If you are searching for the sort of jewelry that looks like you entered outer space, reached out, and grabbed something floating through the galaxy, then look no further. Starr Miller, the founder and maker behind Pieces of Starr, creates surreal, gorgeous pieces that will convert you into a trendy space babe in no time.
Residing as one of the in-house makers at Citizen Supply, Starr hammers, extrudes, and plays with fire to create slice rings, starburst earrings, and celestial chokers. We photographed her working in the studio and picked her brain on what it's like to be a maker in Atlanta, her passion for jewelry, and taking the leap into starting her own business.
At what point did metalsmithing stop becoming just a hobby and turned into a full-fledged gig?
I asked my mom for a metals 101 class for Christmas in 2013—2 months later I started building my studio piece by piece in the unfinished basement of my house at the time. I quit my job 6 months later and it became a reality that jewelry was my form of income—and my career.
What are some valuable lessons you learned while transitioning from the corporate world to a small business owner?
People are cooler, better, nicer, and more authentic. The people I surround myself with are fulfilling and make me strive to work hard, be a good human, and we build off of each others creative power and skills. I don’t think I would ever have said that in the past working in a large company.
What about designing and creating jewelry is most important to you? Why did you choose this craft over any other?
Integrity and authentic design, hands down. I go with my gut motif and design. Too often people search outward and it's actually better to search within oneself for that last drop of inspiration. Also, true and just materials, appropriate price points for those materials, and my labor.
I chose this craft because it is the perfect combination of creativity and architecture / engineering / problem solving. I'm building tiny, beautiful structures that must be strong in design. Plus I mean come on—it's sparkly and pretty! I take pride in knowing the chemistry, geometry, physics, and the history of my craft. The amount of knowledge and new methods are endless. I have a lifetime of education ahead of me and I am so stoked about that.
How does Atlanta foster a creative working environment?
It has no ego—all of the creatives I've met are hard working, down to earth unicorns. They'll connect you, learn from you, teach you, and lift you up whenever they get the chance. Being a part of the Citizen Supply family has shown that to me 100%. I am so freaking happy to be in the epicenter of amazing people in this city.
If someone were to put on your jewelry and then be instantly transported, where would they end up?
Where I’d want to end up: in a small Spanish bar, contently and happily alone with tapas and sketch book, on a warm afternoon in the streets of Barcelona—with a Spanish guitar playing in the background.
bonus: starr's jewelry tips!
TIP NO. 1: If you're buying an expensive piece of jewelry (over $400), it needs to be a pure metal on the base with a hallmark stamp—otherwise you're overpaying for what is probably gold or silver plated brass & fake stones that are glued in (which is crap).
TIP NO. 2: Jewelry cleaner should be your LAST resort. It's so harsh on metals and fragile stones—it's like cleaning your skin with Clorox. Most good, mass produced jewelry gets an industrial strength clear coat for protection. Jewelry cleaning solution strips that coat away making the metal more likely to tarnish in a moist condition/life wear. Ever wondered why your sterling silver jewelry is turning dark? Sterling silver is not fine silver, hence it contains some copper which oxidizes in the presence of moisture and turns dark. BEST PRACTICE: get a polishing cloth, available in the same area as jewelry cleaner in the store (or here on Amazon—Sunshine is the best brand). These cloths have a compound and wax in the fabric that polish and protect. It also polishes away tarnish to bring back a shine/luster. If you have to use jewelry cleaner, follow up afterwards with the polishing cloth.
To meet Starr, check out her jewelry, and hear more about her story, come by the store to say hello! For more features of our favorite makers, DIY tips, & Atlanta culture - stay tuned!