Drawing inspiration from nature, Shelby Larson creates handmade gems

Under the name “Et Artem,” Larson creates unique jewelry, glass art embroidery and more.

Illustration by Eva Berezovsky

Eva Berezovsky

Illustration by Eva Berezovsky

Ksenia Gorinshteyn

Minneapolis artist Shelby Larson can make you a piece of art out of practically anything and in any medium. For her, it’s not so much about the technique as much as it is about her love of crafting. 

Her pieces are reminiscent of summers spent at camp, but elevated. In fact, that’s how Larson first started to develop her art style — working summers at camp. 

“I would just find stuff outside and bring it back and turn it into something cool,” Larson said. “My roommates were like ‘You’re bringing home some weird stuff, just wanted to check in on you.’”

Larson collects anything from leaves and rocks to animal bones that she finds on hikes, which is what led to her first piece: a bone mobile. Sure, hanging bones from a ceiling isn’t everyone’s thing, but Larson makes them carefully, highlighting the beauty in these natural structures.

“I’ll bring home bones that are covered in dirt and people are like ‘Ew,’” Larson said. “But I’m like, ‘Just give me a week to clean them up and make it into something that you can hang and that catches the light.”

Larson has a knack for identifying the potential in the natural pieces she collects. And, there are no limits to what she makes them into. 

“She’s always like, ‘Look at all these cool things,’ even if she doesn’t have a plan for them yet,” said Larson’s long-time friend Hannah Berg. “She’s always been really good at seeing the beauty in stuff and she started putting them together in pieces.”

On her Instagram, @et_artem_, Larson sells what she crafts — stickers, embroidery, jewelry, suncatchers and mobiles. She chose the name “Et Artem,” which means “and art” in Latin, as a nod to her relationship with art. 

“It fit so well,” Larson said. “It’s almost like a coping mechanism where something might have happened but, ‘I have this and art.’ It just means a lot to me.”

Some of her most recent pieces include hanging butterfly mobiles, where ethically sourced butterflies and plant matter are soldered into something you can hang in your window. 

“Everything that she makes is handmade and she puts hours into her art,” said Johnny Mack, a friend of Larson’s. “A lot of people don’t understand how long one little piece of art takes to make. It’s just really a reflection of herself.”

Butterfly wings aren’t common to come by on a hike, so Larson buys them from an Etsy shop that sources from a conservatory, making sure that no butterflies are harmed in the making of her art. 

“I always want to make sure what I’m using is something that I found and not killed,” Larson said. “Sometimes I’ll even look at something and be like ‘Wow, this is so cool, — I can’t take it from here,’ because I want other people to see it and experience it too.”

As someone who spends her summers outdoors and has a jungle of a room — with plants covering the walls of her room in her Como neighborhood home — it’s important to her that she not disturb the cycles that occur in the environment. She wants to uplift those cycles for people who may not see them in the way that she does. 

“I like having the opportunity to give those living features, or what were living features, a chance to be in the spotlight again,” Larson said. “And let other people see them for a beauty that they might not normally look at them with.”