My name is Annie.
I have loved animals since I was a little girl. If you were to ask anyone what they thought I would be when I grew up, they would all say "veterinarian." Basing this on my animal obsession, not only having a bed covered in stuffed animals, a closet full of strictly animal figurine toys, and me pretending to be an animal in my spare time (as a child I might add) everyone assumed I would be a vet one day, and I agreed.
As I got older, the thought of becoming a vet, or some form of animal breeder, stuck in my mind. I wanted to do something with animals, no doubt about that! Until my own pets growing up would get sick. Trips to the vet made me realize that it takes a special person to be a vet, or an assistant at such a place. To have to spend your everyday life taking care of animals cannot be easy. To have to tell someone their best friend didn't make it, or that the animal is suffering, cannot be easy.
I am sure the job has it's perks, such as saving an animals life, caring for an animal successfully, making a pet feel better.
It takes a very special person to be able to handle certain situations in any care facility. Whether it is human or animal. I realized, that this was not my calling.
In the winter of 2010, I discovered the skeletal remains of a dog on the train tracks near my house. (It still had a collar around its neck). My heart was heavy, not knowing exactly how its life came to an end, but I felt the need to give back somehow.
My father had a skull collection (which he later passed down to me) and was very knowledgeable in preservation and cleaning of animal remains. This was also inspired by our Native American ancestors, who showed their love and appreciation to the animals by not letting anything go to waste. Adorning in their furs, using their bones for tools, giving the animals ceremonies to show their appreciation and to give thanks.
After much research I taught myself how to clean and preserve animal bone. Many times I failed, but it was a learning experience. I had already been taught how to make jewelry from my mother, who has greatly influenced me with her unique creativity and knowledge of vintage period pieces of jewelry.
When I began creating, my intention was to never sell the jewelry. I made them for myself, never thinking anyone else would appreciate what some might consider a bit morbid. When i would post photos on social media, or wear pieces out in public, my friends quickly, and very eagerly, begged me to make them something. Telling me they would pay anything for something like what I created. One friend tried her hardest to convince me that I can sell these and that I should open up an online store. For months I was in denial. Never thinking someone would actually buy this stuff. So, she opened up an online store for me and made me sign up.
It took 4 months to make my first sale. What started as one sale a month, turned into one sale a week, and then one sale a day. It just kept on growing! It was shocking to me how many people adored this jewelry the same way I did. They understood my mission, my appreciation, and they respected and wanted to share it.
My respect and love for each and all animals is so great, that I am inspired by nature itself to give them a new beauty and new life after their death. Finding these animal remains in nature while either on hikes or walking on wild trails is one of my main sources. Even recycling road kill specimens who's life was unfortunately taken away in a violent matter, I feel, is one of the best ways to give the animal respect and give its life meaning since it was taken away so quickly.
I have been taught my whole life to never let anything go to waste. I believe this should include our wildlife. Our modern world wastes so much already, and it often undervalues animal life. I feel called to collect these creatures whether its found in the woods or on the side of the road. No animal should be left to go to waste.
photos by Garrett Meyers - www.garrettmeyersfoto.com