27 March 2014

An interview with Mia from Mia Illuzia and Spirit Carrier

Mia is a long-time friend and a fellow traveller on the path of Life. That's how I know her. Now it's your turn to get to know her and her beautiful work! Enjoy!


1. Tell us about yourself and about your business

I’m a Finnish artist currently living and working in the UK. I create jewellery and accessories with natural crystals. My work most often includes raw gemstones, with references to aspects of crystal healing. I also make artistic yoga meditation malas with gemstones, inspired by ancient Tibetan Buddhist prayer beads. My “Wisdom Keeper” range includes leather accessories such as talisman pouches, tribal style iPad cases and decorative book pendants. My pieces could be referred to as ‘alternative jewellery’ as I rarely use metals in my work, preferring the techniques of knotting and braiding with various cords and fibres instead. I make everything painstakingly by hand, and mostly all my pieces are unique and one-of-a-kind, not multiples. I sell my work online through my own website at www.miailluzia.com .

2. How did you end up doing the work you're doing now?

 Originally I went to university in Finland to study art pedagogy, to become an art teacher for secondary school level. I delved into printmaking, textile printing, mosaics, sculpture, painting and photography. I had also mounted a couple of solo shows of my water colour paintings before embarking on an exchange year in the UK. Studying art in London, I discovered contemporary design bookbinding. I got very passionate about it at the time and decided to swap for a bookbinding degree in England instead, and never returned to Finland. I consequently worked as a book artist for about fifteen years.

 My bookbinding years taught me an enormous amount about the technical aspects of the craft. The meticulous traditional skills involved honed my abilities with tools and materials. I grew up technically very finicky. High quality craftsmanship was permanently placed highest on my list. But I never particularly enjoyed the repetitive technical stages in making leather-bound books. I endured them, but my heart was still most in the sculptural, artistic book works that dealt with the symbology of the book form from the point of artistic expression. After all, I had come to bookbinding from a creative background. Contemplating the visual elements, their relationships, textures, colours and sculptural arrangements in my work was what I wanted more of.

 Moving to the Middle East brought a change. Bookbinding materials weren’t readily available and had to be brought in from Europe. It all got quite complicated. I had already felt a few inner rumblings about wanting to explore further creative paths when, in 2009, I was finally completely swept away by my long-standing fascination with crystals. I had always been collecting stones, but suddenly all these amazing crystals and minerals just placed themselves on my way, like wanting me to take notice. I was hooked. A wish took shape within me that I’d like to be able to wear some of these crystals, and not leave them behind when I go out of the house. I had never been particularly interested in mainstream jewellery at all. My longing was all about wearing the crystals themselves, not about jewellery. And as serendipity would arrange it, I came across a lovely lady and her wonderful crystal macramé pendants on a local art market. She also taught workshops so attending one was another step to the direction that I was strongly pulled to at the time. I think it was working with my crystals that also helped me through the following difficult transitions to bring me where I am now. So now I’m exploring stones and making them into personal talismans for others who might benefit from what I think of as “jewellery with a deeper meaning”.


3. What is your favourite tool and material?

 When it comes to tools, I nowadays use so few compared to my bookbinding days. My fingers, my eyes and my intuition are the most precious tools for me at the moment. Occasionally I still use leather, especially in my ‘Wisdom Keeper’ range which includes talismanic iPad cases in the style of ancient tribal leather pouches. Making those requires me to punch holes one by one, for about 500 holes per case, and for that my best friend is a Japanese drill punch. Fantastic tool. I had a customer once come in the art studio and he saw the drill punch on my desk. I let him try it out and he went on and bought one, just to keep on punching paper, as apparently it was as satisfying as popping bubble wrap!
Among the stones I work with, occasionally some crystal individual rises up as an enormous favourite. Almost so luminous that I delay working with it out of fear of maybe not doing justice to it. But then, eventually the time is just right, and elements fall in place. At this moment I seem to be really drawn to Carnelian, which I’ve felt quite indifferent towards before. All elestials, skeletal crystals, never cease to fascinate me, and the peculiarly shaped flint stones I find on my visits to the beach always fire up my imagination. Crystals and stones aside, I like natural textiles and fibres. Among my recent loves are unbleached sari silk and cotton lace.

4. What are you grateful for in this moment?

I’m very grateful that the transitioning period of the past couple of years has turned out well after all, and that my four decades of life and creative making has shaped into such a fulfilling way of working. I’m grateful for all the incredible individuals who get in contact with me, who often tell me their own crystal stories, and who resonate with the crystals that come to them via my art studio. And the more I concentrate on pinpointing what I’m grateful for, the more the list seems to grow – I could just keep on going now! I’m grateful for a friend who had the courage to step onto a new creative path, as that also made my own inner whispers to that direction more audible. Also, every single day when the sun shines is an incredibly uplifting feeling for me. Having moved from a country where the sun “always” shines back to one where you’re lucky if it does, I certainly do appreciate it. Not that I mind rain, but really, to see the sun’s rays never ever fails to make me happy.


5. Are you preparing something at the moment that will soon get out there in the world - something you already want to share?

