Tell me for what you yearn, and I shall tell you who you are. We are what we reach for, the idealized version that drives our wandering. Pothos, as the wider factor in eros, drives the sailor-wanderer to quest for what cannot be fulfilled and what must be impossible. –James Hillman, author and American psychologist.
As an artist and self-described wanderer, a seeker of adventure, and a therapist in training who works with recovering addicts, Amanda Espy is deeply connected with the teachings and philosophy of archetypal psychologist James Hillman, who depicts the human soul as having many directions and sources of meaning, often in conflict.
"I read this quote about pothos, and whenever I read it, I felt that it completely captured where I was at in my life as an artist, and I also felt the entire sort of wandering feeling of my whole generation."
Pothos is one of three types of love, Espy explains, as a weighty silver pendant on her necklace shifts side to side, revealing beautifully intricate and ornate detailing. Pothos is a type of longing for something that you can never have. She named her budding line of handmade charms and enchanting medallions Pothos Jewelry. Each piece like the one she's wearing – her interpretation of an Ethiopian cross – is symbolic. Symbols and how they're interpreted are also core to Hillman's theories and those of his predecessors, Edward Casey, Henry Corbin, and Carl Jung.
"[Ethiopian crosses] are beautiful and tribal. To me they symbolize the inability to destroy someone's essence."
Espy makes them through a laborious and highly skilled process called lost-wax casting in which her silver and gold creations are cast from a sculpted design. The Pothos Jewelry line includes an Ethiopian Cuff and other sculptural baubles such as the Apollo Ring, brass Moon Cuff and a trio of triangular Trinity Necklaces, some of which are carried at EPIC, the Echo Park Independent Co-Op. She's also open to custom requests. She made a set of wedding bands for friends that incorporated a sliver of wood from the land where they purchased a home. She's also a trained ceramicist and pattern maker. She can sing, she can dance, she can pickle vegetables.
"I do these things and my friends will say, 'You're so hip.' It's either that or I'm so country," Espy laughs.
Raised in a small town outside of Missouri, she was brought up with a make-it-work attitude. Make it yourself or find somebody who does and make a trade.
She moved to Santa Monica in 2006 with her then-boyfriend, but when the relationship ended, she decided to stay and make it work. With her many skills and ability to thrive in pretty much any creative capacity, she got a job as a children's clothing designer and waited tables. Now she's finishing graduate studies, training to become a therapist and helping recovering addicts at the Beit T'Shuvah center in West LA. And yes, she continues to add new designs to Pothos Jewelry, endlessly ambitious, constantly seeking and balancing it all beautifully.
"It takes a lot of risk, bravery and courage," says Espy. "But, it always works out."