Vanessa Miller aka @blackqueermagic (she/they) is a full-time jewelry artist based out of her home studio in New York, where she also teaches jewelry making classes to other emerging artists. She is completely self-taught and explores all different jewelry modalities. She is experienced in wire wrapping, leparing, silver and copper smithing, metal forming and more.
Last month, we sat down with them to hear the story and process behind one of their latest pieces— an engagement ring made from a client’s broken Chakrub. See the video of them creating the ring here.
What drew you to jewelry making as your main expression for art and creation?
I’ve always been interested in jewelry but I really started getting into it when I left my last full-time job. I needed a break from the hustle and stresses of life, so I quit my job to take some space. I started what I call my “passion path”. I spent time traveling and felt really called towards the energy of creation. So I tapped into different kinds of art. Jewelry really stuck out to me and I fundraised to get my first batch of supplies. I started with a method of jewelry making called wire-wrapping and just really let the passion and act of creation guide me from project to project.
When did BQMNY (@blackqueermagic) really start to take off?
I was doing an internship in Oakland, CA and I would regularly create jewelry for the community. People were incredibly encouraging and it made me realize I was doing something that people were willing to support me for. I moved back to New York shortly after my internship, but the energy of their support stuck with me. I put all my effort into building the business around my jewelry. I attended conferences and built a following. My hard work paid off, because soon I was able to retain clients and form my life around my art. And that’s been the story for me ever since.
What is your process like before you sit down to create a piece?
Creating jewelry has a spiritual connection for me. It’s almost like a sacred process where I lovingly tap into my own creativity and artistry. It’s incredibly healing for me to see that I can create something beautiful with my own hands. Before I begin a project, my home needs to be cleansed. Especially when working with crystals, but genuinely for all pieces, I am very conscious to ensure I’m in good spirits and energy before I begin handling the piece. Sometimes I burn sage around me to cleanse my workspace. There’s even been times where I won’t touch the piece for a day or two until I feel really confident that I’m holding high energy and operating from a good place. It’s very important to me that not only does my client receive a beautiful piece, but that the integrity behind the energy is there as well.
What crystal and materials are you most drawn to work with?
I’m very drawn to labradorite. It’s a beautiful crystal that comes in different shades of greens, blues, and oranges. It’s also very reflective of the light. I just love its properties. It’s known to aid in transformation, growth, and help you move through ebbs and flows of life. This last year in particular I’ve felt drawn to it, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence!
How did the idea of turning a Chakrub into an engagement ring form?
I was accepting custom work back in December and a new client reached out to me over email. The client explained over email that she and her partner shared a broken Chakrub and she wanted to use the Chakrub to turn into an engagement ring. Engagement rings are some of my favorite pieces to create and the fact that the crystal being used already held the love and energy of the couple involved was super exciting for me. From the moment I received the Chakrub in the mail, I could feel the love and connection and energy from the couple in my hands. It was truly beautiful.
Turning a Chakrub into an engagement ring is a really intimate piece of work. Did the creation process of this piece feel different from other pieces you’ve designed?
I really did enjoy the process of creating this piece— the intimacy aspect of it was special. And it’s definitely something I’d love to do more of. After tuning into the love and history of the couple, I researched the properties of rose quartz, which is what their Chakrub was made from. This really helped me ground and feel like I was incorporating the energy and history into the piece. I wanted to preserve as much of the Chakrub as I could to send back to them, so I took many steps to ensure I took only the amount of crystal that I needed. It took a little over a month to create the piece, which is a quicker turnaround for a custom piece. But I really focused on the work everyday and poured a lot of energy and love into creating the design. In the end, the client was really happy with the work and the engagement was a success. It was such a cool and loving story all around.
What has doing this kind of work taught you about yourself?
Doing this kind of work has actually taught me discipline. A balance between discipline and intention. I create out of my studio apartment. I have broken crystals lying around everywhere. Some days I’m sweeping and clearing my home and space like crazy. Some days I roll out of bed in my robe and go straight to work. It’s just what the day calls of me. But I’m most committed to the art. I work with respect and discipline because that’s what my pieces deserve. And I’m happy to let the art lead me where it wants to go.
Vanessa’s work can be found on their website (BQMNY.com) and on their Instagram (@blackqueermagic).
They are currently taking on client work, including custom pieces made from Chakrubs. To contact them directly, they can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org