Elizabeth Bloom talks jewelry and her love of textile history.
What it is Elizabeth Bloom’s line of elegant, silk-covered bead jewelry and bow ties, Dorus Mhor, named after her childhood home in Scotland.
Who she is After studying sculpture at the University of Edinburgh, Bloom spent four years working at a film production company in England and Cape Town, South Africa. Craving a return to tactile artistic work, Bloom dabbled in jewelry and scarf designs, assisting a relative on a jewelry line and making and selling gifts for friends and family around the holidays. It was a defining moment in Hanoi, Vietnam, during a six-month backpacking trip in 2009, when she met a street vendor selling fabric-covered buttons, that gave Bloom the impetus—and the idea—to start her own line. “It’s the whole cliché thing where you realize what you want to do and the whole living-on-a-shoestring thing,” she says. “Money doesn’t buy you happiness.” Bloom had collected scrap tweed fabric from a summer spent working at northwest England’s Linton fabric mill (the origin of many rich Chanel fabrics) during college, and now she knew how to put the fabric to good use.
What she makes “My jewelry started off big, colorful and hairy,” Bloom says. “It always was my aim to get my jewelry appealing to a certain section of women who wouldn’t shop at a craft market.” Employing sewing skills she picked up from her mother and her understanding of material through sculpture, Bloom refined her technique of sewing high-quality fabric onto wooden beads and then stringing them onto delicate chains. She’s also graduated from her initial entrepreneurial push of selling at London markets to showing at established British, South African and now, since her move to Chicago last spring, local boutiques. Her choice of fabrics is informed by an interest in textiles with a history or story. Every season, she uses a printed fabric from trendy textile designers Liberty of London, such as the current collection’s “tiers of light,” which features fabric made from manipulated images of rusting chandeliers, and updates her “colour block” collection with bold new colors. “Somebody had said that Americans love colors,” she says, explaining her choice to make monochromatic pieces supplementing her patterned work. Necklaces and bracelets ($110–$195) drape elegantly with multiple gold and silver chains, and earrings ($40–$90) dance from the ear, nodding to Bloom’s interest in Art Deco designs. For spring, she’s experimenting with printing her own textiles. As if that’s not enough, Bloom sells handmade bow ties with fabulous printed textiles for guys and girls, too.