One minute it's snowing. A few days later everyone's in shorts. It seems Mother Nature cannot make up her mind about whether or not spring will come.
While she gets her life together, there's also the option to wear pieces of spring until it actually does arrive. . With nature-inspired jewelry from these three local artists, it's easy to bring the outdoors into your wardrobe. And don't forget, Mother's Day is May 11 -- what mom doesn't like a new necklace?
While English might not come so naturally to Bulgarian native Nikola Nikolov, anyone can understand the beauty behind his homemade jewelry.
"The nature of things played a huge part in our lives," he said." We wanted to capture the beauty of nature in our jewelry and that's how we started producing necklaces."
While it is up to Nikolov and his wife, Teodora, to make the pieces, they have to wait for Mother Nature to do her part as well, since the plants in the jewelry are real flowers.
"The first thing that I notice is just the color and the shape of the pendant," Nikolov said. "Sometimes we're thinking what kind of flower will fit perfectly. It was kind of difficult in the beginning. We spent probably a month trying to make the pendants."
The duo originally struggled with bubbles in the resin they use to freeze the flowers, as well as the amount of time required to craft each pendant. Now, they have it down to a fine science.
"It's a little bit more than a hobby, he said. "We are proud of our shop."
The great outdoors also is Kate Mitchell's partner in the jewelry business; every piece starts with a found object.
"All the little twigs and stuff that I find and pebbles, they're all found in different areas throughout Chicago," Mitchell said. "It's really an awesome way to connect women throughout Chicago with nature."
After attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for fashion, she found herself constantly focusing on accessorizing, usually with metal. That's when she began metalsmithing at the school.
"I think that over time I'm been pretty obsessed with nature and very tiny things of nature and how delicate and refined they are," she said. "Most of my inspiration comes from being on walks and digging into the ground to see if I find anything. I have a daughter now and she sometimes finds little things."
With Twig Designs, Mitchell casts the objects in metal, transforming them into delicate, wearable pieces of Chicago nature.
The collection finds its origins in one of Chicago's most iconic places: the Art Institute itself. Mitchell's first attempt involved casting hawthorns that she clipped from outside the museum.
Sea Maiden Jewelry
Traci Snider has sold jewelry on Etsy for years through Valley Girl Designs, but her new shop, Sea Maiden Jewelry, is where her interest in nature manifested itself. The collection focuses mainly on the ocean and gemstones.
"I love gemstones too because to me those are kind of nature-y," Snider said. "They're rocks, but they kind of all have their own metaphysical purpose."
Some of her most popular pieces are made of druzy stones, which look like regular gemstones but have a druzy quartz on top that has been heated to make the original appear spiky. Sea Maiden is also where she has had the chance to embrace different kinds of metal like real sterling silver and different kinds of gold.
"I think that jewelry should represent or tell a story about the person who wears it," Snider said. That's how she originally started making jewelry, in hopes of creating pieces that she herself could wear with anything.
Since then, it has become a full-time job.
Veronica Wilson is a RedEye special contributor.