Back home on business
TUPPER LAKE – For Rachel King, life is a lot like the metal she twists into handmade jewelry. It runs in a fixed line at first glance, but through a series of patient and deliberative bends, it is formed into something beautiful and unique.
King is an artisan who has used her one-woman business, Earth Girl Designs, as a means of travel across the country. She collected inspiration from nature and people encountered at farmers markets throughout her journey from the East to West Coast. Her self-described “soul search” came full circle with her return home to the Adirondacks last October.
King was born and raised in Tupper Lake. Her devotion for selling creative works developed at age 6, when she would barter her crayon-and-paper illustrations with parents and teachers. Now, 25 years later, she is continuing to expand her brand of jewelry with hopes to inspire creatives around the North Country.
“I think people know what they want to do when they’re little; they have an idea at least,” King said. “Some let go of those pursuits because they’re told by their parents and teachers that they’re silly or unrealistic. I personally didn’t fall back into my passion for art until I experienced something like a renaissance in college.”
King attended SUNY Plattsburgh and earned degrees in psychology and art education. While there, she began to experiment more with painting, drawing and printmaking. She currently teaches printmaking classes at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts when she isn’t posted up at farmers markets around the region. The psychology degree, she said, plays an integral role in clever marketing of her product to the “collective consciousness.”
In 2007, King was shown how to make a pair of earrings. She came to love the process and soon established Earth Girl Designs as an outlet to develop her skills in a new artistic medium. Using an assortment of metals, gemstones and intricate beads, she melds necklaces and earring designs inspired by her time spent in nature.
On King’s Etsy page, an online retailer for craft products, you’ll find over 100 unique designs drawing on themes of nature, Zen and what King calls “earthy elegance.” She attributes her prolific creativity to her time exploring wilderness.
“I feel very much connected with nature physically, mentally and spiritually, and it’s through that intimate connection that I find the inspiration for my pieces,” she said. “It’s not that I’m trying to replicate what a loon or tree looks like. The time I spend outdoors running or hiking builds my creative energy, and I know I’m doing what I truly want in life because the way it comes out is through my designs.”
King’s work is a mix of custom and replicated pieces. She begins a loop earring, one of her most common pieces, by drawing out a coil of metal and shaping it around something. The piece is hammered to give it texture and shape, then spun for up to two days in a rock tumbler to harden the jewelry and make it shine. After this, she polishes the earring and garnishes it with gemstones or beads.
The finalized jewelry is mounted onto a plain brown packaging card with a simple logo on one side and a mantra that reads, in part, “Find your passion. Pursue your happiness.”
You will find King at farmers markets in Tupper Lake, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Keene Valley. These are the places, she said, where she truly feels like she has come back home.
“It’s not just in Tupper Lake,” she said. “I get along great with the communities and people in every small town I go to. They’re so welcoming; I don’t feel like a stranger anywhere I go.”
King’s professional goals are to expand her wholesaling in and out of the country. One of her customers is a yoga store in Australia.
Her personal and spiritual goals are less related to her vocation. She wants to travel and gain inspiration from new sights, and more than anything, she said, she wants to inspire others to pursue their creative passion.
“I believe everyone should explore as much as they can and keep a journal,” she said. “The more you do that, the deeper you dig into who you are and what you truly want to do with your time on earth.”
“Get on a path where you can truly find yourself. Don’t ever think you’re bound to the expectations of others. You’ll meet all these people, do all these things, and every step you take is just a baby step toward this larger goal of feeling content with what you’re doing.”