A woman’s identity can change when she becomes a mother, yet she doesn’t necessarily lose the woman she was before she gave birth. Instead she evolves further, embracing the duality of who she was and who she’s becoming. This was certainly the case for jewelry designer Bliss Lau, who was inspired to create her latest collection on the day she delivered her daughter.
Bliss’s father also passed at around the same time, catapulting her into a deeper understanding of the duality of life, and a period of profound contemplation and creativity. “I wanted to celebrate my new baby while honoring the passing of my father. The process of life from beginning to end felt so powerful—it was so close to me that I was compelled to design pieces that encapsulated it.”
Born in New York, Bliss lived briefly in LA before moving to Hawaii at the age of 11. Seven years later, she returned to New York to study at Parsons. A life lived across two cultures seeded a sense of dual identity that blossomed deeply as she birthed her daughter and watched her father pass. “Duality is as inherent to me as being a Hapa, it infuses everything I do.”
New Life, New Ideas
It was motherhood, however, that awakened new creativity. “A friend of mine, who’s a mother of three, has this theory. As each of her children grew inside her, they inspired her in different ways. She would suddenly become obsessed with an area of history or philosophy. Then, when her children were born, their personalities seemed to reflect the subject of her obsession, as if their energy had been brewing throughout pregnancy.”
Bliss brings the energy of her own daughter into her designs, using precious stones to share the creative essence of making new life within her own body. In particular, she wore crystal quartz throughout her pregnancy to act as a conduit, and now uses it in her jewelry. “I wanted to capture the experience, which is nascent and full of adventure, and to carry it forward as my daughter grows up. It’s a reminder of new beginnings and blessed life events.”
Yet an idea of death remained ever present despite the promise of new life. “My daughter is my first child, but not my first pregnancy. We had a loss at five months the previous year, and I wished I’d somehow captured the energy I shared with that baby.” A year of reflection followed this pregnancy, especially after her father’s death, as Bliss processed her experience of beginnings and endings, allowing her grief to evolve into a celebration of both.
Death and Duality
Bliss hopes her pieces will aid healing and reflection in times of grief, as well as encouraging celebration. “My father was both creative and a sales genius. He worked for Kodak in the seventies and was the top salesperson in the country, but he had to fight racism on the way, working twice as hard in order to be respected. He didn’t let other people’s prejudice anger him, and instead found ways to help them see him (and other people of Asian descent) in a new way.”
This is why Bliss uses black jade to honor her father’s Chinese heritage. “Black jade is a protective and healing stone. It conveys the power of the people and forces that guide us.” Much like her father did, as he taught her the value of using creativity as a path through pain towards healing.
“Later in life, when he had cancer, he became a ceramicist and made a collection of pieces as a way to process his illness. He created a story based on Humpty Dumpty who, instead of falling down, discovered magical bandages to heal himself.” Bliss’s own creative process combined with her experience of motherhood has become her magical bandage.
Creation As Evolution
“When designers share an idea with the world, we open ourselves up to criticism or praise, or even to being ignored. And this is something that we experience with each new launch.” It’s also something that mother’s may experience as they birth new life. “I take solace in the fact that I love what I do, and what I create is important to me. Knowing this, and knowing I tried, helps me to keep trying,” and she will keep trying, working with the duality of life and death, of beginnings and endings, of her experiences as both a parent and a child—a metamorphosis made possible by motherhood.