A few weeks ago, one of my dearest friends sent me a care package.
She’d included a few of my favorite things: two vampy lipsticks, a bar of oatmeal soap, and a gorgeous pair of floral earrings. The earrings were unlike anything I’d ever bought before. They were beautifully hand-painted and surprisingly lightweight for being as big and bold as they were. I had to know who made them and where I could get a pair. I can’t leave the house wearing them without someone asking me the same questions.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting their talented creator, Catalina, over the phone. She was gracious enough to send me a second pair of earrings that were just as lovely as the first. And, yes, I’ve already bought a third pair. Don’t judge me.
Catalina — or, Cataphant, as she’s known — grew up in a creative midwest home. Her mom was a scientist, and her dad worked with computers. Both encouraged their children’s creativity and shelled out money for art supplies and music lessons. Her passion for art began to blossom in high school, where she went through what she described as a “super goth, dark and moody phase.”
“I had a band and we played death metal girl punk music.”
Music and art would both continue to be important to Cataphant. She began going to museums and realizing that she really wanted to paint. This desire was encouraged at a performing arts school in Columbus, Ohio. From there, she went on the Art Institute of Chicago and studied everything from ceramics and sculpture to printmaking and painting. After graduating, she returned to her love of music and released two EPs while teaching visual arts at an inner-city school in Chicago.
As her passions for art and music converged, her hectic tour schedule began making it difficult to focus on her teaching. She decided to pick one thing and focus on it. She applied for a teacher’s grant that would allow her to travel anywhere in the world and pursue her love of art. She told herself that if she got it, she would throw herself completely into art and never look back.
And she got it.
Cataphant was able to spend several months in South America. She hung with street artists and learned their techniques, and got in touch with her Columbian and Argentinian roots. The work that she did there continues to inspire her to this day. In addition to the gorgeous earrings that first drew me in, she makes all kinds of visual art, from album covers for her fellow musicians to pieces that she shows in galleries.
When I asked Catalina what else inspires her, she told me that the nature around her new home in Southern California plays a huge part in her designs. “I saw a real live cactus, like, out in nature for the first time when I moved here.” Brightly colored SoCal architecture, succulents, florals, and myriad textures get her creative juices flowing. Also, flesh. “It’s really layered. The blood that’s moving through our bodies helps give our skin its tone — life is always flowing, and it lends to the colors. I really have to study them when I paint.”
Cataphant came to faith in Christ when she was a senior in high school. She grew up culturally Catholic, but wasn’t really going to church much at that time, and found herself asking the big questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is the point of all this? She began reading a ton of books on philosophies and ideas — she wanted to get a grasp of everything that was out there. Around this time, some of her friends were getting saved and were excited to share their journey with her. She realized that the only way to reconcile the brokenness in her own life was for God himself to come and die so that she could be reconciled to him.
She knew she needed to be forgiven.
Her faith comes through in the philosophy behind her earrings. As a young Christian, she struggled to fit in with the other believers around her, and their notions of what it meant to be a godly woman. Like most of us, she’s still coming into her own.
“The goal with my earrings is for women to feel a little bit more free when they wear them. Because my earrings aren’t going to burden them –they’re just going to add to their life. It’s going to make getting dressed in the morning really easy. With my painting and everything that I’m about, I just want to lighten the load for women.”
And they’re super light.
The earrings are made of laser-cut craft would that’s sturdy, yet easy to wear. Once the pre-cut wood gets to her, Cataphant buys a ton of magazines — from bridal to gardening — and goes through and makes collages of everything that inspires her. She spends hours arranging the clippings and deciding which flowers go best with which colors and shapes. Once she feels good about her decisions, she brings her vision to life with a combination of house paint and acrylic. When she’s satisfied with her work, she puts resin on top (she described it to me as “liquid plastic”), which takes three more days to dry. Once finished, she drills a hole into the earrings, puts them on wires, and they’re ready to go. A batch of 30 pairs takes about a week to complete.
The Bottom Line
You can find Cataphant’s earrings on Instagram. I always keep an eye out for her posts, if only to salivate at what’s new. I can’t recommend them to you enough. Every pair I own is a lovely piece of art that I cherish. I’m grateful to be able to support the dream of a hard working sister in Christ. And the compliments I get don’t hurt either.
I’m not making these proclamations as a voice from on high. My social media forays bring out just as much pettiness in me as I see in others. If we’re talking logs and specks, I’m walking around with a California redwood lodged in my eye. Here are three things I would love to see less of (and more of) on social media.