Jewelry artist Nirado Sloan says, “When I pick up a stone and work with it, it speaks to me and I feel the millions of years of it to the beginning of our earth.”
Sloan started out as young educator working in inner-city Chicago and then Los Angeles. But she soon became disillusioned by an ineffective educational system she felt powerless to change. “We all have to go on a journey to find ourselves and our reality and our truth,” she says. “I decided to join a craft guild of people I met and loved. I lived in my van for several years, making macramé and whimsical sculptures. I traveled all over the country doing craft shows. For a while I lived in a 12-window school bus.” Sloan took up pottery and did that for 12 years — then forayed into fiber craft.
“Somewhere along the line, my healing practice was gearing up,” she relates. “When I first became a Reiki master, I used gemstones in my work. Then I felt like, wouldn’t it be great if [clients] could actually wear this and it would help them even more?” She started beading gemstones, learned to make bracelets, did wire work, and tackled metalsmithing — all of which she now teaches at Haywood Community College, where she also offers a class in first-aid homeopathy.
When she started her homeopathy practice about 15 years ago, her focus was animals. But Sloan soon discovered that when she healed their pets, the human family wanted some of the same attention: “It starts with their pet, and then extends to treating the whole family.” In another role reversal, Sloan added a line of pendant jewelry designed for animals, to augment her existing line of handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that showcase the organic beauty of stones. But humans are the more skeptical species, and not everyone accepts that rocks have intrinsic healing properties.
“I don’t care if they believe in them,” Sloan admits. “I’d rather them buy it and not know they’re being healed. If they love a stone and ask, I’ll tell them about its healing properties. But it’s completely individual-specific. What makes a stone a healing stone is that you’re excited about it when you put that stone’s energy into your own energy field. People will browse around and explore and see what they like. Then they’ll come back with one and say, ‘This is the one that talked to me.’”
Sloan resonates deeply with nuummite, a stone found in Greenland but in a location that can only be accessed at certain times of year, when the weather and the ocean grant permission. Believed to be one of the oldest stones on earth, it is a rich, deep black that surprises with iridescent ribbons of shimmering colors on the inside. “The first time I picked one up,” Sloan recalls, “I went into other zones.”
Healing Gemstone Jewelry by Nirado, Leicester. Nirado Sloan’s home studio will be open Saturday, Aug. 21 and Sunday, Aug. 22, 10am-6pm, for the annual Come to Leicester Studio Tour (cometoleicester.org). The artist’s work is carried at Artisans on Main (14 North Main St., Weaverville, more info on Facebook); The Jeweler’s Workbench (80 North Main St.,Waynesville, thejwbench.com); and at Mountain Made in the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville (mtnmade.com). For more information, see healinggemstonejewelry.us and on Facebook.