Q & A with Maker Grace Hazel of Mortar & Moon
Business Name -
Mortar & Moon
What's the meaning of your business name?
Who is Mortar & Moon?
She is both Sky and Earth.
She has one foot grounded while one hand reaches for the moon.
She is the wild child that looks like rain, who smells like sunshine and sweet surrender.
With a knowingness in her bare feet on ancient rocks and cracked earth, on wet grass, on sharp needles, on hot sand.
She is wild like that roadside flower growing where she pleases, sprouting in rowdy rows
in the creases of broken cement, filling the spaces like water.
She is the girl next door that moved away,
The midnight magnolia marauder, the flower thief, the fruit whisperer,
Bathing with bats in rivers under starless skies.
Who parts the sea
Who the moon howls at
Who the sky falls for.
mor-tar: noun /môrder/
A material used in masonry and construction to fill the gaps between blocks of stone, concrete, or brick. First made of clay and mud, mortar helped build Babylonia, lay the Egyptian pyramids, hold Ancient Greece, and create Gothic cathedrals in the Middle Ages.
Mortar is the glue that holds it all together, the binder that fills all the cracks and makes something whole and complete, with a strong hold on Earth.
moon: noun /mōōn/
The natural satellite of the Earth, visible by reflected light from the sun, orbiting around us in synchronous rotation. After the sun, the moon is the second brightest celestial object in Earth’s sky. It’s gravitational influence produces the ocean tides and the slight lengthening of the day.
Appearing like a loyal lover on a dark night when the sky feels empty and alone,
Always there, shape shifting time and assuring existence.
A familiar friend for rituals,
A wise elder to worship.
The moon, older than earth, floating above but always grounding me like glue.
Tell us about yourself and how you got started:
I am the daughter of two artists and I have always made things with my hands. I learned to weave earrings using a brick stitch from a friend ten years ago and it has been one of my favorite rituals since. The act of stringing beads puts me in a zen state that feels both ancestral and meditative. Beading teaches you many symbolic and metaphoric lessons and it gives you a final product that you can use and hold tangibly in your hands.
What are your favorite materials right now?
Japanese glass seed beads are the staple and an essential to the weaving that I do, yet I love to incorporate other materials that you typically don't see in common beaded earrings. I am excited about these certain Balinese brass beads that are hard to find and any teeny tiny gemstone beads that I can use in my stitch work. I also have a secret collection of Ni'ihau shells that appear on special pieces. Lately though, I've been working on something for you for the Collective using turquoise carved butterflies and porcupine quills. Stay tuned!
When did you decide to become a designer/artist?
I believe I have always been an artist and as a child I didn't know any other world or direction to take. It's just what made sense to me and it was the language I was taught to speak. I remember asking my mother one day while she was working in her studio as I was playing with clay, "What are you gonna be when you grow up?" I didn't see art as a job, it was our life, it was how we went about our every moment, from making art from ocean trash, to sculpting the butter at the dinner table.
I have chosen art the same way art has chosen me. My purpose as an artist is partly selfish but mostly altruistic; I need art in my life to express my creativity and because it feeds my soul, but I also feel a compulsion to share my perspective.
Although I have always made art, Mortar & Moon is a new project. After many people asked how they could find my jewelry, I decided it was time to ground the project like mortar to the moon.
Besides from creating jewelry, I am a film photographer and a printmaker, which are now weaving into the many different creative aspects of building Mortar & Moon. It’s been fun.
Were you encouraged to follow your dreams and create for a living?
I was most definitely encouraged and supported as a young person to be artistic the same way a mother encourages her child to eat food and drink water. I studied art in college and have always felt so lucky and blessed to have had the acceptance from my parents that many of my friends did not.
My parents are both artists and we sometimes make art together, whether it's an actual collaboration or an idea or a perspective. My mom is my biggest fan and motivates me daily to make art and Mortar & Moon. She always says “don’t make your living, live your making.”
Is there a single purpose that keeps you focused?
The purpose to share what I can and to connect with others through what I make.
What about your medium makes you keep going back? What makes you stick with it?
Beading can pretty much be done anywhere as long as you have a lap to work on. And because the materials are so small, it's easy to travel with and make in random places like I have throughout the years. I have often worked while traveling and when I lived in my van. The medium allows a sort of freedom that many art mediums do not provide and I love that I can work on an airplane, in a car, in a bus, on the floor, at the pool, or in bed. It’s easy to pack up, lightweight and completely free of electricity.
All of my jewelry is made by hand, often amidst a sandy blanket by the sea, or on a rainy porch in the jungle. At times my office has moved whenever the road has taken me, yet lately, I work in my studio at home on Maui.
Is there something that the world should know about you/the work that you do?
I find my creations to be very personal since it is my meditation. Naturally, I set intentions as I work, stringing spells one bead at a time, as my energy and thoughts flow from me and into my creations.
What's your biggest challenge as a maker?
I am not fond of making the same thing twice. I get so excited to try new ideas that even making the other earring to a pair seems daunting. But that is a part of the beading lesson, to slow down and to provide polarity, balance, symmetry and completion.
What's your current music rotation while creating?
I listen to a lot of different playlists created by musicians and dj friends of mine on SoundCloud: Goldcap, Crsto, Martha Van Straaten, and of course, Nicolas Jaar is always on repeat. I also tend to watch documentaries or play foreign movies with beautiful languages, like Roma, a total ASMR heaven on earth and visually stunning Mexican drama film all in black and white. It’s otherworldly.
Grace Hazel - Mortar & Moon