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12 Apr

How Graciella Masterton’s butterfly tooth gems took over Los

The tooth jeweller and musician discusses Mexican upbringing, the Mayan origins of tooth gems, and the way she brought butterfly smiles to the world

4 Swarovski crystals glisten under a pair of lined lips and clear gloss. Two are classic circles; the others are marquise cuts. They adorn the highest incisors, beside a lone gem on the tooth to the best. Together, they turn out to be a holographic butterfly, with Graciella Masterton’s small gap acting because the body between the wings.

When Masterton shared her creation back in January 2021, it was eight months before tooth gems became TikTok’s favourite Y2K accessory, and a 12 months before WWD predicted a full revival for 2022. Since then, decorative teeth jewellery has dominated the wonder space and Masterton’s trademark butterfly smiles have was a beloved placement.

Becoming a trend-setting tooth jeweller wasn’t at all times in Masterton’s intended plans, nonetheless. She was first a model and make-up artist, who would get her own teeth embellished with diamonds by Michelle from Sugar Tooth Jewels. When she saw that Michelle was offering training, Masterton thought it might be the proper side gig. “I loved doing makeup, but I knew it was going to take me time to construct a portfolio and find a way to do make-up full-time, which was the dream at first,” she says. Her plans all modified after starting @toothgemsbygrac13lla and seeing how much people loved her designs.

Born in LA, raised in San Miguel de Allende Guanajuato, Mexico, Masterton’s connection to tooth artistry and gems is tied to her cultural history and Mayan origins. “As a proud Latina, [that] made them more special to me,” she says. “This shit is part of something way greater than a gem and a few dental-grade composite. It’s history.” Growing up in a “tiny little town” in Mexico, she wasn’t exposed to numerous popular culture but, she says, she learnt to “find inspiration in on a regular basis life and romanticise the seemingly mundane”. Here, she tells us more.

Growing up, what informed your understanding of beauty and the way in which you presented yourself?

Graciella Masterson: My mom was strict growing up – I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up and had to decorate ‘appropriately’. After all, my mom telling me no, just made me wish to do it more. I didn’t know what I used to be doing: I’d poorly apply the stolen make-up that I hid from my mom. I don’t think I assumed I used to be pretty, so I used to be focused on being funny, and making my friends think so too. 

San Miguel is a tiny little town that didn’t have numerous places to buy make-up or clothing. I also wasn’t raised on popular culture and wasn’t really exposed to it. My dad loved hip-hop and rap – I used to be placed on to that greater than anything. Someday at a sleepover, I saw Gwen Stefani singing “Wealthy Girl” on MTV and I swear my eyes dilated. She single-handedly introduced me to that world.  

Did that change in any respect when you moved to Los Angeles?

Graciella Masterson: 100 per cent. I moved here during eighth grade and was introduced to a lot, all of sudden. It was a culture shock, I definitely had some catching as much as do. But I also found that I slot in very well here. I used to be at all times an expressive child and teenage, but I don’t think I knew what the best outlet was. Once I moved to LA, I got far more adventurous with make-up, fashion, hair, nails, the whole lot really. I realised how easy it was to access things I desired to wear that I only saw in music videos or movies. I felt more comfortable expressing myself in LA than I did in Mexico.

What are your thoughts about teeth as a fashion statement? What do you’re thinking that tooth gems add?

Graciella Masterson: Teeth have been a fashion statement for hundreds of years. Ohaguro, the custom of dyeing your teeth black, was considered alluring and delightful in Japan. Grillz have been around for the reason that seventeenth century, and the Mayans have drilled and filled their teeth with precious gemstones since 1800 BC. It’s nothing recent, but tooth gems add a complete other element: they catch your eye while you speak and smile; they draw you in the identical way all body modification does. They could be subtle and chic or an all-out statement.

How do you’re feeling about people getting tooth gems while being blind to their origin in ancient Mayan communities?

Graciella Masterson: With all body modifications, it’s vital to look into the history behind them. I understand it’s not common knowledge, but this shit is part of something way greater than a gem and a few dental-grade composite. It’s history. I don’t think that ought to stop anyone from getting a gem – just don’t go around pondering you began a trend as soon as you get one. Regardless, I really like how popular tooth gems have turn out to be, and I feel everyone should experience how they make you’re feeling.

The Swarovski butterfly is my absolute favourite, and one I wanted to truly get myself. How did you provide you with that? 

Graciella Masterson: I saw a tooth jeweller in Seoul Korea create an identical design using different sizes of teardrop-shaped gems to create a dragonfly design. I never thought of creating designs aside from what my clients asked for. I sat sooner or later and commenced fooling around, seeing what I could provide you with. I had just bought these navette-shaped Swarovski because they caught my eye. After some time, I got here up with that perfect little butterfly. I applied the entire butterfly on one tooth at first. It was cute, however it wasn’t successful yet. It was hard to get people to want crazier designs because they weren’t popular then. [Some time later] I randomly revisited the butterfly and put it across my two front teeth. After that, it was a wrap.

What’s it like working at Girlxfriendla?

Graciella Masterson: Absolutely amazing. I’ve known Milla Press, the founding father of Girlxfriendla, for so long as I’ve been doing tooth gems. Working in an all-female and femme non-binary space has been the very best experience. The environment is unlike anywhere else I’ve worked. Milla is attempting to make the tattoo industry feel safer for other women and queer people because there aren’t many tattoo shops like this that exist. I can wear whatever I would like to work and never feel sexualized which I’m not used to. I feel heard regardless that I actually have zero complaints. I really like who I work with! We’re family.

You latterly began making music as well. How do you’re thinking that the music industry interacts with the wonder world?

Graciella Masterson: They’re each types of self-expression and are so intimate. I feel of beauty the identical way people consider their rising sign up astrology: the way you come off, the way in which you’re perceived. But make-up gives you some control over that. It lets you be whoever you’re feeling like being. Music creates a protected space so that you can feel how you wish to feel, say what you might want to say. The industries go hand in hand – behind every amazing musician is an incredible beauty team curating every serve.

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