© Lucian Astilean

The story of Mihaela Epure, a chemical engineer turned full-time handmade artist

Discover Mihaela Epure, a talented resin jewelry maker from Cluj-Napoca, and how she worked her way from being a chemical engineer to a full-time artist, in an exclusive interview for LAUREL (ex Creative Humans).

LAUREL (ex Creative Humans) is made of people that believe life is about passion, beauty, motion, connectivity, self-expression.

*Excerpt from the Creative Humans manifesto

One of the many things I like about artisans is their unfiltered passion, that is still so pure and strong. A little while ago, I asked Mihaela Epure, a talented resin jewelry maker from Cluj-Napoca, to help me continue telling her story of how she worked her way from being a chemical engineer to a full-time artist, in an exclusive interview for Creative Humans.

How it all started

If you would meet Mihaela, you could sense a wave of joyfulness surrounding her and everyone around. She speaks with dedication and warmth about her work, while trying to find the ladies gazing at her presentation stand the perfect match among the beautiful resin jewels.

© Lucian Astilean

She hasn’t always been doing this, though. Like all great things in life, “getting from chemical engineer to handmade artist was a pure coincidence” – is how she explains. “Everything started during my stay in Italy, 3 years ago, when a colleague of mine invited me to attend a workshop on resin manipulation; (the workshop was) organized in Verona by a friend who is both an architect and a handmade artist. It was a more than pleasant experience; this is when I started being attracted by this material and actually began developing a new passion. I couldn’t have thought that I would discover a hobby this way or that I would have any hidden talents – usually, you discover them when you’re younger.

© Lucian Astilean

While still having a full-time job in Italy, she continued looking more and more into the subject of resin – how to work with it, what kinds of things she could create, what tools she would need etc. – and take notes on other artists who were already doing it. “I started with studying resin pouring techniques, following hundreds of tutorials and carefully observing other creative people from Italy. After that, I bought different materials (resin, molds, insertion elements), and after work I would relax by experimenting and creating little decorations for the home or for my friends. In time, I managed to perfect my technique and to notice I had more and more imagination. Basically, from here to becoming a resin jeweler was just a step.

Learning never ceases

One might think that being a chemical engineer is good enough and no one should quit such a highly resonating profession for a hobby. However, Mihaela has relied more on her intuition and love for experimenting; she discovered a new world, a new motivation, something that truly tickles her creative spirit. “This material has attracted me from the first moment, as it gives me the possibility to experiment, a thing that very much interests me, and the end result is always an emotional surprise. The resin is an innovative material, versatile, that can be used in different ways; it allows to include small decorative elements inside, so that I can create unique jewelry, with a special meaning and that are capable of telling a story.

© Lucian Astilean

Getting creative with her work is a real treat for Mihaela. “I find inspiration in almost everything that surrounds me – from nature elements, seasons, colors, to people, states of mind or emotions. I follow the trends of every season, what shapes, colors or color combinations are in and I adapt them to my own creations, in a way that I believe they would best represent me.” Just like any artist, she sometimes experiences creative blockages, but her drive to always keep moving & doing eventually makes the spark of ideas show up: “There are days, for example, when I don’t feel inspired at all, but most of the times, inspiration comes as I keep creating.” This reminds me of that popular saying – “the appetite comes as you eat”.

Dream, believe & do

Confronted with this growing interest for jewelry making and creative living, Mihaela started thinking of how she could take it to the next level. This has led her to the idea that maybe she could turn this new-found hobby into an opportunity to return home, to Romania. However, a step like this is never a piece of cake, as she recalls: “It wasn’t an easy decision. After 15 years spent in Italy, I initially thought that it will be very hard for me to start over in Romania, especially because I didn’t have a clear idea of what I would do or what road I would take.

© Lucian Astilean

Many time, at this point, there’s a high chance that a dreadful fear of failure attacks people’s intentions and make them cave in. They start doubting the road they’ve just started on. Is it worth it? Have I made a mistake? And so on. Nevertheless, an extra drop of confidence is as magical as every motivational speaker would say and Mihaela is here to confirm. “Fortunately, the good part was that here (in Romania) I managed to dedicate more time to my passion and, in this way, I can see its development in a potential business. This is how the idea of AmoResin Handmade Creations was born, and with it, this new and beautiful challenge.

So what makes the difference, anyway? How can one become an advocate of their own creative spirit while keeping a safe amount of realism in their bones? In other words, how can one pursue their dream of being an artist and still make a living?

For Mihaela, it’s been consistency and determination. She has been present ever since in this story that she created for her. When she chose this path, she was brave enough to look herself in the eye and understand the risks, but also acknowledge that this choice represents her in many ways. And that, my friend, has everything to do with being authentic.

© Lucian Astilean

Staying true to oneself

Mihaela has been, somehow, telling her story through her work, because, as she beautifully puts it, “authenticity (is) a very good self-knowledge and a reckoning of what makes you unique and original. I wanted to give this sense of authenticity through my jewelry to the people who want to look different, to define and highlight their personality. Each AmoResin jewel is unique and unrepeatable, created from the heart, that has its own story and always expresses something… a state of mind, an attitude. The little imperfections that come out of its handmade process will always entail a sense of originality.

Integrity, responsibility and continuous learning – these are the core traits that Mihaela is building her life and work on. She believes that “the values are the inner basis of our life. This is why our behavior and our actions, the relationships that we create with our dear ones or with other people in general depend greatly on our values.

When you come to think of it, doing what you love is not such a faraway opportunity, as many fear it is. Yes, it takes bold moves and decisions at some point. It takes a little courage to embrace whatever makes your heart pop with joy and gets your blood flowing.

If there’s something that’s amazingly inspiring in Mihaela’s story is the fact that, unconditional of time and place, one can reshape their life course, take a new high road and reinterpret themselves.

All photo credits included in this article go to Lucian Astilean.

The main photo, with Mihaela, was taken during her presentation at a business pitch session. She eventually obtained a financial grant that will help her boost her jewelry business.

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