The bohemian beauty of the Southwest is an indelible part of my existence. Partially because I was raised there, but also because of its unique energy, earthy spirit and rugged charm. When I close my eyes to daydream about the desert, this is what I see…
Breathtaking sunsets, sprinkled with soft pinks, blues and purples. The rich and unforgiving landscape that manages to be mysterious and miraculous at the same time and if I gaze just long enough, the sweeping, awe-inspiring, open spaces reveal hidden secrets. Like…
Rolling mesas rippling in and out of gorgeous red clay. Silky, brown sand snaking around dazzling, dark green cacti with beautiful, bright red blossoms and if I’m lucky, I’ll catch a glimpse of a gorgeous, fawn-colored coyote, lackadaisically sauntering its way through the wild flowers of the desert.
Just before I open my eyes, I feel the dry air, formidable wind and the sun shining relentlessly on my shoulders. Then, my daydream gives way to real life and the moment is only a memory. While I’m proud to call Miami my home, I’m still seduced by the trappings of the Southwest. Matter of fact, over the years, I’ve gravitated toward paintings, poetry and precious jewels that illuminate the very things that make my hometown so special.
I have the most amazing collection of oil paintings created and crafted by my mother in her airy art studio in Santa Fe. My favorite is an over-filled vase of dried, desert sunflowers. It’s hanging in the middle of my living room. When I’m especially homesick, I reread American author Alice Corbin’s “Red Earth: Poems of New Mexico” …she beautifully captures the eclectic feel of the Southwest with her decadent free verses.
Most importantly, as a fashionista, when I long to express my inner hippie/gypsy/bohemian side and believe me, it’s there in all its hidden glory (because sometimes television does not allow such fashion freedom,) I wear the handmade creations of South Florida jewelry designer, Terri Schindler.
I adore her pieces because, as Terri describes them: “They’re earthy, ethereal and unique,” not to mention exquisite. Her line is called “Eye Gotcha Covered” and for good reason. Her wrap leather bracelets, which she’s best known for (I own three,) slink gorgeously up my arm and go with just about anything in my wardrobe. Although her jewelry is inspired by every aspect of the Southwest, I see the beauty of the ocean in them, too.
She designs with the most amazing gemstones: amazonite, jade, onyx, jasper and combines them with buddhas, hearts, skulls and peace signs, then adds the most intricate silver and gold beading. I know a lot of people make jewelry, but there’s something spiritual about “Eye Gotcha Covered” and I think it has to do with the woman herself.
I met Terri a few years ago, when I did a story on her designs for Deco Drive and I was immediately smitten. She’s a gorgeous soul; there’s absolutely no other way to describe her. What’s more, she somehow manages to weave that special energy into the texture of her jewelry, making each piece priceless. I whole-heartedly believe in transference; maybe it’s the hippie in me, but Terri’s jewelry is the perfect example.
Terri and I talked about doing a blog for a long time, but life and work seemed to get in the way. When we finally reconnected, I knew that she had been working on some amazing new things and boy, was I right. As I write this, I’m wearing the most beautiful blueish-green buddha, adorned with gold beads, wrapped around my wrist. It’s one of Terri’s new pieces. It’s inspiring, fascinating and graceful.
When choosing the wardrobe for our blog, Shari, my stylist, wanted clothing that would complement the jewelry, not overshadow it. She went with soft textures and dark colors. Then, she piled on the jewelry; flanking me with as many of Terri’s fabulous pieces as possible. We did it to celebrate the drama of Fall and even though I loved the look, I still longed to pay homage to my home.
So I chose a bright colored dress that reflected the colors and spirit of the Southwest (pictured in the blog.) I added my favorite green turquoise ring, my trusty sterling silver ear cuff (both purchased in Old Town Albuquerque) and some flash tattoos for an extra bohemian flare. Then, after interviewing Terri, I came up with the blog title “Gypsy Rose” …
Shireen Sandoval: How would you describe the style of jewelry you design?
Terri Schindler: My designs have always seemed to lean towards a Southwestern look. Usually earth tone in color, nature and texture. I’m very much inspired by the Native American Indian.
SS: When did you first become interested in making jewelry?
TS: At a very early age I started creating rings out of the old AT&T phone wires, which I found in the streets that varied in beautiful, bright colors. From there, I became interested in beading and working with a loom; again, even back then, a Southwestern design would emerge.
SS: I love the name of your business (Eye Gotcha Covered). How did you come up with it and does it have special meaning?
TS: When I talk to people, I make it a point to always look them in the eye. It’s important to me that they know I see them. Also, I started sketching, painting & eventually photoshopping “eyes” from an early age and even continue to do so today. When it came time to brand my line, I intuitively knew there would be an eye involved. “Eye Gotcha” was my initial thought, but as I started branching out from jewelry to accessories, I thought…well, “Eye Gotcha Covered” said it all.
SS: Your pieces are handmade. How long does the process take and have you ever made something so amazing you just can’t part with it?
TS: The process to design and create a new piece can take anywhere from hours to days. And YES, there were many pieces I swore I would never part with, but they’re currently owned and worn by people who purchased them right off my body. I’ve since learned, never say never!
SS: You are a very unique person; generous of mind and spirit. How did you become this way and what is your life mantra?
TS: It takes a conscious effort on my part, everyday, sometimes every minute to be a kinder spirit. I do fall short sometimes. That being said, my “mantra du jour” has become…”I must change my behaviors in order that these defects be removed.”
SS: What is the one piece of jewelry you own that’s most precious to you? It doesn’t have to be something you designed.
TS: A ring that my grandmother Rose wore.
SS: What makes your jewelry unique? I own several pieces and the quality and individuality are outstanding.
TS: Thank you. It’s important to me that all of my pieces not only look good visually, but feel good physically. I always appreciate hearing that someone else has actually taken notice of just that. Like any artist, I believe we create because it was meant to evoke something in someone else’s spirit, not just our own. Although some of the gemstones and findings will come from other countries, I love telling people that every single piece is handmade here in America, and by me!
SS: If you could design a wrap bracelet for any celebrity, who would it be and why?
TS: Johnny Depp. He is not only GORGEOUS (and would make a potato sack look good,) he seems to embody what I perceive to be a sense of peace and humanity that I just adore. I could also envision his Jack Sparrow character (from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series) wearing one of my “Skull” wraps…just sayin’.
SS: Is your jewelry an extension of your personality or is it a way to escape and create something new about your life?
TS: A little of both. I don’t think I’ve ever created a piece that I didn’t want to wear or look at myself. So, I get to express some parts of who I am, by not only wearing something I have created, I get to escape into the process of designing and creating a life beyond my wildest dreams.
Wearing “Eye Gotcha Covered” jewelry speaks to me on so many different levels, but mainly, it frees the Gypsy spirit deep inside my heart that I often bury because of the trappings and trends of modern day fashions.
Although Terri has never said as much, I think her grandmother, Rose, must have been a special lady. It’s just a hunch, but I think she passed on her magical energy to Terri and lucky for us she’s sharing it with the world; one beautiful wrap bracelet at a time and that’s why “Gypsy Rose” will always be one of my favorite things.
Jewelry by Eye Gotcha Covered
Facebook: Eye Gotcha Covered
photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Editor: Matthew Auerbach