We love shining a spotlight on amazing small businesses, and this month we are talking to Tara Magboo, the artist and jeweler behind Adorable Mayhem! Let’s get to know her a little more, and then get ready for an adorable giveaway!

Hi Tara! Would you tell us a little about yourself?

Since I was a child, I loved to draw, paint and sculpt. I knew from a very young age that the creative path was the one destined for me. I know that the life of an artist is not necessarily the easiest, but there is nothing that is as gratifying to me as making work with my hands. Because of my love of art, I, naturally, went on to study Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Later, I pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree in Jewelry and Metalsmithing at San Diego State University. Currently, I have a small jewelry business through which I sell my jewelry line, Adorable Mayhem. In addition, I also teach jewelry courses at Whaley Studios, which is a private jewelry school based in San Diego. I also help out another jeweler that owns a small custom fine jewelry company.

How did you start making jewelry?

Interestingly enough, I fell into jewelry making quite by accident! This took place while I was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. Going into college I was primarily interested in two-dimensional design, therefore Illustration was a perfect fit for me. However, during my Junior year in college, I didn’t place into a popular Illustration class. Though disappointing, I used this as an opportunity to fulfill some of my out-of-major requirements. I scrambled to look for a class that would fit my schedule and found out that Jewelry Fabrication had some space available. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what a popular course this was! When I arrived to crash the first class, there were ten other people also vying to take this course! The instructor decided to put the names of all the wait-listed students into a box and she would then randomly pick two students to fill the last empty spots! I resigned myself, at that moment, to search for another class as the odds were stacked against me. To my surprise, the instructor called my name as she drew my slip of paper out of the box! As it turned out, I fell in love with metalworking! It was as if jewelry making was destined for me. I loved the intimate scale of jewelry and enjoyed the detailed, methodical process. I was hooked! I continued to take jewelry courses until I graduated. After school, I sought work in the jewelry industry and have been working in the field for almost 20 years. I worked in a variety positions, such as head jeweler for a fashion jewelry company and as a hardware designer for a luxury bag company. I would definitely say that I gained the majority of my jewelry making skills through working in the industry.

When I started my own jewelry line, I focused on making animal characters and plant forms. All the jewelry is representational and has a children’s book illustration feel. It’s interesting how my drawing abilities and jewelry skills have come full circle and are both equally intertwined in my work.

Image courtesy of Adorable Mayhem, available on etsy

So much of your jewelry is based on Nature. Is there a connection there?

I’ve always loved animals and caring for the environment. I know this is why I’ve always been drawn to Nature as a subject for the majority of my artwork since as far back as I can remember.

In terms of aesthetic, I am also inspired by Japanese popular culture and animation. As a kid, I loved the bright colors and cute characters from the company Sanrio, such as Hello Kitty or My Melody. I also loved Hasbro toys and was obsessed with My Little Ponies in the 80s. These were things that I loved as a kid and I try to infuse those happy memories into many of my jewelry pieces. My hope is for my jewelry work to bring a little joy into people’s lives.

Because I do love Nature, I try my best to use environmentally-friendly options in my jewelry practice. First, I try to use as much recycled metal as possible, especially with silver and gold. The mining practices for precious metals is particularly harmful to the environment. In addition, I try to minimize the amount of toxic chemicals that I use in the jewelry making process and opt for safer replacements.

