Handmade: Jewelry artist designs with delicate fabrics

The Detroit News
Body jewelry from the White Owl Jewelry collection.

Christina Spivak turns pieces of vintage lace into "modern romantic" body adornments that sometimes lend themselves to bohemian styling.

The Clinton Township resident started making lace jewelry in 2008, when she and her sister (Courtney Spivak of Ferndale) opened an Etsy (online) shop called White Owl. "We were doing it together under one shop, but I think because the lace jewelry is so unique, that kind of got to be the bigger part of the business." The company is now known as White Owl Jewelry. 

Christina Spivak in her work space at Post.

Spivak shops for vintage lace at resale shops and estate sales, and sometimes it's given to her by those who know about her business. "My friends and family will find lace and send it to me," she said. "I do have some sources, like textile factories, where they just have vintage dead stock. It's a lot of searching involved."

Her idea for creating jewelry using vintage lace grew out of "experimentation" and wondering what, a lace collar, for instance, would look like if it were not attached to a garment as embellishment. Could the intricate fabric be just as lovely on its own, without enhancing the beauty of a piece of clothing?

It wasn't long before she found herself "playing around" with lace textiles. "Everybody is inspired by things they see -- fashion, art (etc.). I get inspired by playing around with material -- cutting and dying the lace, and mixing two kinds of lace together," she explained. "I'm kind of inspired by everything, but for the individual pieces, I'm inspired by the material itself."

Using pieces of chain and other metal findings, she creates jewelry in the form of bracelets, necklaces, earrings and chokers. But, as someone who thinks outside the (jewelry) box, Spivak also designs flirty and unusual "chest pieces that go over the body and look a little bit like clothing, or a wearable art kind of thing."

All White Owl Jewelry pieces are one-of-a-kind and/or limited editions. In addition to its online shop at whiteowljewelry.com, items can be found locally at Rail & Anchor in Royal Oak, and Post (14500 Kercheval) in Detroit, where she recently set up a studio inside the  "open-concept retail store," known for selling handmade goods from across Michigan and beyond.

Bold ivory and brass earrings made by Spivak.

Spivak had been making jewelry in her home studio, but thought it would be "nice to be around other creative people." So far, "It's been really great" she said. Customers are able to visit her in the work space, something she finds "really inspiring." She now spends about three days a week making jewelry at Post, in addition to still doing it at home.  

Her designs tend to attract customers between the ages of 25 and 35, who like unique and very feminine pieces made by hand. "I get a lot of people from New York and Los Angeles, and I do get a lot of brides. Some have been buying for years, so the people who it really resonates with have been customers for like eight years," she said. "White Owl Jewelry looks like modern romantic, and even though it's made of lace, it's not grannyish."  

Prices start at $15 for a small pair of post earrings, and go up to $140 for a big, "involved" piece of body jewelry, while most items average around $35 each.

Spivak's work has been featured in several magazines -- namely "Southern Bride, Lucky, Hour Detroit and Little Things, which is published in China. And, online, White Owl Jewelry has been seen in Glamour magazine and the Huffington Post.

Spivak, said she has some new designs in the works that are "definitely more modern." She's already made some, which she debuted at the recent "Textile Takeover" event hosted by Post.  

Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact White Owl Jewelry at whiteowl.etsy.com, whiteowljewelry.com or on Facebook. Email: lovewhiteowl@gmail.com.