Ritual Spotlight - Swamp Swag Creations

Star Tarot Necklace from Swamp Swag Creations          Having seen several iterations over the years of 'scavenged' jewelry and feeling underwhelmed, we were hesitant to dive into that pool for brick and mortar Ritual. Too often local bones and crystals forged into earrings or necklaces veer more into Flintstone cosplay than the dark, editorial fashion we aim to promote.  As it turned out, we took the plunge into upcycled jewelry after meeting Heather Loop of Swamp Swag, an all around awesome person who makes edgy, fashionable pieces using everything in nature at her disposal - bone, bullet shells, old leather, copper, stones, recycled textiles, and even flowers and vegetation. Her art feels elemental and ancient, without devolving into the sort of witchy parody to which many designers succumb. It's accessible, arty, and uniquely itself, which is also an apt description of the creator. I bandied about some questions with Heather regarding her inspiration, her process, and what she's working on for the future. The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Describe the evolution of Swamp Swag - how did you manage to turn your jewelry making into a full time gig?
I have been making bone and bullet jewelry since i was a little teenage punk rocker in Las Vegas. Before I actually landed on Swamp Swag Creations (in 2014) I went through a slew of names. I chose Swamp Swag because I was living in New Orleans at the time and it was fitting.
I switched making jewelry into a full time gig around 2016 after i left NOLA and moved to the country in the PNW.  It just seemed right for me to  follow my dreams.
Bullet Bangles from Swamp Swag Creations

You deal with a variety of materials - copper (one of our faves), brass, bullets, crystal, leather, etc. Which is your favorite to work with? Which one is the hardest to get right?
My favorite and the hardest right now is copper. I'm doing electroplating of organic materials and it is some serious alchemy shit! So I'm basically copper plating ferns, poppy pods, foxgloves, blue bells, bones, etc.
It can be really frustrating when you spend 6/7 days prepping your organic materials, then forming the hoop shape from hand, constructing the image you want and then it goes into your plating bath and nothing turns out right! It's kinda heart wrenching.
Raccoon Shoulder Earrings from Swamp Swag Creations

You and I have talked a bit about our backgrounds since meeting... we’ve lived in a lot of the same places, like NOLA, NYC, etc., really different from where we are now in the PNW. Do you feel like the tone of your work has changed at all since arriving here? Did your process have to change at all to accommodate the landscape?
Yes...my jewelry hasn't changed because I'm still doing bone and bullet stuff. I would say the PNW has given me another medium to work with. I learned how to electroplate out here and since I live in the woods I do have access to all this beautiful nature.
For bones, yes.  I have adapted to using different animals. In NOLA I used more raccoons, opossums, turtles and gators. Out here its raccoons, opossums and deer. But I also had to use more road kill when I lived in the city. Here I find bones pretty cleaned already. Or if I find a dead animal I will leave it in the woods and let nature do its thing.
Leather Fringe Hoops from Swamp Swag Creations

So much of your work utilizes scavenged bone, which can sound gnarly to the uninitiated, but the pieces you create have a real elegance to them as far as the smooth contour and texture, almost like porcelain. How the hell do you do that?
Honestly I let nature do its thing. It has nothing to do with me. I am patient and I wait. Nature is pretty amazing.
Rabbit Rib Earrings from Swamp Swag Creations

You are always coming out with new things and building on previous ideas...what new projects are you most pumped about unveiling in the next couple of seasons?
I think I'm really excited for my new copper and brass pin collection I'm going to do in the fall. I'm going to hand etch images into the copper and brass and solder a pin back on it. I'm going to be making a Motorhead, a Dolly Parton, a Beetlejuice, and some tarot card ones.

We share an undying love for Motorhead, and I used to merchandise while listening to “Dancing on your Grave” in my earbuds...so I about died when I found out you do Lemmy impersonations. Favorite Motorhead song to do as Lemmy?
Overkill!
I will actually be performing as "Lemmy Kilminger" August 17th at the Highline Bar at a Motorhead themed Burlesque show.  I've decided I'm too goofy and weird to actually pull off straight Lemmy.
During Capitol Hill Queer Art walk you can meet Heather, see her jewelry, and maybe get a tooth gem at Ritual on Thursday, June 13th, from 5pm - 9pm.