Art news

Timeless fashions made with objects found during nature hikes

Story by Jaymi Heimbuch - Source: http://www.treehugger.com
Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

Artist Sara Breakfield takes her nature walks seriously. That’s because it is there, along the trails through the woods and fields, that she finds the raw materials for her artwork. Using everything from bits of shells and feathers, to seedpods and twigs, she brings home handfuls of items that she crafts into something beautiful to wear. Click through to see some of her many creations.

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

I first “met” Breakfield on Instagram because, let’s face it, that’s like the coffee shop of today’s world. We have a common love of posting photos of our herding dogs doing tricks, and I noticed that among the photos of her cattledog perched on fallen logs and balancing bouquets of flowers on her nose, Breakfield, who is @cravingsynonyms on Instagram, also posts many photos of objects found during her hikes through the woods with her dog, with notes about what she plans to turn the objects into. Curious, I looked at her Etsy shop and was amazed to find the incredible pieces of wearable art she crafts based on what she finds in nature.

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

Breakfield runs The Veiled Forest, a shop on Etsy where she sells her wares. Her tagline is “Alluring Acessories from Forest, Field, and Sky.” It is an apt phrase, considering her jewelry and hats feature everything from shells to dried flowers to feathers. And nearly everything is a found piece of nature outside her home, which all add a whimsy and timelessness to her pieces.

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

Breakfield focuses mainly on hand shaped wool hats, pin brooches, and barrettes, but she also creates some essential oil perfumes.

She also deeply considers the source of her materials. Breakfield says, “Part of my background is in herbalism, specifically wildcrafting, and we were taught before we ever pick anything and to ask our selves about a dozen questions to ensure we weren’t negatively impacting an area. For instance, I always ask myself if what I’m gathering is a major food source for some creature. Typically, I don’t pick flowers since they are a major food source for bees. Most of the flowers in my pieces are from my garden, friend’s gardens, or bouquets friends have given me. There are a few ‘weed’ flowers that I pick such as dandelions but they are typically in places around the city that get mown frequently and have an overabundance of the flowers.”

 

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

Breakfield writes of the materials found for this hat: “A hand shaped wool cocktail hat with Peacock feathers, gorgeous vintage green silk veiling, pine cone roses, and dried leaf skeletons. Peacocks, like many birds, shed their feathers towards the end of Summer so every August morning was a treat to wander out and scoop these jewels up from the ground. I’ve always wanted to make a hat with green veiling and when I found this vintage silk veiling at a local fabric store I had to get it (you’re welcome!). Every now and then I’ll come across a Deodar Cedar tree and gather as many of the fallen closed pine cones I can find, when they open they look just like little roses. I’m not sure how leaf skeletons come to be. Are they created by little bugs that just eat the middle of the leaf cells and wander off? Or maybe the leaves just naturally degrade this way and I happened upon them at just the right moment. Either way they end up looking like delicate leaf lace and I love them.”

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

Looking at breakfield’s pieces makes me not only want to think more carefully about how I dress for a nice occasion, but also how I spend my time out on trails. Looking out over the vast vistas at the summit of a hike is enjoyable, but there is so much to see a matter of feet from our eyes as well. Seeing the many beautiful things Breakfield finds while walking inspires me to pay more attention to what lays along the paths that I walk during afternoons, too. While I may not make art from what I find, I might find it is art without me even touching it.

 

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

And for this hairclip: “This piece has an amazing white speckled Goose feather and fancy chicken feather I purchased from a small backyard farmer in Oregon, found pigeon feathers, red parrot feathers I purchased from a bird sanctuary (they are naturally shed and all proceeds go to food for the birds), and a vintage lace grapevine!”

For the feathers, Breakfield goes through a meticulous cleaning process. Her work only begins when she gathers the materials — there is a long process of readying the items and creatively putting them together before a piece is ready for sale.

 

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

Breakfield’s pieces range anywhere from under $20 for pins and hairclips to $36 for broaches, to over $100 for hats, depending on the type of piece and the intricacy of making it.

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

In order to make the smallest impact on the areas where Breakfield collects materials, she considers the season and the lifecycle of the inhabitants of an ecosystem. “I try and only gather things that are already dead (in the case of shells and creatures), that have fallen (in the case of plate fungi and lichen), or that have gone to seed,” she tells me. “So during the winter I gather a lot of plants that have dried on their stalks. I use a huge variety of seed pods from this kind of gathering and I’m always sure to scatter the seeds before taking them home.”

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo  © Amy Billarz

Art by Sara Breakfield; Photo © Amy Billarz

“This whole process is a spiritual outlet for me, so remaining in tune and aware of my impact on the wild spaces I hold so dear is an important part of the finished piece,” says Breakfield.

Indeed, wearing one of her pieces not only connects you to art and beauty, but connects you to the wild and managed spaces and creatures from which the materials come. It would be impossible to hold one of Breakfield’s creations in your hand and not have your imagination turn to the possible stories and lives of wild spaces.

View more of Sara Breakfield’s creations at her Etsy shop, The Veiled Forest.

 

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