When it comes to choosing elegant precious jewelry, many shoppers have developed an eye for quality craftsmanship. Savvy jewelry lovers know that the very best pieces come in the form of handmade, one of a kind creations. And few can do handmade better than the work from home entrepreneurs that showcase their wares at craft fairs, farmers markets, and at online venues like Etsy and Artfire.
It is these crafters and creators that take our favorite materials - and often those we’ve never seen before - and turn them into works of art. They are often imitated, but never duplicated.
One incredibly talented designer, Marion McDonald of The Sea Fairies’ Jewelbox, uses her love of color and precious materials to create stunning accessories. Just one look at her collection could turn any department store shopper into a handmade devotee. With a University of California education in Art History, Architecture, and Italian Literature, it is clear why Marion McDonald’s passion for beautiful things shines through in her work.
Inspirational Beading: How did you first discover the art of jewelry making?
Marion McDonald: I have been making jewelry since I was a little girl. My aunt was an excellent fiber arts designer who made jewelry as well, so I learned my love of it and some technique from her. My first time selling my creations (or trying to sell, anyway) was when I lived in the country in upstate Vermont. I was 11 and made jewelry from discarded telephone wire, and my brother (who was 9) helped me sell it out on the nearest road.
Inspirational Beading: Where do you find the most inspiration?
Marion: In the natural world, the ocean in particular. Color combinations and textures that Mother Nature comes up with can be both soothing and almost monochromatic, or brightly eye-popping. I pay attention as I go through my day and file ideas away for future use. I also love the color palettes used in period mini-series, like BBC versions of Jane Austen's work, The Forsyte Saga, and Bleak House. The jewelry is often gorgeous, too, of course.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material to use in your designs?
Marion: I am so fickle when it comes to my favorite gemstones. I got obsessed with andalusite for a while, but my favorite right now is moss aquamarine. It's the most amazing steely blue-green color, like the ocean after a wave crashes, with flinty, foggy bits shot through it.
I never wore gold until a few years ago - I was almost 40! I got totally obsessed with it, especially with gold vermeil, which is sterling silver with an overlay of 24 carat gold. It's Murphy's law that I would discover gold when its price is at an all-time high!
Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite color combination for jewelry?
Marion: Oh, I suppose the classic pink and green would be a favorite. Purple and turquoise blue, gold and brown, blue shades all together....don't make me choose!
Inspirational Beading: Who do you hope to inspire with your work?
Marion: I'm not sure I inspire anyone, but I do think we need to embrace the beauty in this world. It makes me feel happy and satisfied when clients are so excited with their purchases, whether it's a bride or someone going to a work event, or just a new favorite pair of everyday earrings to kick around in.
Marion McDonald has spent much time living in and traveling through Italy. Her mermaid inspired color palettes are a direct result of her summer as an au pair on an island near Sicily. Today, she is a proud stay at home mom. With two young boys - Sam and Leo - in the house, designing jewelry for her shop is a relaxing activity and welcome respite. You can see more of her designs on Flickr, and check in with her latest activities on Twitter.
Copyright 2009 Inspirational Beading, seafairiesjewelbox