Upon looking at Oakland-based brand Watersandstone’s nature-inspired jewelry, it’s easy to believe that the designer behind the line is a beach bum — and we mean that in the best way possible. Washed out colors, organic shapes, and hand-forged metals with a soft, natural texture are a few of the consistent details that give this fact away. As it so happens, creator Amy Morrell is indeed a California girl through and through.
Born and raised in Southern California, Morrell first moved to Oakland to attend California College of the Arts. She found her way into jewelry design by initially exploring other mediums. Her lifelong love of the coast and beachcombing for treasures combined with her passion for creating art inevitably led to the creation of her jewelry line, and Watersandstone has become the perfect marriage of a bohemian spirit and minimalist, wearable design.
Besides working on her jewelry collection, Morrell is a mom to two young boys and teaches fashion illustration at her alma mater. Somehow, she found time to invite us into her lovely home to tell us more about her line, herself, and — possibly most importantly — her go-to dining destination in Oakland.
How would you describe Watersandstone's aesthetic in just three words?
Mystical Power Pieces!
Your pieces have such a beachy sensibility without being overtly bohemian. Is that a conscious influence?
I love the beach! I grew up on the coast of California, so it's always been part of my life.
I'm a real beachcomber at heart; I love digging through the sand and looking for beautiful stones or glass. It's part of what inspired me to start making jewelry in the first place.
I'm inspired by finding the balance in things that appear to be opposing in nature.
What else inspires your designs, whether it be in the landscape or otherwise?
I'm inspired by finding the balance in things that appear to be opposing in nature. There's a line where they can come together, and I like playing with that. As a medium, jewelry offers so many avenues to explore the concept of balance; ancient and modern, tough and gentle, warm and cool, delicate and bold — are all themes I've used in my work. It's about things that on the surface create a dichotomy, and finding a place where they can meet peacefully, still honoring the nature of each one.
There is also an element of surprise that comes with the creative process that I find really inspiring. Sometimes I'll start with a particular idea that I've drawn out, then when I go to actually make it, I'll realize the design is impossible, like the chain won't hang the way I thought or the metal won't create the shape I had intended. Those surprises are where things get exciting, because they force me to keep an open mind and work with whatever comes up in the process.
What's a piece you dream of creating but haven't just yet — and why?
I also do some work as a fashion Illustrator. I spend a whole lot of time looking and thinking about the way fabric moves and drapes. I'm totally comfortable capturing that movement in my drawings, but I want to find a way to capture that same feeling in metal. I have a lot of ideas about metal as fabric, and making pieces based on that. I haven't done it yet because I haven't completely figured out how to do it in a way that will actualize my vision. It's coming! Just not quite there yet.
Fill in the blanks.
If I could get a piece of jewelry on any famous person, it would be ________.
This a tough one. I guess ultimately I just want my jewelry on people who connect with it. I try to put a lot of positive energy into each piece, so I'm happy and satisfied if that really resonates with someone.
You can never go wrong with a ________.
Very awesome TV series and a pint of ice cream at the end of a long day.
My favorite place to grab a good meal in Oakland is _______.
Ramen Shop! It's the best.