical boutique in Eugene, OR. Erika is a fine artist, mother, lover of beer and a former roller derby player.