Artisan Feature – Colette Teurlings of BeLeaf Art

Colette Teurlings, of BeLeaf Art, reached out to me on Instagram, and her story immediately caught my attention. Her journey from her childhood in the Dutch countryside to her current nomadic lifestyle, traveling Europe and selling jewelry from her charming caravan, speaks volumes about her deep connection with nature and her boundless creativity.

What intrigued me most about Colette wasn’t just her art; it was her unconventional approach to selling it. She eschews traditional storefronts, opting instead to roam Europe like an old-world peddler, replenishing her collection along the way. But for Colette, it’s more than just commerce; it’s about forging connections—with nature, with her customers, and with herself. Her passion and inventiveness serve as a poignant reminder to find beauty in the world around us.

At the time, she didn’t even know we carried bezels, and the images we’re sharing of her jewelry aren’t Nunn Design findings but are remarkable because of her creative vision.

Eager to delve deeper into her unique story, I sent Colette a set of questions to explore her journey, her creative process, and the adventures that fuel her passion for art.

Introducing Colette Teurlings | BeLeaf Art

I grew up in the countryside in the South of the Netherlands with my sister and my parents (before they divorced) on a farm with a few chickens, 2 goats, 3 sheep, a dog, a cat, rabbits, etc. A big beautiful garden at the back. In front of the farm, we had a garden with only herbs and medicinal plants. My sister and I had a lot of young friends, and we were always playing outside. As a family, we hiked a lot in the beautiful nature in Holland. When we went on vacation, we always slept in tents in nature. It really was the best time of my life.

When I was 19, I moved to Amsterdam for university of applied science. I obtained my bachelor’s degree twice (2 different studies). After 6 years of studying, I started to work in Television (my 2 studies had nothing to do with television ;-). So I learned everything in Television by myself (from editing to directing, everything). I had workweeks of 90-100 hours a week. It was crazy.

11 years ago, I bought a garden house in a park with only garden houses. This was a big garden with ditches around and with a tiny house (28m2) where I was able to sleep in the season (from April till November). I made it like a real paradise. This was really outdoor living: my beautiful garden (I made from scratch), hammocks, campfires, outdoors work- & dining place with just a roof, little lounge areas on every corner. This was my own magical paradise. I had to sell this garden house in 2016 because of my evil neighbors. It was so sad to sell my little paradise…

One year later, I bought my camper; it’s actually a very cool small retro caravan.

This was the best idea to do. I am camping a lot from the end of March till about the end of November. – Colette

Becky: Can you share a specific memory or moment from your childhood when your fascination with nature began to shape your creative perspective?

Colette: I always was fascinated by nature, always! And as a child and youngster, I always was collecting nature to create things. About 15 years ago, all my friends started having kids, and still now I take all those kids in nature on adventures. We collect things to eat, to create something beautiful, etc.

Since about 5 years ago, I realized I really want to do something with nature (and wanted to quit as a filmmaker). But I did not know exactly how and what. The epiphany happened at the beginning of Corona

Becky: How long have you been creating your unique jewelry/art?

Colette: I’ve just started since Corona, early 2021. At the beginning of Corona I lost all my work as a film- & videomaker. I had a career as an editor and director in Dutch Television for many years and after that, I started in 2014 for myself as a documentary maker. I am very proud of my broadcasted documentary on Dutch television, which also was selected for the biggest film festival in the Netherlands (called ‘My upstairs neighbours’ (Mijn Bovenburen)). I see this project as my life work.

Since I lost my work as a filmmaker during and because of Corona, I went walking and wandering outside every day to be inspired by nature. (I’ve always been an ‘outdoorsy’; as an adventurous child, I was). I like to take photos of nature for years: here is my portfolio.

Because of the lockdown silence outside (there was hardly anyone outside), I looked much more closely at everything I saw in nature. I saw a lot of details that I liked so much. I started collecting flowers, leaves, mosses and, for example, birch bark, which I put in big books at home so that they were dried and pressed after a few weeks. After pressing and drying, the leaves were so beautiful; I fell ‘in love with it’.

Then I started making small and really large (for the big leaves) plant presses together with my father. So I could put my collection in there.

I initially started making framed art for on the wall: compositions of all kinds of leaves on beautiful paper. People immediately responded enthusiastically.

Because of my love for all those incredible details, I thought: it would be nice to have this in a piece of jewelry. I didn’t know that something like this already existed and I started researching how to preserve colorful leaves.

I soon discovered about pendants, epoxy, etc., etc. But I had never done anything like making jewelry before, so I experimented a lot….

Everything was completely new to me so I had a lot to learn. And that’s what I did. After many, many, many hours, I was finally satisfied with a few pendants and I showed them to friends and acquaintances. They loved them and people immediately started asking for more pendants.

Day and night I was busy creating, learning, experimenting, etc. I also made the company logo, business cards, did all the photography myself, created an Instagram account and much more.

As soon as it was allowed again (Corona wise), I packed my camper and went on another adventure. I took my jewelry with everywhere I went and everyone who saw it wanted to buy my jewelry. I also received assignments quite quickly.

Of course, I always had a few plant presses with me. This way I could always immediately dry and press beautiful flowers and leaves that I found.

After a few months, I was selling my jewelry on a creative market for the first time. People loved it!

Becky: Did you face a learning curve with any specific technique/material (e.g., resin, metal stamping, epoxy resin)? How did you overcome it?

Colette: Yes, I had a learning curve with almost everything. For me, good quality is very important. And I am a perfectionist. For example: when I noticed that the gold color of some pendants I bought faded away after a while, I went crazy ;-). I also found out that there is a lot of difference between the quality of resin….. I’ve watched many, many tutorials, read many, many blogs, e-books… you name it.