I also draw inspiration from things in my childhood.

image courtesy of Adorable Mayhem, available on etsy

Top 5 things you geek out about:

  1. Desserts! I have a tremendous sweet tooth and I’m always on the hunt for anything different or interesting. I love cookies, donuts, cake, good chocolate, almost anything!
  2. I love plants! I think I may need to go to a 12-step program for my plant addiction as I may have too many plants! I have a nice variety: lots of air plants, lots succulents, some orchids, a couple of dragon fruit trees, a star fruit tree, goji berry bushes, and a couple of geraniums.
  3. Tools. I am crazy about tools! I jump on any opportunity to buy new jewelry tools with no hesitation! I obviously enjoy using tools to create my work, but I also like to organize them, take care of them, and just merely look at them. Yeah, I’m definitely addicted. I would buy tools over clothes, shoes and handbags any day!
  4. Japanese craft. I have deep respect for Japanese craftsmen. The culture reveres their craft tradition and even honors exceptional artisans with the title “Living Treasure”. Everything from paper making to ceramics to woodworking is exquisitely made. I love the care and attention to detail in Japanese craft. As a maker, I genuinely appreciate
    well-designed and well-made objects and it’s nice to see artists that take great pride in the work they make. I’ve collected several items from my travels to Japan: hand-carved wooden combs, beautifully made paper, lacquerware, and ceramics.
  5. The color seafoam blue or light turquoise. If I see anything that is this color, I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame!

When ordering pizza, what toppings do you get?

Oooo…pizza! I would order a pizza with crushed garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and vegan cheese!

image courtesy of Adorable Mayhem, available on etsy

Is there any exciting news you want to share?

Yes! I have many projects in the works that I’m excited about! I am in the process of building my website. It’s been under construction for a little while now, but it will be completed by the end of August. However, I currently have an Etsy site for my Adorable Mayhem line where people can shop at in the meantime. Several new pieces have been recently added to my shop! I’m currently working on a couple of new designs: a pineapple with plumeria accents and a cupcake which should be available by the end of August. I created a few pieces for a fine jewelry line that I debuted at Comic-Con which I will be including in my new website! Those of you who didn’t get a chance to view the pieces at the show, can see the collection and shop when the site goes live. I have an elaborate arm cuff I’m working on which I’m hoping to finish sometime in September. It’s meant to be more of a show piece and will incorporate plenty of stone-setting! I will make the big reveal on social media and on my upcoming website. I’m really happy with how it’s turning out so far!

The last big piece of news I would like to share is the re-opening of the UCSD Crafts Center which is slated to open in 2020. The ground-breaking recently took place this past June. I volunteered and taught there from 2000-2012 and it was a wonderful community to be a part of. It suddenly closed down much to everyone’s surprise due to lack of funding and the building’s structural issues. I’ve been helping a good friend of mine try to encourage UCSD’s administration to re-open and rebuild the Crafts Center. After many years of continuous effort, it finally paid off! I have to say most of the credit should go to my friend, Helen Kagan. She’s a fighter and this would never have happened without her. I worked with UCSD’s architecture team to help design the new jewelry facility for the new Crafts Center. This is definitely a dream come true! The great thing is that the school will continue to be open to the public as well as the students of UCSD. Everyone is welcome to take courses there!

Where can we find you?

I am a regular exhibitor at San Diego Comic-Con International. Find my Adorable Mayhem at booth #4537. If you are attending Comic-Con in 2019, stop by! I may also exhibit at Designer Con next year, 2019. That show is in Anaheim and takes place in November.

I also teach jewelry classes at Whaley Studios! Check out my upcoming classes at: www.whaleystudios.com

My website will be up and running by the end of August at www.adorablemayhem.com

Meanwhile, you can shop for Adorable Mayhem jewelry on etsy!

You can also check me out on

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Tara! 

Tara has been generous enough to offer one of her pieces as a giveaway item!

Handmade ladybug necklace from Adorable Mayhem

This beautiful bronze ladybug necklace is handmade, including the toggle clasp and quality tag on the necklace, and retails online for 72 USD.

bronze ladybug necklace. The toggle clasp and quality tag on the necklace is also handmade

You can enter to win below! Open to all IGGPPC members!

Adorable Mayhem Ladybug Necklace Giveaway

Want to get something else? Use code IGGLES15 in the Adorable Mayhem etsy shop for 15% off your purchase!

Thanks again to Tara Magboo for taking the time and being so generous!