Many artists speak of “the muse” or the inspiration that flows through them when they are in the process of creating. Some also speak of getting out of the way and allowing the creative process to lead them toward a finished product. Annie Band Jewelry is an extraordinary example of this. Band is an artist and wildlife biologist who listens to the muse and has allowed her passions to lead her to her life’s calling.
She has been creating art, jewelry and finding treasures in nature since she can remember. Her happiest memories were spent in the woods behind her childhood home and from a very young age, she knew she wanted to work with animals.
“When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer: a herpetologist (a zoologist who focuses on amphibians and reptiles) or a veterinarian,” Band said. “I guess, I was always drawn to amazing creatures that were demonized like snakes and bats.”
Her passion for science always coexisted with her love of art. Amidst her musings in the woods, she often collected wounded creatures in hopes to revive them back to health. When she did spend time indoors, she would microsculpt. “My mom still has all these tiny animal sculptures I made when I was eight or nine,” she says. “I look at them now and chuckle.”
She was an award-winning poet while in college and she made jewelry, primarily beaded, which she sold mostly to friends. She earned her Bachelors degree studying pre-med and went on to earn a Masters of Science in Wildlife Biology. When she finished grad school in 1996, she ended up in the Peruvian Amazon working with bats. She got hooked. Based in Jackson Hole and working as an interpretive naturalist and teaching experiential education at the Teton Science School, Band spent the next 12-13 years traveling to and from the Cayman Islands involved with bat population issues.
Band’s full-time commitment to science began to wane when she became a mother in 2002. An amalgamation of all of her passions emerged when she found herself more and more interested in wanting to physically make her jewelry rather than put it together. Inspired by her wildlife collection of feathers, skulls and bones, she started sculpting with metal clay. She found herself using talons and bones as molds or using specimens to make miniature models. She also pressed leaves or feathers to create texture into the pieces.
So passionate and connected to the power of nature, Band realized that her jewelry pieces were holding an energetic resonance that related to the physical animal inspiration. She took this to another level, consciously making her jewelry into talismans, objects that are believed to have magical powers. She began integrating her interest in human virtues—those attributes that all religions and traditions seem to share—like respect, courage, patience, determination, and self- reliance by sculpting or etching symbols and/or inserting quotes or sayings of ancient wisdom into her pieces. “We all have some of these virtues that we’d like to strengthen,” said Band. “I recognized that my jewelry could o er support or healing in that process.
“In general, all human cultures across vast reaches of time have shared this fundamental imperative to adorn themselves. I believe that the deep rooted need to adorn oneself is for expression as well as protection,” she said. “Being human isn’t always that easy. We can wear things that help us feel more powerful or support us where we might not be as strong.”
Band’s process of creating jewelry comes in two ways. Often she is approached by someone who admires her jewelry for its unique beauty and extraordinary craftsmanship, but once she has gotten to know the customer, she can help them identify what animal or symbol will be most supportive for them. Other times, she finds that the creative process just moves through her and she is inspired to make a piece because it is calling her to bring it into form. “The cool thing about this is that the person who is attracted to the piece may be completely clueless to the energetics of it,” she said. “The coming together of a piece with a person is often shockingly powerful. I begin to explain all of the attributes, and the client is awed because it is exactly what she needs.”
Now a full-time, award-winning jewelry maker, Band seems to have found her own needs being satisfied by the energetic force of her creative process. She has evolved and, like her jewelry that combines symbols and characteristics from nature, she has integrated all of the pieces of herself and figured out a way to share all of these elements with others.