Liv & B Brings Meaning to Jewelry
Angela Martin’s Designs Reflect Her Focus on the Mind-Body Connection
By Mara Soloway
Angela Martin’s energetic and upbeat character had almost met its match in the long, dark hours of Alaskan winters. It was there she and her native-born husband, Shannon, 45, lived for 10 years and where they began their family; daughter Alivia is now 11 and son Brennan is 15. But, just like she does with most challenges, Angela, 44, found a creative solution that stirred her soul and lit her artistic fires. In the dark hours, she began hand-crafting jewelry. Each piece is a labor of love.
By now, 10 years since she started her business and through subsequent moves with her family to California, Colorado and finally to Katy, Angela is still energized about making each piece of jewelry individually from metals and gemstones that she has personally chosen on her yearly buying trip.
“I’ve found jewelry to be my passion,” Angela said, who earned a homeopathic medicine degree in Ontario before she moved to the U.S. “Homeopathy is about mind-body balance and how everyone is unique in their own way. And that’s what I’m trying to get across in my jewelry – that everyone is special in their own way and should have their own piece of jewelry that reflects who they are.”
The artist began selling her jewelry under the name Angela Martin Designs but soon wanted a name that would be more inclusive. One day while the family was living in California, Brennan began playing with some magnetic letters while they were out shopping. “He formed ‘Liv and B’ and we thought it was perfect how it signifies our family unity and who we are. Now it’s our company name, and our slogan is ‘Liv and B your best.’ ”
Alivia also contributes by inspiring her mom with her own creative efforts, and Shannon supports Angela’s efforts 100 percent and has created several wood items out of found pallets, including the display wall in her studio.
The family has been in Katy for about a year and a half, and all agree they want to stay put here. Angela’s in-home studio has big windows and ample work and storage space for metal, beads, stones and other supplies. “This is the best studio she’s had, so we can’t leave. Things are starting to sync for her business, too,” Shannon said.
Through a connection she made at a metalworking class in Wisconsin, Angela was encouraged to submit her work to a juried artisans group that supplies items for Hollywood award ceremonies. Angela’s gold, triangular Prosperity earrings were chosen to be given to the press at the 2016 Daytime Emmy Awards. And at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 8, her Pools of Grace earrings will be gifted to celebrities in the lounge sponsored by GBK Productions.
After taking several months to set up house and get the kids adjusted, Angela is finding her groove in Katy. “I don’t want to spread myself too thin, because family comes first,” she said. She recently held a Little Black Dress party at her home, which doubled as a fundraiser for a friend who is ill. People she meets — even at the gym — are starting to ask her about her jewelry. Local retailer Scout and Molly’s Boutique has invited Angela to design jewelry for their new clothing line.
“I really like making things come to life. I’ll start sketching out the design. I cut things out of metal, I texture it, I patina it, hammer it, fire it – I do everything by hand,” she said.
Angela is prepared for when the inspiration for a new jewelry design strikes. “Sometimes I’ll get up in the middle of the night very alert, thinking ‘this is what I have to do,’ ” she said. At her bedside are sheets of paper she designed to help her capture sketches and notes about metals and stones to be used.
She has a workbench in the garage with a kiln for her pieces made of silver metal clay, which is 99.9 percent pure silver and one of her favorite media. The fire brick and the numerous soldering torches are used for adding 20-gauge sterling silver ear wires to the earring base after she shapes the wires with mallet on anvil. Sterling silver, which contains tin and copper, needs to be married with fine silver through soldering.
“You want to heat it quick enough so that there is a marriage of metals, but you don’t want to heat metal up too much,” she said. “You actually want to heat fire brick more than the metal, because if you put the flame on it will ball up. You slowly bring in the flame.” Her skill with the soldering flame gives the connection a delicate look but provides plenty of support on the back.
Another tool she uses is a rolling mill to add texture to copper. Though she does the majority of her items by hand, she occasionally uses already produced ear wires for people who like them really short. Angela also has pieces for men, such as the one she’s designing with a leather strap and a metal toggle stamped or etched with words such as “Liv and B bold.”
Her knowledge of the properties that metals and stones imbue lets her determine what unique piece would suit an individual. Pink tourmaline helps you move on from a lost love. Carnelian agate empowers women who want prosperity and confidence. Labradorite and chalcedony give off a sense of the ocean.
Angela likes to name new creations after the person who inspired them. The Charlotte collection is named after her sister. “It’s the marriage of two sister metals. Even though they’re completely different in properties, when bonded they’re stronger together,” she said. The Madelines – a large pearl on a silver hoop – are her best sellers. “I’ve just started doing collections, but I always try to change it in some way. I don’t like things to be perfect, I like things to be organic,” she said.
Fueled by caffeine and her innate creative energy, Angela is always thinking of new projects and how to evolve her business, such as holding classes in her studio. She loves getting to know new people, the camaraderie that develops, and the chance to custom-make jewelry for them, whether to match specific clothing or to memorialize someone special.
“A lot of times I don’t make the same piece twice, or I’ll do a variation of it,” Angela said. “I try to empower women and girls through jewelry. It’s not only something to make you pretty on the outside, it’s something to make you feel beautiful on the inside.”
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Visit Livandb.com to see the collection. Lifestyles & Homes readers can enter the code “livnbkaty10” to receive $10 off a $50 order.