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Behind The Scenes

How Laura Lombardi Makes Super-Special Rock-Inspired Earrings

Laura working the rawhide hammer and pick. When it came to creating these earrings—her first Of a Kind edition—Laura Lombardi brought together the driving forces behind her two most recent collections. “Spring is really focused on simulating shapes, textures, and sound in nature without actually using natural materials,” the Chicago designer explains. “And for fall, I wanted to explore mineral and sediment deposits.” The result? These layered pieces that would go just as well with Laura’s uniform—a tee, black jeans, and wedges—as with an LBD. Here, she takes us through the process of making a hundred of these showstoppers. —jiayi ying “I got these pieces from a vintage source in New York. They all come to me as individual triangle folds, so the first step is to create little indentations in the middle of all of them with this pick-like tool and rawhide knock.” “Then I take each piece over to the drill. I use flat tweezers to grip the piece with one hand and press down on the drill to make the hole where the dent was in the center. Assembling the actual pieces is very fast—it’s the drilling that takes a while.” “When that’s done, I stack four of them and loop the headpin through the hole. Then I’ll attach the wing and lastly the ear wire.” “My nails chip a lot when I’m working, but if I’m looking at my hands all day, I don’t want them to look gross. I grew up in New York with nail salons around every corner. My mom took me to get my first manicure when I was eighteen months old—I know that sounds a little crazy. But it’s something I’ve been doing since.” “I usually create them all in a batch, working several hours at a time, but I’d say it takes about ten to fifteen minutes to make one single earring.” Photos courtesy of Kyle LaMere. But wait: There’s more. Laura is back with another edition tomorrow. Get on our email list so you don’t miss it!
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Laura Lombardi's Seven Most Trusted Chicago Spots

Although Laura Lombardi hails from New York, she traded in the apple for some wind in 2008—a move motivated by a desire to continue art school in Chicago, but that instead led to the creation of her eponymous line of vintage-fueled metal jewelry in 2009. These days, Laura makes all of her designs by hand from her west-of-downtown studio—which is right across the hall from fellow Of a Kind alum Sarah Fox of Cursive Design. Here, the jeweler shows off her favorite digs in her adopted hometown. —jiayi ying The view of downtown Chicago from Laura’s studio. ART Architectural Artifacts“Architectural Artifacts is a great place to look around and get lost. It is in this big warehouse and is filled with salvaged pieces—giant industrial tables from forever ago and church doors, for example. The man who owns it travels all over the world to source them. He just got back from Argentina with these incredible pots that were made from wood and strips of horse hair.” (architecturalartifacts.com) A feathery game on display at the Field Museum. The Field Museum“I really like the Chicago Field Museum—it’s kind of like the Museum of Natural History in New York. They have artifacts from throughout the ages, and I love to go there for inspiration. I took this picture there a while ago—it’s of a Native American game.” (fieldmuseum.org)  Mmm…Milk & Honey granola. FOOD Milk & Honey“Milk & Honey is one of my favorite places in my neighborhood. They have really good housemade granola that they’re locally famous for—it’s sold at all the grocery stores here. It was one of the first places I ate at when I got to Chicago, and it’s always one of those places I keep on going back to.” (milkandhoneycafe.com) Laura’s setup at Dose in October 2011. SHOPPING Dose Market“Dose started in Chicago this year. It’s a monthly market that combines food and fashion. A lot of local restaurants, designers, and boutiques participate—I try to make it down there every month. It’s held at the River East Art Center, which sits right on the river—it’s this gorgeous place with high ceilings and a beautiful view.” (dosemarket.com) The Find“The Find opened this year on Grand Avenue, which is right by my studio. That street is known for having a lot of furniture and interior design stores, and I think The Find has the most beautiful collection—they have these hand-embroidered flags and interesting cowhide pieces. They really curate the selection.” (thefind-antiques.com) A peek inside Eskell. Eskell“This boutique in my neighborhood carries a bunch of really great lines like In God We Trust and Erin Considine, as well as their own designs. It’s my go-to when I need something cute to wear.” (eskell.com)  Merz Apothecary“Merz is this different-from-the-norm apothecary—it’s sort of a one-stop shop for things that aren’t easy to come by here. They have beet candles, fun gift bags, and a lot of European products. I have this awesome gold toothbrush from there. You know those Minx nails in that super-bright gold? It’s like that!” (merzapothecary.com)  Come back tomorrow to land Laura’s latest Windy City creation. And sign up for our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it.
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