Exhibition Artist: Luana Coonen

March 23, 2021

Exhibition Artist: Luana Coonen-Pistachios

Read our interview with Luana Coonen before. She is one of seven artists in our Spring 2021 Exhibition 'Built to Last'. Featuring artists that incorporate sustainable and ethical practices in their studio work and material sourcing. Much like Pistachios, these artists are Built to Last. 

 CLICK HERE to shop the other artists in 'Built to Last' 



Q: Where did you study Jewelry/Metalsmithing and where?

A: California College of the Arts (in Oakland CA)


Q: What inspires your work?

A: I am heavily influenced by botany, anatomy, and astronomy, as well as the curves and aesthetics of Art Nouveau


Q: Do you have a favorite piece you've made?

A:  The Connections of Us All (silver, 14k, acrylic, polycarbonate, lily of the valley)



Q: What made you want to start making jewelry?

A: I actually randomly took a jewelry class in College because I was not enjoying my graphics design major and wanted to try something more hands-on. It was love at first sight!


Q: What is your favorite process? Why that one over others?

A: I love fabrication, but in particular soldering (which is heating up elements with a very hot torch and getting them to fuse or solder together in just the right placement/at just the right temperature). I think I love it because it feels the closest to alchemy, and you really have to tune everything out, let the world melt away and just focus on one precise topic. I also love fine-tuning my understanding of fire and how to control heat.


Q: Who is your favorite artist/who do you wear?

A: Oh my oh my, what a question. My favorite artists for many years now is Julia Turner, for her use of textures and alternative materials (and great design sense). I own a ring of hers I adore, but my CURRENT favorite wear are Sahara Ridge Hoops by ladha (by Lindsay Knox). They work so well with a mask and I wear them almost every day! Pre-pandemic favorite earrings are by pistachios artist Jera Lodge.

Sahara Ridge Hoops

 Earrings by Jera Lodge



Q: Is there an artist on your personal wishlist that you hope to own one day?

A: Anthony Lent, I've met him and looked at his whole jewelry line, I just can't pick out which piece I want!


Q: What is something you would want someone to know about your work that they might not know?

A: The reason so much of my work features natural materials is that I did not design with gemstones for the first 10 years of my jewelry career! Even though I was the lead stone-setter at a different jewelry company & knew a lot about gemstones, I didn't design with them, as using different materials intrigued me and I loved the challenge of figuring that out.


Q: When you're not making jewelry, what are you doing?

A: Hiking, backpacking, camping, or maybe on my stand up paddle board somewhere.




Q: What does sustainability mean to you/why is sustainability important to you? 

A: To me, sustainability means creating a foundation that ensures a long-long lasting and regenerative path forward for the discussed topic. I've veered away from using the word sustainable as sometimes it feels vague and too broad. Nowadays, I say my desire is to leave the smallest footprint possible while making beautiful things.


Q: What made you want to start a sustainable practice

A: I'd say it started back in high school when I was working on a research project which covered global population growth. At a very young age, I learned how the trajectory of our population was unsustainable for our planet, and it affected the way I saw things. Fast forward to college in my first jewelry class, when we were assigned to work with a gemstone, I just didn't feel right about it, not even knowing anything about the gemstone mining industry, I just didn't like the idea of a gem being torn out of the ground for our use. I instead pivoted to working with simple natural materials which required no mining. 2 years later, when at a conference, I learned of the organization Ethical Metalsmiths, and how to support mining projects which are executed in an ethical and responsible manner. My path forward was ever changed.


Q: How can the everyday person incorporate sustainable practices into their everyday life without getting overwhelmed or breaking the bank? 

A: I would say find one topic (say, your cleaning supplies) and find a resource you trust (such as a website that offers unbiased research on this topic and product links) and focus all your energy to making the slow changes there. Just change one thing at a time so you can master each change, and remember that eco/green/sustainability does not have to be branded and expensive. Also the great thing about this way of living is less truly is more.


Q: What is a piece of advice that you want to give people that want to start living sustainably but are intimidated or think it’s too complicated? 

A: Just try something for 30 days (say, not buying anything in plastic for 30 days). Though you go back to can living your normal life the rest of the year, you will probably learn a lot of tips & tricks during those 30 days and see which things you enjoyed and are easy to continue doing.


Luana Coonen

Sebastopol, CA  

Exhibiting artist in 'Built to Last' in 2021

CLICK HERE to shop Luana's collection at Pistachios

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