story by cindy reid photography by paul nurnberg
Although we live in one of the country’s most picturesque coastal locations, South Carolina boasts magnificent pine forests and mountain country as well. Jewelry maker Laura Davis has tapped into that woodland beauty and created a handcrafted jewelry company called ‘In the Pines.’ Her one-of-a-kind pieces are elegantly wrought and reflect her nature-inspired aesthetic. Laura says, “I love the mountains and forests, and while I do create the occasional coastal-style piece, I always come back to the forest motif.”
Although she started ‘In the Pines’ in October of 2016, Laura has been working on her craft on and off for years. She says, “I took a metalsmithing course while attending Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and did a little jewelry making at that time. I was also a Geology major initially. I think I have always had an affinity for organic materials.” Laura became an English Literature major and after graduation she went on to a career in publishing, and then established a freelance copy editing business. She says, “They may not appear to be related, but both copy editing and jewelry making require some of the same skills, in that you have to be extremely detail-orientated and have the ability to perform methodical work.”
After Laura and her husband, Eric, moved to Beaufort, she took a metalsmithing class in Savannah. She says, “I started off in copper, which I liked, and I worked with that for a while.” She continued to hone her craft, creating pieces that include beading and leather working, eventually expanding to silversmithing. Her latest work is crafted from sterling silver and turquoise. She says, “I am getting more adept at silversmithing and soldering as my work evolves.” Much of her current work is delicately detailed and involves intricate cutouts like pine trees and other forest motifs from sheets of silver. She says, “The meticulous cutting out of the tiny trees with my jeweler’s saw is actually a favorite part of my work.”
Like many artists, Laura draws out her creations first in her sketchbook, then also references an “inspiration board,” replete with collected objects and interesting finds. The loveliness found in a butterfly, a feather, a sand dollar or a fragile piece of fern, all inspire and inform her creations.
Recently, Laura created a pine tree and stone pendant. She says, “This is one of my favorite designs and I was able to use a gorgeous piece of Damele variscite. Variscite, like turquoise, is a hydrated phosphate mineral, formed when acidic water trickles through arid ground, leaving behind trace minerals. These little bits of mineral fill cracks and crevices in the ground, leaving colorful veins and nodules that can be cut for jewelry. Unlike turquoise, variscite does not contain copper.”
Laura’s line of pieces is not exclusively forest-inspired; in fact she used the natural elements of gold, pearl, oyster shell and moonstone for a long coastal-style necklace. “I’m not one to use glitter and glitz but I do appreciate the look of gold in a piece,” says Laura, “and I think the moonstone really sets it off.”
Laura and Eric have been in Beaufort for the last three years. Eric is a Marine Corps pilot currently deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier. But military life has long been a way of life for Laura and Eric because, as she says, “We were both military brats, and nothing fazes either one of us. The longest I have lived anywhere is three years.” She met Eric in Geology class in high school. “We were in one class together—Geology. It was the only class we had together but we were both there on the morning of September 11. Both of our fathers were in the Pentagon that morning, and waiting to hear (ultimately good) news created a strong bond between us. But then I moved away and when I was in college he found me on Facebook, so we stayed in touch. Eleven years after our class together, he was living in Texas and I was living in Boston. He invited me to the Marine Corps Ball, but at the last minute he wasn’t able to attend due to work obligations. I traveled down anyway and as soon as I got off the plane, we just knew. We were married one year later and celebrated our four year anniversary this October.” Rounding out their family are two spirited labs, Ellie and Aero.
“My Grandfather was a metal smith and artist as well,” says Laura, “and after he passed away last year I asked if I could have his jeweler’s box of tools. I was already making jewelry and I was very fortunate to get several of his tools and be able to use them in my work.” One tool she often uses is her grandfather’s saw, and she also inherited some stones he hadn’t utilized. “I was able to make a ring for my mom using his stones.” This led her to create her “Heritage Collection,” which sprang from a desire to create pieces that represent each of her aunts from both sides of the family. “I sent them all a survey so I could gather inspiration and ideas unique to each person. I asked about things like their hobbies and spirit animals and what legacy they want to leave for future generations. “ She says, “One necklace I made for this collection is a quilt square with a tiger’s eye stone, which came about because one aunt is an avid quilter. She had made a carpenter’s star quilt for her friend who was fighting cancer and then later we lost my dad (her brother), also to cancer. I replicated the carpenter’s star for her piece, which was the perfect representation of her caring nature and the struggles we’ve all faced in recent years.”
“I really like Beaufort, it is one of the top two places I have ever lived—the other being Boone, NC. I think of Beaufort as the coastal equivalent of Boone. I like the size, where I can still be close to nature because it’s not a large, overpowering city,” Laura says, “I like the small-town feel and you actually get to know people. But the best part of Beaufort is being surrounded by the great outdoors.”
The Rising Tide Society, a national organization that connects creative entrepreneurs, was part of Laura’s journey into creating her own jewelry business. She says, “I was commuting to Charleston for meetings one evening a month for six months, and then a chapter got started in Beaufort, which I now lead.” As for the future, Laura says, “I am making jewelry for self-fulfillment and to stay engaged. This time next year I will still be growing the business piece by piece, one collection at a time. My pieces will never be mass produced.”
Some of Laura’s jewelry pieces can be found at the Beaufort Art Association gallery located at 913 Bay Street in Beaufort, and at the Alderson Artisans Gallery in Alderson, WV, and online at madeinthepines.etsy.com. ‘In the Pines’ can also be found on Facebook and Instagram as madeinthepines.