I met Lea a couple of years ago at a friend's place. I still remember how much she impressed me with her presence that evening - there was definitely something different about her (and no, this is not an intro to a romantic story). I had a feeling that I'd met her before and that's always a good thing on my "awesome people" radar. Not only is she a really pleasant person, she's also a jewelry designer passionate about wool, the handmade concept, and everything connected with freedom. She also always cracks me up with her humor, but that's another story. Her jewelry line "Liza Dragonfly" is a fantastic example that green and eco designs don't have to be all brown rice, baggy shirts and sandals, but can communicate a cool, fun, ethnic aesthetic. We chatted a little about her starts, ideas and superpowers.
Hi Lea, how are you? Can you tell us a wee bit about yourself?
Hi, I'm good, thank you! Sure: my name is Lea Rigler and I come from Ljubljana. I studied History of art and ethnology, but I've always liked jewelry, fibers, and design. Colors and textures fascinate me and so I've been designing this and that. One day I discovered wool, that is felt in particular - and that was it.
You came up with quite an interesting name for your brand - Liza Dragonfly. What's the story behind it?
Hee hee, well, that's nice to hear. At a certain point I wanted to open a Facebook profile for the things I make and I wanted it to be separate from my personal profile. So I decided to find some name that was nice sounding, something cool ... The names Liza, Lizzy, Elizabeth were stuck in my mind. Then I had to find the other half of the name and I thought of dragonflies with their wonderful colors. They reminded me of fairies and all the beautiful colors of wool. That is how Liza Dragonfly was born.
How did you get into creating your own jewelry line? Why did you choose wool as your primary material?
I've been creating one thing or another for all of my life and before wool I used to make jewelry with beads, but only for myself and friends. Then one day I noticed this beautiful jewelry made of wool (or felt) in a book that I had borrowed from the library and it was love at first sight. I had to try it myself, so I first bought two packages of wool for felting, I checked the instructions on YouTube and got started. At the beginning it was awful, my felt balls were a mess. But in time I got the hang of it. Then my friends saw what I made and I gave them a piece or two and I was very happy that they wanted to wear them. Later their colleagues saw my work and they wanted to have it too. So, it all started very spontaneously. Wool ... Well, I love wool. I love every sort of wool - pulls, gloves, hats, jewelry, you name it. It's a soft, warm material and the colors of it are just wonderful. It's also a natural material and has a soul.
Which materials (besides wool) and techniques do you use to create your pieces?
I use different beads that I sew on the wool and also for other elements, for example the earrings. I plan to use some interesting shells ... So whatever captures my imagination. I use only techniques of wet felting at the moment. I've tried dry felting, but I'm a little bit afraid of the needles, hee hee. But I'll work on that too - as a complementary technique. You can make beautiful little details using dry felting. I also hope to try some nuno felting. That is a technique for making shawls, clothes, and so on. It uses the silken base on which you then add wool. Combed wool gets intertwined with the silk and you get nice, interesting combinations.
Can you describe the process of transforming the raw wool into the pieces you finally use in your jewelry?
Oh, you see, I don't do it! I wanted to at the beginning, but then I've realized that it would took me too long to learn that. I even got some raw wool, straight from the sheep farm, but I realized that I just wanted to work with it, not to make it. It's quite an art to do that, so a big bow to the artists who clean and color raw wool themselves. I buy wool that is already prepared, nicely colored, and combed ... Maybe I'll try it one day, but for now I'm too impatient to materialize my ideas. And I have so many of them, but never enough time. I have a little black notebook with ideas and no idea when I'll be able to work on them, yikes!
Who do you think are the ideal Liza Dragonfly customers? Whose souls do you imagine rocking your woolly creations?
Hum ... Let me think. Liza is on the market for about 6 or 7 years and women of all ages have liked it. From little girls, young mums, students, to elderly ladies. But some women like the material and some don't, just like with every other material. It's surely a happy, colorful jewelry that women like to put on and they tell me that they feel better when they are wearing a certain piece. Sometimes a necklace or earrings are a gift to an unsuspecting mum or a colleague at work and they might have never bought it themselves, but since they got it they've started to wear it and they love it. I'm happy to hear that to some of them a piece of my stuff was their "lucky" piece. In general, they are probably women who like colorful jewelry and are not too classical, and like freedom of expression. Some pieces are more ethnic inspired, so also women who like to explore, who are travelers, free spirits. Some pieces are more gentle, more romantic, too.
What does the concept of handmade mean to you?
It means a lot. For myself, I like to buy handmade products and I appreciate the knowing that it was made by a specific person. That makes it something special. For me it has a surplus value, a story - that is the work and the love that was put into it.
If you had to pick one superpower, which one would it be?
Wow, good question, hee hee! At this moment I think I would like to be invisible at times. But I could use any of them!
Do you have any advice for other independent makers?
Many and none. I think that you learn most in the process and with your own experiences. Depends on how you like to work, what kind of person you are. My way was to start totally spontaneously, nothing was planned, nothing pushed ... It just happened. I'm lucky that I don't depend financially on this work, it's just an additional source for me, so I'm not under the pressure that much. I also notice that I prefer to have the freedom in creating more and more. People can make an order, choose some colors or so, but not too strict ideas, otherwise it will not have that "it" factor that comes from me.
Thank you Lea for your time and answers, you rock!
Has the wool snuck up your soul too? No sweat; you can always check out Liza's Facebook page where she regularly updates it with her newest creations.