Martha Rotten Jewelry: Memorializing the Lost
Martha Rotten Jewelry’s style is something that immediately registers as a cut above the rest, but it is so hard to describe. It’s gothic, it’s bold, it’s edgy, it’s quirky, it’s spiritual, and it’s stunning. It’s memorable and memorial. Designer-artist Francene Yorko and husband, artist Pete Yorko, deftly pull off this eclectic mix to create jaw-droppingly stunning, original, handcrafted jewelry and gift wares. Natural motifs such as animal skulls and vertebrae, sea creatures, and flowers appear throughout Martha Rotten’s creations. Other common themes are the occult, religious iconography, creepy babies and dolls, and fantasy. These and other elements are often mixed together to create highly-detailed pieces of weird whimsy. It’s one of those collections you look at and think, I want every single piece.
The answer is “YES.” This new item, a stunning planchette-shaped bangle bracelet, is accented with black crystals and a black glass carbachon. It is made to fit a 7.5″ wrist, but the company is happy to customize the fit for you. Planchette Bangle//$69
Death becomes her. This breathtaking flora and fauna necklace intertwines the living and the dead. Flower Vulture Skull Necklace//$145
The items are made using the almost completely lost art of model making, learned during a four-year apprenticeship at Swarovski. “The sculpting of pewter master models (a long time Italian craft) has gone overseas and is no longer being taught or apprenticed domestically. Despite cheap labor and 3D printing, we hope to keep alive the love and desire for domestically hand-crafted products,” says Martha Rotten’s artist statement for the Chicago One Of a Kind Show and Sale. All of Martha Rotten’s items are made from 100% lead-free pewter and are made by the Yorkos in the U.S.A. The Yorkos do not use 3D printing for any of their items.
Flights of fancy. These gorgeous ornate statement rings come with your choice of all black or black and red crystals. Blue Jay Ring//$86
Arcane animalia. This intricate filigree necklace is decorated with Vitrail and black crystals. Pagan Bunny Necklace//$98
Martha Rotten immortalizes more than the art of model-making. Animal parts used as models are ethically sourced from found, already-deceased animals. Yorko explained her use of bones to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her family was in the funerary business, and she originally planned on being a mortuary cosmetologist. She uses animal bones to memorialize the animals from which they came, including her beloved late boa constrictor, Simon. In other pieces, she hilariously made wisdom teeth casts using teeth from an ex-boyfriend. She paid for their extraction, after all. “People love the fact that even though he was an awful boyfriend, I made my money back,” said Yorko in the article.
Success is the best revenge. This stretch-style bracelet is accented with clear crystals. Wisdom Teeth Stretch Bracelet//$86
Look fierce. Bold statement pieces such as this big-link chain necklace are a hallmark of Martha Rotten. Dolphin Vertebra Necklace//$114
The Martha Rotten Collection is quite extensive. This article features items available in the Martha Rotten Etsy Shop for your convenience. Be sure to check out the links below to see more and find out whether there is a brick-and-mortar store carrying other items near you. In addition to jewelry of all types, Martha Rotten makes gift wares such as wall hooks, swizzle sticks, toothpick holders, and condiment spreaders.
Hush, little baby. This creepy cuff-style bracelet features crystal “eyes,” chain, and a baby charm. Doll Head Cuff//$110
You can buy a selection of Martha Rotten’s extensive collection on Etsy at Martha Rotten. You can find a list of brick-and-mortar stores that carry Martha Rotten creations on the Martha Rotten website. You can follow Martha Rotten on Instagram @martharottenjewelry to see more of the collection, and get a heads-up when they will be at a show in your area.