Ramona artist’s Halloween jewelry can be whimsical or downright creepy

Like many artists, Ramona resident Katie Tamura believes “art should make you feel something.”

Unlike many artists, Tamura likes to create pieces that make people feel uncomfortable.

Tamura’s art typically features her handmade jewelry. And with Halloween just around the corner, the shape, construction and subjects of her Creepy Katie’s Curiosities pieces often either delight — or terrify— her fans.

Many of her pieces feature ghosts, witch hats, cauldrons, potion bottles, voodoo dolls, skulls, crescent moons, creepy crawlies and “things that make people freak.”

“My specialty is full-scale metal fabrication, soldering. I do all of the work myself,” she says.

Her pieces often combine metals, such as silver, copper and brass. She’s unafraid of mixing antique and vintage bits and bobs into her jewelry, and even makes her own chains for her necklaces.

The spider the web and even the chain were all handmade by Katie Tamura.

The spider the web and even the chain were all handmade by Katie Tamura.

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“Everything is one of a kind,” she says. “I don’t mass produce anything. I like keeping things unique.”

Tamura gets her inspiration from books, horror movies, classic witchcraft, the occult and “all the weird, cute, spooky stuff,” she says. She sells her items online, through both her website and Facebook.

The combination of her subjects and the items she uses to make them causes some people to get “acutely uneasy,” she says. “I use real bones, teeth, bug parts such as scarab wings, even shed snake skin. I even turned my boyfriend’s wisdom teeth into earrings.”

Tamura deals with the reactions matter-of-factly.

“Some people get weirded out and some get grossed out,” she says.

Not all of her items are scary; she says she does some “Harry Potter fandom”-type pieces, and others “just for fun.”

For example, Tamura has been designing a lot of pieces with eyes lately. Not flat, obviously fake eyeballs, but vintage and unusual orbs, such as a necklace featuring an antique glass albino deer eye.

Katie Tamura made the setting for this eye piece, which is either looking right at you—or right through you.

Katie Tamura made the setting for this eye piece, which is either looking right at you—or right through you.

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Describing the piece, she says, the eye is “lovingly wreathed in a custom filigree brass spiderweb bezel, weeping bloody vintage crystal tears and crowned with a faceted onyx glass and silver dangle.”

Another item — a ring she created — features an antique glass doll eye set in a silver rope. The piece is not only “eye catching,” but unsettling and fascinating all at the same time.

She credits her parents, Stanley and Julie Tamura, for her artistic sensibilities.

“My whole family is artsy,” she says. “I grew up around it. My mom does stained glass and fiber arts. My dad is a blacksmith, and makes swords and knives.”

Aside from her interest in jewelry, she creates miniature weapons, such as meat cleavers and knives — skills she learned from her dad.

“He started teaching me how to do all this stuff with torches and saws when I was just 10 years old. I’ve been doing it now more than 20 years,” she says.

The family was fully dressed out at a Renaissance/Pirate Faire they attended; from left, Julie, Stanley and Katie Tamura.

The family was fully dressed out at a Renaissance/Pirate Faire they attended pre-pandemic; from left, Julie, Stanley and Katie Tamura.

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While her dad’s style is very traditional, she likes to mix it up.

“I have all kinds of things that interest me,” she said. “I enjoy the challenge of my work. I often don’t know precisely where I’m going with my work, but I start with an idea and a shape and go from there.”

A former chef, Tamura was sidelined by an injury and recently moved back in with her parents. Although she had always made jewelry, she decided to try setting up a vendor booth at a Halloween/Horror-type show. Unfortunately, the show was canceled because of COVID-19. With her options dwindling, she quickly set up an online business.

“The business started to come along really quickly; she’s doing a great job,” says her mother, Julie Tamura. “She already has quite a following on Facebook and several repeat buyers. Her stuff is very appealing to people who celebrate Halloween all year long.”

Her folks also welcomed their daughter’s menagerie of pets, including two cats — black, of course.

Elvira has golden eyes and Soot Sprite has green eyes, and both are solid black, Katie Tamura says. She also has four pet snakes and two tarantulas.

For the past 22 years, Tamura has been raising carnivorous plants, a collection that includes Venus flytraps, American and tropical pitcher plants, sundews and bladderworts.

“I got my first Venus flytrap plant when I was just 8 years old,” she says.

She still cooks for her parents, although most of it is “typical” foods. But some of her cooking tools — a bat rolling pin, a brain mold and weird cookie cutters — are appropriately offbeat, her mother says.

When reflecting on her early years, Katie Tamura relates that she and her older brother, Jeffery, had a very colorful life with lots of interesting experiences.

“I never thought of any of the stuff I was doing as being that weird,” she says. “My childhood was a mix of Girl Scouts and friends with horses and livestock and typical rural Ramona.”

She adds, “My dad kind of raised me and my brother to respect living things and not to fear them.”

Katie Tamura and her boyfriend, David Vincent, attended a MidSummer Scream Horror Convention held in Long Beach.

Before COVID-19, Katie Tamura and her boyfriend, David Vincent, attended a MidSummer Scream Horror Convention held in Long Beach.

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She’s taken that approach throughout her life. While at Grossmont College studying to be a chef, she received Culinary, Chocolate and Pastry degrees. She also was a competition fencer. And she’s taken cliff jumps over Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach.

As a result, whether it’s life or her art, she says, “I don’t have any of the usual fears; I’m just not afraid of things.”

Katie Tamura’s jewelry and other items can be seen and purchased on her website, www.creepykatiescuriosities.bigcartel.com, on Facebook, Facebook.com/creepykatiescuriosities or Instagram, Instagram.com/creepy_katies_curiosities.

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