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Behind The Scenes

How Sarah Fox Developed her Jewelry Habit

Sarah Fox intended to be a sculptor. That experience playing with dyes and colors, light and scale has made her Chicago-based jewelry line Cursive Design something really special—it’s the perfect fusion of delicate forms and loud, attention-grabbing details. Here’s how she got there. On losing her jewelry virginity:“Growing up, I was especially always into making things, and in high school—I have to preface this by saying it was the early nineties—I started a little hemp-jewelry business. My high school was not that big. But I did have some competition, so I started to dye the hemp really horrible colors like forest green and maroon to make it different. It’s funny that I was dying the hemp, like I do now with lace. I only recently realized that I was playing with dye and color and these ideas even when I was 16. And I was pretty good at marketing and thinking about the demographics. A guy I knew sold weed, and I’d say, ‘Hmmm, I need to see who he’s selling to.’” Pieces of Sarah’s hand-dyed lace. On getting really into color:“One of the first things I started studying at art school was color theory. I was really drawn to this painter Hans Hoffman, who explored the push and pull of color.” Left: Hans Hoffman’s Equipoise; Right: “This necklace is inspired by Hoffman. The neon is like the push, and the creams and browns are the pull.” On making dangly things:“I pretty much decided sculpture was my thing right away at Montserrat College of Art, and then I continued to study it when I transferred to the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. I also really focused on electronics and lighting design, so it’s really odd that I ended up making jewelry because I was making these large-scale light installations. But I see a correlation between necklaces and earrings and pendant lamps. The properties are the same, and they’re hanging.” One of Sarah’s most recent sculptures. On playing with lace:“I started exploring lace when I was working on a light piece. This was before laser technology was really out and about—2003 or 2004—so I was hand-sanding and trying to hand-cut this lace pattern into Plexiglas. There was just no way you could do that. I shelved the project, but I came back to the lace idea. The Plexiglas is this little relic that started this whole thing. I can’t get rid of it.” The incomplete lace lighting project. To get your hands on one of the 50 exclusive Cursive Design necklaces, click here.
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How Sarah Gets her Goods

Some of Sarah Fox’s sourcing for her bright and complex jewelry line Cursive Design is hyper-local, and some takes place on a more grand scale—but she always does it in person. “I find that I just really need to feel the material,” she explains. “And I’m kind of bad at measuring things.” This is where she tracks down her most interesting supplies. BRANCHES: Her ‘hood“Beautiful branches are just kind of everywhere, once you start noticing them. I’ll see one on a walk and think, ‘Oh, this is the right size,’ and drag this big branch back to my place. That’s sort of ridiculous, and my husband is just sick of it. I have a lot of branches here, and he doesn’t let me keep as many as I’d like to.” LACE: L.Z. Products“I have a place that I go to specifically for the crochet—a fabric store in Chicago on the South Side. It’s a family business, and I like the feeling of being there. It’s not very organized and clean—it has this old-warehouse feel. Most of the lace is white when I buy it. Some of it will be slightly grey, and then I have to bring it to white with a bleach mixture—to get the color right you definitely need to start with white. When I’m shopping, I’m always looking at the shape, and then I know that I can get it to where I need to, color-wise.” BEADS: Bead shows“They’re really fun and just invigorating because you’re surrounded by booths of beautiful things, and you really have to design on the spot. Because the prices are pretty good, someone could snatch up this loot of crystals or whatever, and then they’re gone. I love those days a lot, thinking about what you can do with these things and stocking up. I go to the International Gem and Jewelry Show—be warned that their website sparkles—and one year I want to go to the Tucson Bead Show, which is supposed to be huge with lots of interesting stones.” Some of Sarah’s final products To get your hands on one of the 50 exclusive Cursive Design necklaces, click here.
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Sarah Fox: Behind the Necklace

When Sarah was designing the necklace she made for Of a Kind, she got in the zone. The only thing that came between her and her dye was some testosterone-fueled rock. Here, a look at the inspiration and the process.To get your hands on one of the 50 exclusive Cursive Design necklaces, click here.The Rolling Stones Had a Hand.“When I was making this piece I was listening to a lot of Rolling Stones—“Paint it, Black” especially just kind of clicked. My parents definitely raised me with hard rock—Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills & Nash—and folk stuff too, like the Mamas & the Papas and Santana. I remember the speakers being taller than me and knowing the words to these songs like “Hotel California”—I was eight or nine and didn’t even know what I was singing about. I’m usually listening to this sort of stuff when I’m making things, and I don’t really know if it comes across in the jewelry. But I think it did in this bib necklace. I envision it on a girl who’s kind of a badass. There’s something about that aggressive kind of rock—it fills you with a lot of energy. It happens to be very good to work to. I like a lot of more somber music as well, but it’s not as good to work to. The sad songs get you down. That’s why you also have to turn off NPR after a while.”There Was Bleach—But it Didn’t Come in Contact with Hair.“All of the lace pieces are hand-dyed. They’re dipped a couple of times—first in grey to get that gradient, and then in black after they’ve dried. It’s important for them to dry because the dye travels differently if they’re wet. Some of them are triple dipped in bleach to really bring back the white. It’s a fun process, and it’s pretty hard to get a hundred that look the same. But I think that’s part of it, too. It’s hard to get away from this idea that you want them all to look identical, but that’s just not possible. Each person is going to get a slightly different fade, but what was important to me was that each has the dark, the light, and the middle.”
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