By Margarita Hirapetian
RAW artist Maryann Barbon loves taking the unusual and creating something beautiful. The unusual in her case happens to be reptiles and insects that she incorporates into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, sold under her jewelry brand, BossHunts. Maryann has also said that she is inspired by “things that are overlooked” because being unique and different are simply a part of who she is. Perhaps for the average observer and consumer, it may seem strange to wear a ring or necklace that features the shed skin of a snake, but Maryann’s work is truly unique and beautiful. There’s no way it won’t appeal to those seeking out something beyond the norm or with a bit of an edge. Maryann admits that some people find her work makes them “uncomfortable” because snakes and insects are not necessarily in the category of the more typically adorable animals most people are drawn to. She says, “While I've never had anyone be insulting toward me or my work, it isn't uncommon for me to have people tell me how much snakes or bugs make them uncomfortable and the idea of wearing something made with anything coming from them freaks them out.” That’s honestly unfortunate, because Maryann’s jewelry is bold, striking, edgy, and lovely in a way that may not seem obvious. Wearing one of her pieces will make you stand out and get noticed, separating you from the pack. For example, there are the leather and gold bracelets featuring the shed of a Barnett’s lancehead. At first glance, you may not even realize it’s snakeskin, because, as previously mentioned, the pieces are beautiful above all. You’d be proud to have them in your jewelry collection.
Maryann explains that art was always something she loved to do even as a child. Art classes in middle and high school were her favorite parts of the day, however, she never had any formal training beyond that. Instead, she began doing her own jewelry while working on a snake farm. She says, “At the time, I was watching a YouTuber who made various objects combining resin with unusual objects like food or shop towels which inspired me to learn how to use resin myself and try it out with all of the snake sheds I dealt with at work every day. That lead to me experimenting with the many bugs I collect.” Speaking of bugs, Maryann also creates pieces featuring delicate and translucent insect wings and pendants with carpenter bees, June bugs, and dried flowers inside a dome (all of the insects she uses she finds deceased). Yes, it’s definitely different and not something you see every day, but that’s what makes it so special too. Maryann says, “I've always been a little more different in my interests and hobbies than many people but I've never been embarrassed about who I am either. So I think overlooked things have a value worth seeking out because most people aren't thinking about them. I don't knock anyone for having interests in common things but I want to show others that it's good to try out weird stuff too. I also find value in making waste (seeing as the snakes just discard their sheds) worthy of more.”
Her hope for what people take away from her work involves more of an appreciation for the animals and insects she works with. She explains, “I hope that when someone takes a look at what I do they'll think about the animals that are involved in the various jewelry I have made. I'd like for people to see the less cute and cuddly creatures as having their own charm. And if they find themselves wanting to wear something of mine that's a bit "out there," then that's just the icing on the cake.” For Maryann, the animals she works with are obviously very important to her and she treats them with the respect they deserve. She has a true love for them and it’s certainly reflected in her work. She says, “I've always found reptiles, snakes in particular, incredibly fascinating. For how "simple" they may seem to be, they are so diverse. When one thinks of a snake, they generally imagine a scaly animal with no legs that eats mice and maybe has fangs. But I think about the different colors, the different scale textures, the behavioral differences. With the reptile farms I worked for, breeding some species for particular color morphs was an important part of the job and I think the genetics of these animals is amazing.” To that extent, she adds, “I really enjoy being able to make something that captures the beauty I see in the animals I enjoy so much. A dried up snake shed isn't really much to look at on its own but transforming it into something different is so satisfying. I also find people to seem to have genuine interest in how I got into making my jewelry and it's nice to get that curiosity and conversation with people.”
As for the future, Maryann says, “I want to continue to improve my jewelry making process and expand my skillset to make even more exciting pieces with a larger variety of styles. I am hoping to do more events and showcase my work as well because I really do enjoy discussing it with others.”
Intrigued? You should definitely follow her on Instagram (@bosshunts) to see more and better understand the process behind it all. It’s fascinating!