Fantasy, soul, and the natural connection of things are at the heart of Scosha Woolridge’s jewelry designs. Originally from Australia, Scosha drew inspiration from her worldwide travels before eventually calling New York City home. Her happy mix of materials — including textiles, metals, leather, and precious stones — play off each other in a way that feels raw and authentic. Scosha approaches her work as a storyteller, incorporating words and materials that together create a personal narrative. Designing for both men and women, Scosha explores the sort of truth that can only be found in things made by hand.
You think of yourself as a storyteller, creating a narrative through your jewelry designs. Is this narrative coming by way of a mood, an aesthetic, the materials, or something else?
It comes from many dimensions. It’s a fantasy creature that has been in my art for many years — that is the true underlying story and a whole story in itself. Jewelry making is an extension of that character, so I would say it’s mostly emotional. I’m obsessed with and excited about how well things naturally connect, without force. Whether it’s creating an art piece, designing a piece of jewelry, building a relationship, or playing a sport, there are so many colors, textures and layers to play and build with. It really can be like teeing off on a golf game — when you hit that sweet spot, that point of perfect connection, it is euphoric, and I get the same feeling through art and jewelry making. I know people feel it too, and that is what I am tapping into. It’s that indescribable satisfaction that I always want more of, so that’s what keeps me prolific. I’m simply addicted to that sensation.
To take this question a step further, we’ve come out of a time in which it was all about the label and the bling factor and had very little to do with personal design or meaning. How do you see your work fitting into today’s culture?
I love things that are understated, raw, nonchalant but sincerely personal, a little unkempt in the sense that they run their natural course. Anything with too much polish is like erasing the truth. Fake, cheated, unattractive.
I think today, where mass production is so in our faces and has been for some decades and will continue to be so, where certain people are lucky enough to live in the modern world but are unlucky to have been bombarded by commercialism, they still crave hand-made and soulful things. It’s part of their core, it’s as important as healthy food is for the system.
The hand-made, with all its tiny details, enables you to really look closely and explore. It can stimulate a person to go to an emotional place, which can create positive feelings, new ideas, and a healthy state of mind.
Tell me about your time growing up in Australia and any early artistic influences, how you came to live in New York, and how your jewelry design career evolved.
My family moved to Sydney when I was 5, to an urban neighborhood, a lot of bush. I was very independent and imaginative, and it was hard for me to connect to most kids because I was bossy trying to get kids to play their part in my dance shows. I made puppet shows, and I did haircuts for the kids in the streets and charged them 5 cents. I tried selling old mirrors and flowers to adults in my street over and over again. I wrote secret poems and dropped them off in random letterboxes — things like that. My mother taught me to sew really young, so I started making clothing at the age of 6. My grandmother was a painter, so I always told people I was going to be a painter or a dancer.
I became a state athlete, breaking records and doing gymnastics still while being infatuated with making art all through my primary and high school years. I did very well, and I was a perfectionist.
I knew at 17 I wanted to go traveling and learn about other cultures. I was very interested in third-world countries, because all the textiles I saw in books blew my mind, so after I went through three years in art school, I worked three jobs — as a fitness trainer, picture framer and as a waitress — to save my pennies and then flew off to Thailand and India and other parts of the globe. It was in Brazil by about the 8th month and I was seriously missing having a conversation about modern art. In Portuguese or English this conversation never could happen, so I contacted a lady I met in Mexico that lived in the west village in New York, and she offered me a job as her helper for her new boutique. I was in New York only one week and I knew I found my place in the world. It was such a mix of everything in one spot, and I liked the pace at which things moved.
I learned and made weaving in Brazil, and I brought some with me, started selling them, and then it went from there. I never intended to become a jewelry maker. I had done and was interested in so many creative things! I really wanted to make stop-motion animation and paint all day long, so it was hard to make the decision to focus on jewelry as my profession. It took me a while to accept this is what I am going to be known for. It was more that it became a demand, and I really began to enjoy the business side that I was learning. And it was the obsessive connection to people that I could achieve that really kept me moving forward.
I see you mix metals, leather, recycled cotton, antique textiles, and other materials in your work. Tell me about your inspirations for these choices and your creative process in playing with this mix.
It’s in the textures, and different molecular structures — they all have their strengths and weaknesses — and I like the way this plays off together, just like people. One could say, our life is not that different to a piece of string; we both have our place. Or you could say, I couldn’t choose just one material.
Do you approach your collections for men and women the same way?
I think so. I make things that I would wear, and I’m strongly influence by my masculine side. I actually like menswear more than womenswear, or maybe I just like to look at men. But then again, a woman is a beautiful thing to look at too.
You reference jewelry as a way to explore adventure and freedom in everyday life. Looking at your work and at some of the editorial images, it feels like this is also a subtle avenue to rebel a bit. Or maybe that’s what more personal design naturally entails! How do you see it?
I think being expressive shows a form of personal freedom, fearlessness and confidence, for which most people is a very attractive thing to have.
For whatever reason, if these things are seen as rebellious, it’s only because whoever the person is that’s making up the rules in their own mind is feeling uncomfortable. If expression makes you feel like you’re rebelling, then that’s fine too –each to their own ego. In magazines, a lot of images are cool people looking miserable. Not sure why having a sad face makes you look like a rebel. If I had a magazine, I would call it LAUGH, and every image would be so happy that you would become addicted to it because you’d feel so good after flipping through it.
Many of your designs include inscriptions, some with wording that is quite evocative. Can you describe how these words are integrated into your creative process?
It’s about the contrast of an “unsavory” word being used on a piece of precious metal. It’s about bringing yourself back to earth. The concept was a tiny little tag with an engraved inscription that you loved until you came up close and read the words, that every person in the world relates to but can have a different reaction to. That a wealthy person is no different from the working class at the core. We all talk garbage.
What’s next on the horizon for your work?
I really want to create a market for everyone. I’m aiming to get the hand-crafted bracelets made at more affordable prices. I have introduced some bronze metals so I can make bigger statement pieces, and I will always continue to use 10kt-22kt golds for higher luxury items too. It’s a different type of joy and satisfaction for each section of the pie. In the near future, I will have a store workshop so I can be more accessible.
What are some of your favorite things, whether they impact your work directly or just make you happy?
I love cats — I have three, and they are amazing, seductive creatures. They make me happy all the time. I would love a farm of all animals.
Sculpture, painting, drawing, sewing, stop-motion animation, writing little short books — I’m passionate and obsessed about all of them. They are so challenging in that they generally are about some internal growth that needs to come out. Any form of free expression impacts every part of my life just as much as snowboarding, tree climbing, genuine conversation, laughter and watching good movies with my partner.
It used to be travel, but now it’s more about the state of mind. As long as your mind’s right, you can escape anywhere, anytime.
For information about what jewelry designs are currently available, retail stores and ordering online, visit the Scosha site here.
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