We have always loved the sea. How the horizon draws the eye to limitless possibility, somehow disregarding the barriers of any intervening waves, how Madame Moon smooths the surface as she cuts her nightly luminous path across tide and time, how the body becomes fully itself within its waters—alternately weightless or as slick and powerful as a seal. The path to the sea is always studded with magic: watery gems of sand-smoothed glass, winking pastel coquinas, glimmering mother of pearl, or other storm-tossed treasures await you at the wrack line if you know how to look and make the time and space to do so.

For Kate Jones (the founder, precious metalsmith, and salt-kissed dreamer at Ursa Major—a beloved jewelry line made in Maine and NYC) the sea is a messenger. From her childhood aboard a sailing ship—called, of course, "Ursa Major"—to her current rock-ledged seaside aerie on the sunrise coast of Maine, Kate finds herself most open to receiving both lightning-bolt inspiration and serenity within striking distance of cool waters. We caught up with Kate to talk about the freedom and joy of making space to create, the power of going barefoot, and the beauty of everyone carving out their own story, wave by wave. 


Kate wears the Maya Turtleneck and Kate Jean





Jewelry, both as an object and as an extension of the body, is about lived stories. What are the kinds of stories you like to tell with your work?

I always say that while my design process starts with a specific inspiration, the goal is always to leave the end result more obtuse and in doing so, it leaves the piece open to interpretation by others.  They can become these pieces which strike multiple chords, giving a beautiful sort of room for everyone to make their own connection.  Nothing gives me greater joy than hearing people say "I love how this piece reminds me of...."  The connection is truly what binds it all and the beauty is everyone making their own stories.


"Heirloom" can mean so many different things. What does it mean to you?

A treasure you hold dear, in which you find so much meaning and love that the thought of passing it on one day feels you with joy.  It's something to be cherished for generations...


How do you maintain a connection with the natural world? Does this inform the space between work and art?

I made the decision to move back to Maine (where I mostly grew up) a little over three years ago, and it was for this exact reason.  Running my own business while living almost 10 years in an urban environment had become too much.  Too much stimulation, and too impossible to not compare yourself against the "success" of others, being shoulder to shoulder with them daily.  I needed the ocean, once again, on my doorstep.  I needed a garden.  So I take runs along the ocean, swim in our river, and during the garden season I start and end my day there.  I spend as much time as possible barefoot outside.




Kate wears the Maya Turtleneck and Eva Jumpsuit



Kate wears the Wilma Pullover and Dot Hankie.







What is your favorite water to be in?

Salt water, full stop.


What is your studio space like? How does your physical space for creating affect how you work?

It's a mess, but it's amazing.  I've never been a clean artist, but in all fairness, my husband and I are still in the process of completing the studio.  It's my dream studio and the thought of having it is still a bit surreal after all of these years.  We built it ourselves along with the help of a few good friends.  I moved in in January and the difference has been astounding.  We filled it with light—and largely diffused light for the sake of seeing the work and the materials clearly.  There are flat files for storing my hundreds of stones for inlay, a room specifically for wet, dirty work, and a woodstove I adore and use for everything from curing epoxy to heating up my lunch.  The view overlooks the cove, which is the very same cove I grew up on.  I feel completely free and happy in there.  And my husband jokes that it's my houses most of my prized possessions.  It is a true extension of me.

What is your favorite thing about the sea?


It's hard to say whether my experience on the sea has shaped my feelings for it, or if the sea has shaped my experience. I've spent such formative moments on it. But I think above all else is the vast blue serenity of it. It calms me like nothing else. 



Find Kate's work here and follow her on Instagram here. Photos by Jay Carroll.






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