It feels like I’m always short of time to develop ideas into physical objects at the pace I’d like to. So many new thoughts remain at the stage of inspiration in my mind for way longer than I’d like them to. I’ve had a range of stone talisman pendants in mind for the past two years already, something that I nurture and enjoy at the level of an idea, to the point that it even seems scary to attempt to make them in case reality would turn out to be less than the idea I’ve built up in my mind. But I’m all the time preparing something, trying out and testing material combinations and making new discoveries. I do intend to concentrate more on the very organic, ecological pendants that I’ve recently been making. Incorporating eco-plant dyeing methods, naturals silks, cotton lace and linen into my jewellery range. This relates to the crystal healing aspect of my work, strengthening my offering to Reiki therapists, healers and those individuals who prefer their jewellery without any metals for example.

6. Who is your hero, source of inspiration or idol?

Just last week I read a great definition of what a hero is.  In Christopher Reeve’s words “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” I’m incredibly inspired by a multitude of artists, who keep showing up in their studio, keep on making thoughtful work that’s important to them, and bring more beauty into the world. The natural world is always an endless source of inspiration for me, and especially the rugged seascapes of my native Finland where I try to return to recharge my creative batteries once a year.

7. Do you have other things you're passionate about, next to your work?

When I still worked as a bookbinder and was asked this, my eyes would lit up and I’d say: ”Crystals!” Now I work with crystals and still find it difficult to think of any other answer! Although, earlier this year I did come across something that has turned into a bit of a passion too. I attended a marvellous eco plant dyeing workshop taught by the textile artist India Flint. Bundling up silks and cottons to be magically transformed in the dye bath has become quite addictive to me since! I would also passionately want to live by the sea again, having grown up by one. If that dream turns into reality one day, then I’ll be passionately beach-combing for the rest of my life.

This interview was originally published on my website on 26th November 2012.


13 March 2014

What is going on, an update.

For Nina's Nature it has been a difficult winter.
Now, with the spring sun peeking in, I'm ready to draw conclusions and to share them with you.

I - or anyone else making or selling cosmetic products within the EU - am not allowed to sell my products before they've gone through various tests in labs (EU law).
The tests are (very) expensive and I've had trouble in finding the right 'match' in order to get them done. I started with local companies, looked abroad, cut down the collection (to reduce costs of the tests) and searched the options of universities and organisations. I got a lot of turn-downs, because "the perfumes are too complex".

At last I had found a possible match, a freelance toxicologist, who might be the one to help me lift Nina's Nature back on track again - I was so excited!

But then I encountered this blog article. To summarize: natural perfumery is endangered by this law. Because 1-3% of the EU-residents have ever had, or might get an allergic reaction from some of the essential oils used in natural perfumery, many essential oils would be severely restricted. The law is being stricter through time, and it looks like this trend is only going to continue.
To make things more absurd, "the data used to determine the allergen potential of these molecules is scientifically and statistically unsound".

I have been angry, frustrated, and am VERY angry still.

This adventure in legislation-land has opened my eyes to how politics can be lobby-driven (read: greedy financial profit hunters are behind the 'advices'), illogical and absurd.

Natural ingredients - we're talking plants here - have been in use for food and medicine throughout human history, and they have been used for cosmetics and perfumery for thousands of years.
And now suddenly we should all buy man-made synthetic stuff, just because it fills the pockets of the hotshot at the top of the ladder? No thank you.

So, I'm not allowed to sell my stuff, because I won't invest all my savings into lab tests, with an uncertain outcome of the law-developments in the future (and I would probably have to compromise the 100% natural-promise at some point in the future - that would go against the very founding principles of Nina's Nature!) - it doesn't seem like a good plan to me.
Sadness. It's my creation I'm letting go of, built from scratch and it bloomed. Unfair.
What comes next?

I have an idea of the direction I want to go in, but am not yet clear about the route. The transition will probably be a bit of a rough ride, but it's going to be an adventurous journey!
Please take some time to read the gratitude-list here below, there are a lot of bright souls I'm grateful to - and you can visit the websites of the majority of them through the links.
Let me point you to the direction of the wishscrolls.
I'm brooding on the idea of a book about natural perfumery, with recepies of Nina's Nature scents. And more...

Thank you for reading!



Thank you, dear customers, for having been a customer of Nina's Nature!! Without you there would have been no business, and you have been so very inspiring - a true joy to communicate and develop new things together!

A list of names follows...fantastic, kind people who have helped me in this challenging time (some of them have businesses, in which case there's a link to them). Whole-hearted thanks to everyone, and also to those whom I've now accidentally forgotten to mention - I will add you to the list as soon as I notice!

Thank you...

...Annemarie, Asseia, Désiree, Edith, Evelien, Frank, Giel, Hafid, Ingrid, Job, Karin, Mariëlla, Mia, Michael, Mirjam, Rachel, Saskia, meneer Schouten, Sita, Sophia en The Nose, and also all the closed doors, people who scared me out of my wits with their doomscenario's, ignorers and absurd quotes for pushing me into a new direction.

I was determined to leave no stone unturned in the search for a good way out, with my perfumes. But sometimes even the most stubborn ones (i.e. me) awaken to the realization that perhaps I can spend my time, energy and money better.

In hoping for a beautiful adventure.