JULIANA ROSENGRANT | DANCING WILLOW | West Sonoma County
Juliana Rosengrant of Dancing Willow Design is a self-described “Nordic fern fairy woman” with a nurturing presence and an infectious smile. The long dreadlocks tied away from her face trail a lingering scent of geranium. A Los Angeles native who has also lived in San Luis Obispo and San Diego, Juliana fell in love with West Sonoma County when a friend from college moved to Monte Rio. She visited every New Year and was enchanted by West County’s waterfalls and winter shades of green.
In 2005, Juliana moved to her first home in West County, a murky basement in Forestville, and then to Occidental, where she fell in love with the landscape, the community, and the man who would later become her husband. They bought land together, and Juliana found work at nearby environmental children’s camps and afterschool programs in the public school system. Their daughter, Willow, was born in 2012; a second child is on the way.
“It takes Juliana 10-12 hours to create each pair of earrings. “The motions are very repetitive, and it’s like meditation to me,” she says. “My husband can sit and meditate, but I need the motion.”
One day, Juliana bought a pair of beaded earrings at a garage sale in Sebastopol. When the earrings broke, she decided to learn how to make them herself, ordering beads online and consulting various books on Native American patterns. “I knew I didn’t want to appropriate their exact style,” she explains. “I wanted to learn from this historical process and make it my own.” Later, she was fascinated to learn that this same type of beadwork has also been found in ancient Egyptian archeological sites.
It takes Juliana 10-12 hours to create each pair of earrings. “The motions are very repetitive, and it’s like meditation to me,” she says. “My husband can sit and meditate, but I need the motion.” She uses lightweight, laser-cut Japanese beads, which means that her larger pieces are still comfortable to wear. “I’m obsessed with my beads,” she admits, and it’s not difficult to see why, as she shows off their brilliant hues and finishes, both matte and metallic.
In addition to satisfying her need for creative expression, beadwork is part of an overall work-life balance strategy. After Willow was born, Juliana took some time off from teaching to see if she could turn her passion into a business. She began selling her jewelry on Etsy, where she also takes custom orders. More recently, she has been selling her wares at craft fairs and festivals, including the Symposium of the Sacred. “I’m a kid-lover, and I always thought I wanted to just teach,” she says. “But now that I have my own family, I don’t want a full-time job away from the home. A home beading studio works well for me.”