Bellingham artist Camila Wilde has always craved variety and creative challenges—and she’s found plenty of opportunities for both in recent years, since founding her own jewelry brand and home-based business, Moody & Co.
Wilde was raised in Covington, Washington. As an art student at Western Washington University, she loved ceramics. Her first local show featured heavy mugs hung for display in a restaurant where she worked. “Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to have something so heavy hanging above folks’ heads while they were dining,” she says with a laugh.
Inspired by the work of Robert Crumb, Wilde also explored her “inner bawdy,” dabbling in drawing and painting in the style of a comic book. Video became her next avenue of expression with a variety of performance art projects. As part of a collaborative effort, she and a partner stacked random TVs so they appeared to be conversing. Other video project themes focused on pop culture, her “inner child,” reconciling confusion and a commentary on dating.
Wilde earned a BFA in video art and mixed media, but after all her years of study, was struck by how very hard it is to be an artist. She did not feel prepared for life past college and asked herself: What’s the world going to give me now?
The first answer to that question came in 2016 when Wilde began working full time at Bellingham’s ModSock. In this bustling environment, she designed socks by painting with pixels. In 2018, she experimented with using the pixel painting technique to design beaded jewelry and discovered another creative outlet. She is now an inside sales representative for ModSock and markets her beaded jewelry on a part-time basis through Moody & Co.
The distinct #slowfashion earrings Wilde creates are best described as bright, cheerful and playful. She takes inspiration from Bellingham sunsets and ’70s sweaters, among other things, and uses the brick stitch bead technique to make durable pieces that honor the cultural legacy of beading.
Beads have always been used to adorn and bedazzle, and to commemorate special occasions. The child of one of Wilde’s customers was about to have heart surgery, and the mother purchased earrings with the Heartbreaker design to acknowledge the event.
Some of her designs have a feminist tone, including a recent pair that simply says, “No.” “‘No’ is a complete sentence,” says Wilde, adding that to her, feminism means to “honor and respect another, the same way one loves and respects themselves.”
After some experimentation, Wilde decided Japanese glass beads best suited her making ideals. “The holes are larger, making them a reliable resource to bead with,” she says. She orders them from Charlene’s Beads in Adelanto, California, and she is especially happy to buy from and support another female entrepreneur. Her other suppliers include Shipwreck Beads and Aura Crystals.
The earring hardware initially was a hypo-allergenic metal, but she plans to switch to sterling silver. She uses fishing line (a combination of wax, fiber and plastic) to string the beads with a stable, strong weave.
Beading has allowed Wilde to simplify her art. She let go of heavy ceramics and stacking TVs in favor of working small, quiet and slow. She has found her artistic voice, and the earrings have become an emotional labor of love.
Designing jewelry fulfills a need to problem solve while she is also making an object of art. The beading technique is rather time consuming but, Wilde says, there is something really beautiful about it. Prices for her work are based on the cost of beads and the hours it takes to make each item.
The company logo Wilde designed reflects the feeling a rainbow offers. A storm can be moody, yet a rainbow, which comes from sunshine, is the moment of joy immediately after a storm passes.
Wilde communicates exclusively using Instagram. She began with a post asking, “Hey friends what do you think of what I am making?” which then turned into her primary marketing tool. She found an immediate interest and response to her work. That enthusiasm helped her figure out what people wanted to buy. As her part-time business has grown, she’s shared stories of her process, the trial and error, and her authentic self.
Bellingham has been Wilde’s home for almost 10 years. When she isn’t selling socks or beading, she loves cooking or hanging out with her boyfriend, Steven, and playing pinball. She’s also currently experimenting with necklace designs.
Vendors that carry Moody & Co. jewelry include local establishments Brazen Shop + Studio, Phoebe Bird and Third Planet. Wilde’s work is also sold in Port Townsend, California and New York City. Wholesale options are available. With gifting season upon us, be sure to remember your local artisans and small businesses who appreciate your loyalty, sharing and purchasing.
Featured photo by Steven McCarragher