I found out that my jewelry is almost perfect when I work with more than 3 or 4 super thin layers of resin. It’s a lot of extra work, those layers. I also found out about the best way to cut all the different leaves and which equipment works well for me. and what is the best way for drying the epoxy (not in the sun when it’s hot 😉

I’ve learned a lot by reading blogs, watching tutorials, experimenting by myself, making a lot of mistakes….

Becky: How do you approach the design process for your art/jewelry pieces? Do you have a specific creative routine or method?

Colette: The leaves of the flowers and plant will lead me the way. I choose the leaves/petals because of the nerves, the lines, the thickness, the color, the shape, the pattern. And I look for perfection in leaves.

Then I cut details of leaves for the specific pendants. I work with about 6-10 pendants at the same time. After cutting, I glue the leaves in the pendants. Sometimes I use a tiny bit of epoxy, sometimes I use glue. It depends on the thickness of the leaves. I let this dry for 3-6 hours. After drying, I put the first layer of epoxy….. When it’s dry, I put the next layer…. Normally I use about 2-4 layers… depends on the leaves….. I am done when I think it’s really perfect.

Becky: Do you have a personal favorite piece that holds a special significance to you? If so, could you share the story behind it and describe the elements that make it particularly meaningful?

Colette: Yes, I wear it almost daily. It was my very first 100% sterling silver round pendant and I was a bit nervous to work with it because it’s expensive. With all my soul, I created this one with a perfect pressed and dried detail of a red/pink rose petal. This one is really perfect and the color is so intense… in a silver pendants….I really love this one (it is on my Insta; the 2nd photo of that sequence is better than the first one.)

Becky: How many shows or venues do you typically attend in a year?

Colette: Till now I was at markets like 4-5 times. My jewelry sells well, but I really don’t like to be at a market for selling. It feels too vulnerable. And it costs me too much time.

That’s why I sell my jewelry in small batches at a few other locations, such as a plant & flower store, a concept store, at the reception of one of the most hip and happening camping places in the Netherlands, in a very beautiful retreat center in Portugal with 45 hectares of nature around the center (I collect some of my leaves over there). And a picking garden on Saturdays when it’s flower season. And you can buy in my webshop of course.

Becky: Can you share any funny or memorable stories related to balancing work and family life?

Colette: In my first year of learning and creating, it was the only thing I did: totally obsessed. I didn’t even know which day it was anymore 😉

Every week I take care of the son of my sister (she’s a single mom) since he was born and my whole house was like a studio/workplace. Really messy. Leaves and petals everywhere, cutting equipment, epoxy, boxes, pendants, headlamps, magnifying glass, UV light….you name it.

The boy (Sam, -10 years old at that time- saw all that equipment and wanted to create with me. I really liked that idea. And for hours and hours and hours I was teaching him and we were creating together. Both of us were totally focused and obsessed and we had a lot of fun together. (He made two gorgeous pendants for his grandmother -my mother-.)

But…..I totally forgot the time….and I forgot that it was not in the weekend. I think it was about 22.30h when I realized that Sam has to go to school the next morning….oops.

Another funny thing is that especially the young boys (all the sons of my friends) around me were so amazed by my jewelry…… they also wanted to create jewelry.

So, I organized a workshop making jewelry with only those young boys ;-). They had a fantastic time and they’ve made gorgeous jewelry for their moms.

Becky: Can you reflect on some of the notable challenges you’ve encountered in running your creative business?

Colette: I think sometimes it’s too much work for just one person: creating, photography, running a webshop, marketing, admin….. etc etc etc.

There were weeks that I worked almost around the clock. For example: when I was in bed I was still doing research on my laptop to learn about the materials, how Shopify works etc etc …..all late….

I was so tired at one moment and I became so itchy….I realized….okay, this is toooo much, I have to calm down in working hours. I took a break for like 3-4 weeks. I slept a lot and I went on a camping adventure with my nephew and friends. Talked with other small business owners. I wrote a lot about my ideas and how to plan everything. Made a schedule ….. etc.

It worked!

Becky: With so many aspects of the business to oversee, how do you maintain a balance between the creative aspects of your craft and the operational aspects of running a business?

Colette: Pffff, I think it’s hard to find a good balance. Now I know that when I am creating, it has to be my main focus. After two weeks of creating: I have space in my head (and my home studio) for the operational aspects for the next weeks.

Becky: How do you stay creative and motivated during challenging times in your business?

Colette: When I am feeling not that motivated or creative, I just have to take my caravan and go to nice camping places (not commercial campings, but like micro campings in nature). Walk, read, make campfires, make lovely food, meet other people, relax….etc

Becky: Can you describe your typical morning routine?

Colette: When I wake up, I always do a practice/meditation/breathwork. Make some coffee. Take a shower (cold water in the end). After that, I always do stretching exercises. Check all my plants in my house and balcony. (When I am camping: I take a walk and look out for beautiful leaves, petals, or I am photographing nature.) Then I get to work in my studio.

Becky: What are your top three strengths as a creator/business owner?


  1. My passion and drive
  2. My perseverance
  3. My creativity

Becky: Are there any books you recommend for those aspiring to live a more committed creative life?

Colette: No, sorry ;-). Just go outside in nature. Go to museums, art galleries, etc.

Becky: How does living a creative life contribute to your overall happiness?

Colette: Creating my jewelry makes me zen and relaxed. I am totally in the moment and super focused. I forget everything around me… (but I also forget the hours when I am creating.) When a pendant is really perfect, it gives me such a good feeling. But also looking for and collecting leaves in nature gives me a lot of happiness and peace.

Thank you, Colette, for sharing your journey and insights with us. Your passion for nature-infused art is truly inspiring.

To view more of Colette’s creations, visit her on her Netherlands website:
Follow and support Colette on Instagram at: @beleaf_art

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