LUNA MAC-WILLIAMS / JEWELRY
Interview by Emmett Levy
Photography by Luna Mac-Williams
Luna (she/they) is a jewelry artist specializing in resin pieces. They make use of a range of manmade and natural materials, including flowers and insects.
What do jewelry and earrings mean to you?
Initially I started making them as gifts, I really love creating something for people. I wouldn't say giving gifts is my love language; I like to use all the love languages, but I love making something specific for somebody with them in mind, their aesthetic, their ethic. Jewlery is almost a little confidence boost; you know, look at me, I'm cute, and giving that to people is always lovely. Then I realized, yo I can like make money out of this. My family doesn't come from wealth so I didn't have a regular allowance or anything. And so just as my own little personal income, I started doing it in high school and not super fancy or anything but then I started experimenting more with resin and other materials and that's when it really took off, when I started to create my own look, my own brand.
I'm really really big into adornment. I'm a very anti-minimalist person. Why not more? And then everything that that means gender wise as a non-binary femme person, can I still adorn myself and perform so much femininity and embrace it and love it and be colorful and campy and goofy but still not be put into a box of what being traditionally feminine is? One of my favorite earrings was made for somebody who said, “can you make me ones that say Jesus was an anti capitalist?” I was like, “sure, yes!” I love being able to let people live out their fantasy of what they look like in their mind.
So what is your process like? Where do you source things from? How did you learn about resin?
Well okay, I literally just came from the pack windows where I got some dead bugs. These are some ladybugs and bees.
I started making bee jewelry. This whole semester, I’ve been taking a little break, because I've just been crazy busy with other stuff. But, I have flowers and stuff pressed and ready to go. I'm mostly a writer and a theatre performer. This is definitely like a side hustle but a lot of my art is about the cool little things and being like: “Yo, let me put this on a stage or put this in an earring.” When I was little, I remember reading a book about packrats and I was like, Yo, I want to be a packrat when I grow up.
What's a packrat?
Literally it's the type of rodent that just like collects shiny things and puts them into the den.
Like a magpie bird?
Yes! I want to be a magpie. And so I see something, and I envision it as an earring. I literally go on little flower raids around campus. I won't take too many things, but just one little thing from here and there. Flower earrings are my favorite to make. I love the idea of preservation, ethical preservation or sometimes, you know, the ephemerality of a moment is beautiful, but sometimes holding on also is-- it's about finding that line. And I'm really interested in the tenderness and the intimacy of it alI. I bring all these ideas to life, and trim everything by hand.
Other people resonate with things I don’t necessarily understand, and that also is beautiful. I just sold a pair of bay leaf earrings to somebody who's Russian, and they're very big about Russian cuisine. It meant a lot to them. I did not know any of that. But, I'm so glad that I thought bay leaves are cool because that object impacted a person.
What artists or fashion icons or human beings have inspired your creative journey and your style?
I mean, so many. I come from a very artistic neighborhood Pilsen, a little village in Chicago, which is a Mexican immigrant community, known for the best murals anywhere, so art is just bursting from every corner. Also super underfunded and neglected by the city. Also being gentrified, which is like ugly but the stuff made by the people there, little stores bursting with shit like dolls and ceramic painted plates or frickin dresses sent from Mexico, so much stuff. That rich colorful, beautiful environment was really inspirational. Since I was young, I have really fucked with a lot of flamboyant kind of queer fashion icon people. I think of my first crush, the person that made me realize I like girls, was Janelle Monae. When I discovered her in middle school, I was like, this is it for me, the blueprint. Recently, I started getting into drag; I took a drag persona that I've been experimenting with, which is fun. I take a lot of inspiration from kings and queens and performers in the really cool shit that they do. I would also say I'm very influenced visually by writers, because I am a poet and playwright first and foremost, and people like Sandra Cisneros, Patrick Rosell, Tommy Pico. They write really beautiful visuals into their work like you are there, you feel it, you see it. I would definitely say my aesthetic is influenced by that even though it's not a visual medium, like what they invoke with their writing.
What place do you think a pair of earrings holds on a person's body?
When I see somebody with a cute pair of earrings, it's a sense of intention and care. It's a small thing, an earring you know, you can't see it from far away unless you are wearing big ones, I love big, flashy shit. It's a little message: this is me, to me, this is me to the people around you. You love yourself. Maybe you don't love yourself, but it's a little love letter to yourself. It's a sweet, little gift to yourself. We're literally little magpie people, we just want to put shiny things on ourselves. It is a very human thing to want to decorate.
How have you used your business to advocate for the causes you care about?
This summer, especially with the cannabis leaves, I thought it was such a shitty cognitive dissonance that I could make money off of this, meanwhile, there's so many people locked up in jail for having it indefinitely, that's fucked up, I don't want to profit off it. So all the proceeds from that I didn't donate to an organization because I wanted to be more aware of where the money was going, so I just sent it to people's venmos. Particularly queer, disabled, black people's venmos online that I saw. But I also hesitated because especially during the time of purchase, when everybody seemed to be posting things online and stuff like that, some people seem to be taking advantage a little bit and like building their own-- I don't want to assume anybody's intentions or get too much into that because you do what you can and you help and you use your platform. I didn't want to use it as a moment to advertise my business because even if I'm donating the profits, it's still putting attention on me. So I grappled with that for a minute. Ultimately, you have to use what you have, your tools in your arsenal for the cause, for the revolution. If part of my tools is this jewelry business, and that's a way that I can make a difference, then that's what I would do.