A creative mind often sees potential for beauty where others do not. Aviva Baumann, maker and founder of Twig, a local business producing earrings from recycled materials and reclaimed woods, is an artist who falls into this category. She sees the extraordinary in the ordinary and makes something of it.
At the heart of the Twig endeavor is Baumann's commitment to upcycling; most of the materials her company uses would otherwise become trash. As a student in the Santa Fe Community College's woodworking program, Baumann also builds furniture. "We have these burn boxes, which are basically boxes where small scraps of wood get thrown that can't be used," she says. "I was watching all of this really beautiful wood get thrown away, and I just kind of had a moment and was like, 'Or, I could make jewelry out of it.'"
Baumann’s budding company kicked off in October of last year. “It started out with just making stuff for my friends, and people kept asking about it so I decided to make it into a business,” she explains. “And it took off.”
Twig's earrings are thinly sliced wooden geometric shapes and simple fractals that feature varying colors and textures. Some have New Mexico-inspired names such as El Bosque, Angel Fire and Carrizozo. "The wood grain informs the shape of the piece," Baumann says. "It usually starts with me gathering all of my scraps. … I sort all the wood and then a lot of the time it's tonal stuff. I'll pick certain pieces and match them—every pair is unique."
Baumann has only produced earrings thus far, but says she plans to branch out soon into other kinds of wearable wood, like bolo ties and necklaces.
With organic colors and sophisticated, simple designs that set sand-colored pieces next to rich wine-red ones, creating symmetrical patterns; or designs created with dark and light marbled wood that looks like an agate—these aren't like the played-out earrings you see in airport kiosks with cliché henna patterns burned into cheap wood.
Baumann's designs are something you can wear every day, or add to an elegant ensemble for an evening event. They're "versatile, simple, and natural," she tells SFR. And they're not heavy like many dangling stunners are. "I feel that they really fit the New Mexico aesthetic, and they naturally go with whatever you want to wear," Baumann adds.
Materials are sourced from the burn box pile at SFCC and Baumann gathers wood scraps from other artists and furniture designers. "It's been a really cool way for me to connect with other woodworkers in the community," she says. "At this point, everyone that's at the community college and various other furniture or cabinet shops in town knows that I do this. So I'll swing by and go through the piles at Boyd & Allister; or some of my fellow woodworkers will bring me pieces of wood they say has been sitting in their garage for 20 years, and they say, 'I want to give it to you for earrings.'" She says her studio and garage can look a bit like a hoarder's haven, but one would never guess it looking at her clean designs.
Wearing one of Baumann's pieces (they all run $50) is adopting part of a recovered wooden treasure into your wardrobe and, given all her resources, you never know; your new pair could be made from the remnants of a fancy piece of furniture or an important work of art. In addition to selling her designs on her website, (twig.works—yes, that's the URL), which is often sold out, you can find Baumann's earrings at local establishments like Dragon Rising (1512 Pacheco St., 428-0276), Madrid General (2873 Hwy. 14, Madrid, 570-0827) and Body (333 W Cordova Road, 986-0632). Soon, you'll find her pieces available at other shops in Albuquerque and Taos; keep an eye on her Instagram (@twig.works) for updates, and her site for new twigs.