I immediately knew Natasha’s design of the Crescent Necklace would be a semi-finalist for the Jewelry Design Challenge the moment I opened up her entry. The charming piece matched perfectly with the UncommonGoods brand – not only was it a beautiful ceramic piece, but it was handmade with a unique mosaic design. The only problem we ran into, since Natasha offered multiple hues for her designs, was deciding on which color to feature! The judges were unanimous when deciding on the winner and I was happy to make that phone call to the very excited and humbled Natasha. We wanted to bring a necklace into our assortment that was a classy statement piece, a pendant that would be hard for anyone not to notice, but not overwhelming or too showy. The Crescent Necklace was a perfect match. And because we couldn’t resist ourselves, we also threw in her matching earrings. Meet Natasha Justice, our latest Jewelry Design Challenge winner, and learn about her step-by-step process of making her Crescent Necklaces.
How did you come up with the concept of your design for your Crescent Necklace?
I love to mix different shapes and textures. I had some pieces from a broken necklace that sparked my curiosity. I pushed each of the pieces into my rolled out slab of clay and really liked what I saw. I was wanting a bold piece, so I used my large oval to sort of frame the textured design I just created. And the shape and design jumped out at me. I made another cut to create the crescent shape and loved the completed piece.
How did you celebrate when you found out that you won our jewelry design challenge?
I immediately called my husband, I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited! And we went to dinner that night to celebrate.
How did you discover our jewelry design challenge?
I heard about it through another artist and looked into it on UncommonGoods. I always tell myself to just go for it, you never know, you could win.
Can you tell us 3 fun facts about yourself?
1. I am seriously addicted to crime shows and movies. I love Criminal Minds and any type of crime thriller movie.
2. I started making jewelry when I was 10 and then [again] after getting laid off. When I found out I was pregnant with my first son (I have 3) I decided I needed a hobby to keep myself busy. So I started making more jewelry and my hobby became my business.
3. I can’t sew but I would absolutely love to learn how.
What different techniques do you use when creating your designs?
I mostly use hand-building techniques to create my clay pieces.
What’s one piece of jewelry you own that you would never want to lose?
One of my very first ceramic pendants I made. It reminds me why I started making ceramic pendants and my love for clay.
Can you walk us through the step by step process of creating your necklace?
I take a clump of clay and roll it out flat with a rolling pin. I then take the broken necklace pieces and stamp out the design. I cut the design out with my large oval cutter and then I use a small circle to complete the crescent shape. I smooth all of the edges, make the holes in the top and sign each ceramic piece on the back. Then each piece has to dry out completely between two weighted pieces of wood to ensure the clay pieces do not curl. Once they are dry I put them through the first firing, which is the bisque firing. My kiln reaches 1,940 degrees. I let the pieces cool and then they are ready to be glazed. I hand-glaze each piece with a paint brush. I load my kiln again and let the kiln reach 1,830 degrees. After the pieces cool they are ready to be made into jewelry. I buy my chain, jump rings, and lobster claw clasps in bulk so I have to measure each piece of chain to the appropriate length and hand cut each one. I then assemble the necklace into a completed piece.
Other than making and promoting your jewelry, what other hobbies are you into?
I love watching movies and I recently got back into working out consistently. [These hobbies] seem to help me wind down.
Do you think jewelry pieces should be fashionable or timeless?
I think a girl needs a little bit of both. I love timeless pieces, but I always have to have some fashionable ones as well. The fashionable ones are my go-to when I go on dates with my husband or out with the girls. I also love to mix them both with layering.