The deepest beauty and joy come from an intention to care for all life. Because without regret of harm, the beauty of the present moment can be more fully experienced. That’s why Altar Metals are made mindfully, with our Earth’s complex ecosystems at heart. Recycled metals are used whenever possible to avoid freshly mined metals because the mines currently operating all over the world are some of the most destructive resource extraction practices in existence, often with a lack of care for the humans and environment involved. I work with the least toxic and wasteful of processes available, omitting options like gold plating, and limiting dust and disposables in my metal finishing processes. It is not a perfect practice yet, but I am always thinking about ways to lower my impact on the environment and my own health.
Humans have been adorning themselves as far back as we can tell, and probably will never stop, so while we have the resources and the time, let us make and wear the jewelry that inspires deeper thought, connection to a source of inner strength, and commitment to beauty and simplicity.
Things can be simple and beautiful without being “perfect”, that’s why you’ll never see a high polish here. Besides, conservation of energy is important to me, and a perfect mirrored surface takes a lot of time, energy, and materials to achieve. Additionally, I like to avoid the creation of mythical and unsustainable states of being- a high polish in silver or gold is never fated to last; whether the metal gets scratched or tarnished, it is not practical in terms of actual wearability or longevity. Inevitably this shiny finish will fade. So there is an edge here, and an acceptance of ruggedness in favor of realistic expectations. The result is jewelry that looks better the more you wear it, as life polishes the surfaces for you…
Aside from a small collection of cast pendants, cast components, and the affordable prefabricated chain I use for necklaces, most of the work of Altar Metals is hand formed using old metalsmithing techniques that were originally used to create teapots and tableware. Hammers and various other forming tools are used to transform recycled silver sheet metal into voluminous forms. This set of hammer techniques is the heart of my practice.
And as always, I try to do my best to keep our environment in mind when making jewelry and business decisions alike. All businesses, even small businesses like mine have a responsibility to help build a regenerative future for the planet and all her inhabitants. With this goal as a backdrop for everything I do, I source my materials from other companies with environmental and human-rights minded policies.
About the Maker
My name is Lilla Cory Warren and I currently make all Altar Metals pieces by hand in Nicasio, California, with a little help from JR Casting, a company in San Francisco who cast a few of my designs and some of my jewelry elements. I grew up on Martha's Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts, and I have always loved jewelry. Making beaded or woven cord jewelry was a hobby when I was little, and one of my favorite things to do was go through my mother’s and grandmother’s jewelry boxes and hear the stories that went along with the pieces.
I have been a student of Metalsmithing since 2007 when I took my first jewelry making class at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, and I have attended ten different intensive courses at craft schools in the southeast to supplement my college Art School education.
I connected early with the opportunity for life enrichment, meaning, and healing that jewelry brings. Whether its a connection to a person or place, a promise, protection, or physical healing, placing jewelry on the body is and always has been throughout time, a way to communicate to ourselves and others our intentions and a hint at our inner world.
My favorite way to use jewelry has been for healing and growth, placing jewelry on my body that invites energies I would like to cultivate in myself. In this way, the body becomes like an altar, a place upon which meaningful symbols and materials are displayed to communicate our desires and devotions.
Because I also learned metalsmithing skills in school, in the context of sculptural metalwork, I have the ability to create vessels, utensils, and simple tools in the traditional ways that were developed to make fine silver accoutrements and serving dishes as well as cooking pots and other useful household things long ago. The tools we have available today have changed but the principle remains the same, to work with the plasticity of metal using hammers and forming stakes to give form to flat sheets of metal.
After I came to California in 2012 and became steeped in a spiritual atmosphere that draws inspiration from all around the world, and I learned many different ways to work with altars, it became a love and a habit to work with altars in my personal life, and to create tools and ceremonial vessels that can be used in altar or ritual work, using the traditional metalsmithing techniques that I have learned over the years.
I am proud to be one of infinite numbers of craftspeople throughout time and space, using their skills to aid in spiritual practices and healing for ourselves and our planet and all beings, and I hope to offer my skills to people who will bring lots of healing to themselves and the world.