Although Elena Huerta has only lived in Portland since December, in the six months since moving, she’s started her own business and was selected as a RAW artist — one of 12 in Portland.
Elena, owner of Happy Medium, describes herself as a poet, chef, photographer, designer, writer, life coach and artist. Her jewelry, which earned her a spot as a RAW artist, consists of organic materials — mainly crystals. After spending late nights experimenting with wire design, Elena discovered something that grew into a passion.
She said she enjoys that a stone is never really “finished,” as they can continue to morph over time. You could come back and decades later it might be a different color or have new crystals.
As well as creating unique jewelry, Elena is working on a series of paintings titled “Tree People.” The series represents the idea that as human beings we are innately connected to nature. Most of the paintings depict naked people, with feet growing into the Earth. Elena said some of them are connected to other people, and all of them have trees for heads. The series reflects the intentions behind her jewelry.
I was on a Skype call with my sister Lisa one day and she reminded me that her friend since grade school, Heidi Luerra, had begun RAW. Lisa proceeded to explain to me some of the details, having previously attended a RAW event in Los Angeles to support her old friend, and contacted Heidi about me getting involved in the RAW community. Within the week I was in touch with Heidi myself, and she put my name on the guest list for a RAW event so that I could see for myself what the experience entailed. I ended up attending the May RAW showcase as a guest, and enjoyed it so much that I immediately put my name on the list of artists interested in being featured. Less than a couple weeks later I had my profile all lined up and was contacted by Jeramiah, the director of the Portland RAW sector to be a featured artist in this coming Portland showcase on July 11.
Tell me about your jewelry. How did you get started? How long have you been making pieces?
A little over a year and a half ago my musician friend Annie had noticed my fascination with crystals. I had a collection growing which we observed for some time, and knowing that I am a very creative person, Annie told me about a woman she knew about who wrapped the crystals with wire into jewelry. After Annie suggested this idea to me I began spending entire nights playing with crystals and beginning stages of design. I would watch videos and experiment with different types of crystals and colors. At this point it was more for the fun of it and to get a feel for the craft.
It was amazing to me that we have these elaborate machines outputting factory made jewelers materials and here I could use something Earth made and make something meaningful with it. I took this a step further by embracing the idea of making art using what is already made by the Earth, and moving toward creating pieces with recycled vintage and old materials as well A lot of times I will pick up one piece, and shuffle around through what I have until another feels like it would fit. Even to this day I find friends and family who have stuff they do not use anymore passing it along to me to be recreated into something else beautiful! It feels good to renew materials and give them new life.
When I purchase new materials to work with, I also consider what many may know as the eco-friendliness factor. What is it made out of? Where did it come from? If it’s natural, was it grown without pesticides and herbicides? Is it fair trade? If they are feathers, are they cruelty free? (Many feathers in particular I find on the ground myself.) There are so many questions I ask when acquiring a single new product. Many times when I find a product that I enjoy using and works for me, I will continue to buy that same product from the same source every single time I need more. For example, right now I only work with silver wire bought from a company called Rio Grande. They maintain safe working conditions, reduce their environmental impact, renew old silver material, support other fair practices, and are constantly in process of creating a more ethical business.
By practicing sustainably I intend to craft always with the consideration of what I am doing now and the companies that I contribute to, will affect the present and future of this planet’s communities as a whole. I feel as a human being it is my responsibility to do my part in creating a better world, and in that I intend to do so through everything that I do including my artwork.
What inspires you when you create pieces?
Individuality inspires me when I create. I love the idea that because everything I am doing is handmade, it’s like a piece of myself is being imparted into each creation. I also love the idea that every single piece that I make will be original, never will there be an exact copy of a piece of jewelry — and the way I operate, this is virtually impossible! Since I recycle so many jewelry finds, I only have a limited source for a certain material and many times only one in my stock to work with. The same thing goes with all the crystals I use — each one has its own unique shape and color, never to be replicated exactly. The uniqueness of the crystal leads to uniqueness in the wrapping, because I have a specific determination of tuning into the best way to wrap a crystal so that the crafting is durable and the design is appealing.
I do practice many art forms, a lot of them on a daily basis. I’m a vegan chef, photographer, poet, writer, and multimedia artist. I tend to do creative things every day whether it be just a recipe for a meal I made, or a photo of the beautiful natural surrounding areas. I write journal entries and poems, sometimes stories when I feel inspired to
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to get out into nature and walk around, if only within the neighborhood. I spend a lot of time with my family, and my puppy companion Stardust is with me at every opportunity. I enjoy going to farmers markets to buy fresh produce which will later be made into some type of vegan recipe and posted on Instagram of course, with so many other things. I love food, experimenting with different creative techniques, yoga, researching holistic modalities such as the use of herbs, and watching inspiring movies. I sometimes make my own bath, beauty and healing products and tend to post recipes and information on these things as well. I’m always experimenting with innovation — some of my latest adventures are harvest seeds from the fresh, organic foods I’m eating and growing plants from kitchen scraps like ginger and garlic.
There’s a place in Portland I love to go called Southeast Grind, mostly because they serve Kombucha fermented tea (an obsession of mine) and are open 24 hours. It’s perfect for me who makes my own schedule and is up at the latest night and early morning hours a lot of the time — they have amazing, healthy food and atmosphere as well. I also consider myself an activist. Besides my eco-conscious lifestyle, I spend a portion of time every couple days signing petitions relevant to community health, responsible business, etc. It’s a little effort to do what I can that I have seen pay off many times. I’ll post relevant information such as the health of bees, impacts of GMO foods, and other things on my social media sites as well.
You also consider yourself a life coach, among other things.
I began practicing as a healer and spiritual guide a couple years ago after having overcome a lot of my own health and mental struggles. I would conduct healing sessions, meditation sessions, and give spiritual related advice to those who came to me for help or with questions. Nowadays my practice in this area has dwindled, but knowing my knowledge with healing techniques among other things I do get people who come to me (a lot of them find me through social media) and ask me questions or just want to tell me their story. I do the best I can to really listen to people and hear what they have to say. If it’s a health related question, I will offer up my advice based on what I have learned and experienced as an option for them to try if it’s not too serious or give options to discuss with their own practitioner. Generally I do not bring a business related side into this part of my life anymore, as I feel what I know is here to share without limitation.
Elena Huerta has been recently nominated as a RAW Artist.