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My Favorite Things: Rosa Killips and her handmade jewelry


Rosa Killips and her handmade necklace.

It started as a child when I began fooling around with fallen chestnuts and any little shiny thing I could find to put together. I really liked it, but forgot about it as I became an adult.

In the last 10 years, I began again to make jewelry for myself. As I fooled around with learning, I took lots of classes about it and made so much jewelry.

I didn’t know what to do with it all so I decided to sell it. Almost every single piece sold.

I never thought to make a business of it. I knew making jewelry means so much more than having bling to wear at work. First of all, it puts me in a meditative state when I’m creating. I love the tactile part of it. I love the smoothness, bumpiness of the beads and the little clicky noises when they bump together.

As I was making it and developing my style, I realized the style is really my life, because the colors I chose were related to things that I did growing up.

It also became a reminder of all the great memories I had growing up. I’ve always been very involved in my Mexican-American culture.

I used to dance in our little folklore festivals with a whole costume on of jewelry. Some of that jewelry represents this, so I like to keep my history close to me while I’m working.

Making this jewelry is also like making a political statement because I make jewelry I consider to be preservative of native cultures. Whoever takes this is going to be preserving something representative of this culture.

I just made a new piece. It’s a pendant that’s pretty big. It is named after “Malinche,” the translator for Aztec Emperor Montezuma and Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. She knew her native language Nahuatl or Aztec and was the interpreter between the two rulers. I found a sketch of her from the codexes. The pendant is a native style bird wings and the face in the middle is a picture of her magnified with a little glass dome bead.

It has a brown leather chain with complimentary beads on it. It is very much a statement about women and about the conquest of the day. I really like it because it tells a story.

As I create more pieces, they reminded me of people. I began to think about those people as I’m creating. They became acquaintances and friends. When I give a piece away, it is like a friend I’m letting go to go to someone else’s house.

(This interview was edited and condensed by Dennis Burck. If you have a recommendation for “Favorite Things,” please email dennis@lansingcitypulse.com.)


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