I happened upon the work of Adina Mills while shopping at Saint Cloud, a gorgeous boutique in my hometown of Houston. It stopped me in my tracks. I’m big into jewelry, and I’d never seen anything quite like it. Her rings and necklaces are my favorite, all handmade using large crystals and molded clay, resulting in one-of-a-kind works of art that feel incredibly organic and wearable. I immediately tried on every piece and was psyched to find out she lives and works around Joshua Tree!
It’s no wonder Adina has grown a zealous following, and word is she can be hard to track down at times. Which is why I was over the moon about the opportunity to spend a morning cozied up in her desert home talking shop. (The conversation may have veered into boyfriends and music and babies, but even better!) Get to know this beautiful soul and sneak a peek inside her home and studio below.
R: So you grew up in North Hollywood. How do you think growing up in LA shaped you and your artistry?
A: I was exposed to a lot of art and architecture as a kid, and as I got older I was really into urban art, the underground art scene and hip hop. Even though my work is so natural, it also has an urban element that I know was influenced by my surroundings.
R: What was your background prior to starting your jewelry line?
A: After I finished college (I went to UC Santa Barbara and majored in Art History) I moved back to L.A. where I bounced around for a while trying to figure out my path. I was already making crystal and stone jewelry (but a different style). I enrolled in a teaching credential program at CSUN with the goal of ultimately teaching art, and it was then that I took a sculpture class where the professor introduced me to the material that I use now for my jewelry. And the rest is history!
Though my work is so natural, it also has an urban element that I know was influenced by my surroundings.
R: How long have you been doing this now?
A: A little over 13 years. It’s evolved over the years…the beginning work is different from where it is now, but it’s all a similar style. Natural evolution of an artist I suppose. Working with crystals feels so good, and I truly love what I do. The energy is amazing!
R: I love the crystal barrier around your house outside.
A: Thanks, most of the pieces outside are stones and objects that I can’t necessarily use in my wearable work, but I’ve acquired them over the years and love having them around my home.
R: Were you always really into crystals?
A: Yes, I’ve been a super nature lover since I was young. I was always collecting and picking things up. Our family would go on vacations, and I remember I loved going to the tide pools and on nature walks.
R: So you must know a ton about all the types of crystals by now, right?
A: I really just work based on feeling and energy. I’ve actually never fully studied what the books say or memorized the complete properties, but I’ve been doing this for so long that I have a good sense of the properties solely based on a deeper connection.
R: It seems more like a recent fascination.
A: Yes, I’ve noticed a lot of interest in the power of crystals in the
last few years.
R: Was there a muse who inspired you along the way?
A: At the beginning, I was creating the pieces purely for myself and my own aesthetic, but my sisters played a large role just based on their support and enthusiasm for what I was creating. I would make pieces for them for birthday and holiday gifts. The bigger, the better and the more colorful, the better.
My sister, Ashley, and I were living together around this time so she played a large role in fueling my creations. She has a huge collection of my pieces (from over the years).
R: What about your own style? Were you also always into big and bold?
A: My work was my way of expressing myself. I started creating these pieces mostly in my twenties, when I was really starting to come
into my own.
The bigger, the better and the more colorful, the better.
R: What prompted the move to Joshua Tree?
A: After living in L.A. for many years, my ex and I went motorhoming around the country for almost 5 years. Living that type of lifestyle, out in nature and big open quiet spaces (especially falling in love with the desert regions we had visited), changed my view on how I wanted to live once I settled back down. I had heard that the Joshua Tree area was quiet and peaceful and open, and had a cool community of people.
R: I can never have too many:
R: My most prized possession is:
A: A gigantic vintage native american turquoise ring (it’s about 7 inches long, it is so unbelievable!)
R: Currently on my playlist:
A: Banks, Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, and my Pandora thumbprint!
R: My drink of choice:
R: I’m dying to visit:
A: Mexico city
R: My best travel souvenir:
A: My seashells from Jamaica
R: Best-kept secret in Joshua Tree:
A: Hondo wash
R: Words of wisdom:
A: Do you!