Jewelry Maker Honors Late Family Member Through Creative Art

Early Bird Designs Uses Local Agate for Jewelry

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Selma O’Brien had never been involved in jewelry making until two and a half years ago when a family member became ill.

“Three weeks before he passed away he went in to his little bedroom and he came out with a jar of agates and he said, ‘Here Bertie, do something with these,’ and I said, ‘Okay,’” said O’Brien.

So she went and purchased some wire and tried her hand at wrapping the rocks.

“I was lucky enough to make enough agates on pendants that when he passed away three weeks after that all of our extended family had an agate to wear at his funeral.”

Her friends and family members were impressed with her wire wrapping skills, and encouraged her to make more pendants, so she decided to take part in her fist show.

Community members started donating locally collected agates and vintage jewelry for her to incorporate in to her pieces.

She also started purchasing gems and rocks from across the world.

“I’ve designed over 2,000 pieces, to date, and I’ve sold over almost 1,400 pieces.”

As her project grew bigger, she knew she needed a name for her creations.

She tossed around a few ideas, but finally found the perfect one.

“My nick name is Bertie, and who gave me the first rocks was Earl, so it became Early Bird Designs,” said O’Brien. “So the whole thing is really named after Earl.”  

Now she uses everything from deer antlers to fossils to make the jewelry.

But even with new creative ideas and designs, she never forgets why she started.

“He was just a great person to know, I think of him often, believe me.”

Her next show will be on November 14 at the Festival of Trees held at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. 

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