Sophie Monet’s Guide to the Big Sur
The California native is exploring her home state and letting it inspire her.
Sophie styling her lookbook post-trip.
Now that Sophie Monet has moved back West after a stint in New York, she’s doing some latitudinal exploring. Awhile ago, the designer, who makes earthy chic wood-and-rock jewelry, and her boyfriend headed up to the Big Sur. The jagged cliffs and the dramatic drop-offs got her so excited that she decided to try to mimic the rocky beach setting for a lookbook, shot in Malibu. Here, she shares the five finds that have stuck with her.
Sophie doing her best tree gnome, stepping out of a huge redwood.
The (Daunting) Hike: “There’s this place called Jade Cove Beach—so, of course, I was like, ‘I can get jade and make my jewelry with it!’ I was thinking it was going to be this easy little rocky beach, but it is literally a rope going down to the water that you have to traverse as if you’re rock climbing. We met this guy down there who was teaching us what to look for. There was a lot of quartz, and it was cool to be able to see that you could still go to these places and find the natural formations. It makes me have a greater appreciation of the stones I use and what goes into finding them.”
A gorgeous, vivid field of poppies.
The Breakfast: “I think the best meal I had was at Big Sur Bakery. It was our last day, and no place was open for brunch anymore. We went to a gas station, and that’s where the bakery is. They have these delicious homemade chocolate croissants, and the coffee is some of the best ever.”
This is how tremendous the trip was.
The Back Road: “You usually take Highway One into Big Sur, but the day before we left, there had been a landslide. We had to take an alternate route from all the way inland that took another extra hour, but it actually turned out to be really cool because we came from the east, through the navy base and through the forest. All of the sudden, everything opened up and we were at the top of the mountain, and we could see down at the ocean. We felt like we were a mile up in the air, but we could touch the ocean.”
One of the long-exposure light drawings.
The Overnight Spot: “We stayed at this place called Fernwood—it’s a campground, but we stayed in a cabin. We made a campfire at night and did these light drawings—we got all crazy with the flashlight and camera. It became obsessive because we wanted to get our words just right.”
The mind-blowing falls.
The Sight to See: “McWay Falls is a waterfall that goes out to the ocean. There used to be a house on the cliff, and I can’t imagine living there and being able to look at that view every day. It’s just so remote and beautiful.”
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Sophie Monet’s Dangerous Tools
If you thought jewelry-making was a delicate craft—well, read on.
Sophie Monet Okulick’s elegant wood-and-rock designs might be polished, but the process of making them is as dangerous and messy as it is intense. “I cut myself all the time—my hands are so messed up,” she L.A.-based phenom explains. “But I just really like to work with my hands. Getting that end result is really satisfying and makes me feel so good.” These are five of the awesome-scary tools she uses along the way.
“That’s my dremel—it looks like fun, but it is a monster. I use that to carve out the settings in the rings and necklaces. I wear a mask because my face is so close to it, and it gets sawdust everywhere. It got stuck in my hair once—it was terrible. So now I have my rule: I always have to wear my hair up. I don’t know why that wasn’t the rule to begin with.”
“I cut all my forms on the band saw. The blades break a lot—so that’s a challenge—and you have to careful you don’t get your fingers too close to it.”
“The belt sander gets me the fine detail and the softness that I want the finished product to have. I experiment with it most often because you can change things the fastest. You can stand over a belt sander for an hour, making something smaller and smaller and smaller. When my friends come over and want to make something, I hand them a random scrap piece and let them go to work.”
“I use an epoxy to attach the rocks. It’s messy because if you use too much, it’s difficult to clean up the edges. I try to wear gloves, but I a lot of times I have to use lacquer thinner to get it off my hands.”
“The drill press is what I use when I make my rings, to make the hole for your finger. I pull it down and drill a clean circle into the wood. You really have to have a tight grip on everything.”