Desert Mama- Who is Jo and where can we find her? Tell us about yourself:

Jo Hi! I’m Jo, I am a nomadic and eclectic weirdo residing on the West coast. I have two dogs, own a small business making jewelry & selling vintage, and I work part time in the Emerald Triangle.

I currently have a homebase while I complete some big projects like delving into my jewelry designs more and restoring two k5 Blazers, one of which will be modeled after the Chevy Chalets. I had a K5 priorto this and she uh, caught on fire so I’m rebuilding!

DM- How long have you been designing jewelry and when did the love for this art come about? Tell us about how you started Ozma Autonomy:

J- When i was 19 i was in art school, i was really angry with the excess of RX pills floating around, they were legal but still too easy to access. So I started collecting as many as I could and I put them into resin pendants. It was really rudimentary and not executed well. I took a jewelry course in my college and left that class with a D+.

Later on I moved to Brooklyn and was hoping to intern with a photographer but she needed someone with more experience, at the end of our interview she asked what else I liked to do and I mentioned jewelry. She told me one of the other people in her studio building needed an intern so I worked for Digby & Iona for about a year. Then it just took off from there, it’s been a slow build for about a decade now.

I coined the name OZMA autonomy in 2012, named after theprincess from the Wizard of Oz books but more inspired by the film adaptation Return to Oz.

DM- Who taught you how to do this?

J- I learned from a bunch of other designers, trial and error, classes here and there, and mostly myself when I actually think about it.

DM- What inspires you, and what other artist currently working do you admire?

J- Being an artist is strange, sometimes I don’t think of inspiration as such, I think of it as more of a necessity. Like I do what I do because it’s all I can do? I don’t know how else to function in this world. But overall I’m mostly inspired by music, culture around me, and my friends. It’s eclectic and interwoven.

Naming the artists is tough, there’s so many of them. I’m really into Wholly Toledo’s work as a chain maille artist, Screaming Females (a band), my friend Gabe makes puppets & is a puppeteer for an amusement park named Knoebels, Boss Dog, You Pay You Play, my friend Jag’s tattoo work (Sweetheart Tattoo in Portland), photographer Aaron Bird, photographer Erica Stein, the last two are actually a couple and they’re both incredible creatives! Gah, there’s really a lot more I’d like to name but these are the people who come to mind.

DM- Show us your best work by now and tell us why you love it:

J- These are two of my recent finished pieces.
The black widow charm was created from a cast of a real black widow that i captured, fixed in place, electroformed, and molded. She can be found in my black widow hoops as well. The second photo is of the Retrospect earrings, I spend a lot of time driving and my life has been a gamble so this seemed appropriate, haha.

DM- The part you love the most of what you do, and the worst part:

J- I love how much freedom I have, i can make as much or as little work as I want to depending on what my bank account looks like and what weird obstacles my life is presenting at the time.

Freedom is important to me.

The thing I like least is not having consistency in certain areas of my work.

DM- Where and how would you like to see yourself 10 years fromnow?

JI would really love to have a house built on a 20+ acre property where I can work and play with my animals, maybe have a kid maybe not, and an apartment in a city. Preferably somewhere on the east coast, likely PA and NYC for those two. I’d like to just be making jewelry full time.

DM- Which is your best memory of when you were a child:

J- I suppose my favorite thing growin up was our only family vacation once a year was for my moms birthday in late June, we would drive about an hour and a half away and stay in a cabin at Knoebels. It’s a strange and magical place and I miss it often.

DM- Your best quality and your worst defect:

J- Best quality, oof. I love fast and hard.

Worst defect is also I love fast and hard.

DM- What makes you angry:

J- People who enable abusers and bullies. I expect abusers and bullies to be garbage people, it’s more disheartening when I find out someone else is enabling those people to any degree.

The climate crisis makes me angry, avoidant people make me angry, people who camp in the passing lane, people who don’t use turn signals, racists make me angry.

Basically, a lot of shit makes me angry!

DM- What do you do for fun?

J- Cuddle my dogs, roam around in my rig between jobs, going to shows, swimming at night, binging on tacos and sushi when I can, watching campy horror movies, and thrifting.

DM- A success and a failure:

J- Leaving the east coast, I gained a lot of independence through my stubbornness and willingness to get out.

Failure, oh so many to name. Generally speaking, trusting the wrong people or giving people chances when my intuition told me otherwise.


– A phrase: Birds of feather, flock together.

– A film: Wings of Desire.

– A drink: Hot Toddy.

– A song: Mr. Blue – Yaz.

– A book: Childhoods End.

– A country: Scotland.


  • Ten years in a coma / Ten years in jail (Depends on when you ask me this, I suppose jail would be more fun than waking up with my muscles being soup.)
  • City lifeCountry life (Oh, you got me on this one. I am an extremist and my dream is to have a home in the country and an apartment in a city. I love both too much. Can’t choose!)
  • Talking to animals /  Talking to the dead 
  • Having more time / Having more money (Money, it could buy me some time.)
  • Constantly winter / Constantly summer 
  • Having a family with 5 kids / Not having kids at all (Five is too many, I’d take zero.)
  • Always having your tees two sizes bigger / Having them one size small
  • Something organized / Something improvised
  • Visiting the past / Visiting the future
  • Being unable to see / Being unable to hear (ohhh no no no! Hear? Ya know what, just kill me if I loose either.)
  • Reality/ Fiction
  • Light on / Light off 
  • Motorcycle trip / Car trip (I have two dogs!)
  • Never leaving your city / Not being able to return (Ouch?)
  • Continuing with your life / Restarting your life 
  • Being submissive / Being dominant
  • Knowing what you will die of / Knowing what day you will
  • Waking up in a desert / In a boat in the middle of the Ocean 
  • Music concert / Theater play
  • Only eating salty food/ Only eating sweet food