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5 questions with Challenge winner Margaret Graine

August Metal DC Winner

The winner of the Facet Design Challenge for August, 2016, was Margaret Graine for her piece, Romantic By Nature. The theme of the challenge was HARMONY. 

The composition of her necklace was based on the facets, colors and patterns inside the Canadian Ammonite. Using sterling silver and shibuichi, Margaret carried this design in a scaled-down form to create this necklace. Silver chain was also hand-made using sterling silver wire, and her finished work was then oxidized to emphasize darker patterns in the stone. It represents the harmony of design in both its color and shape. Stunning! 


Margaret is a jewelry designer who has located her business, House of Jasper Silver Studio, in the shadows of Mount Robson in McBride, British Columbia, Canada. She always had a sense of what she wanted to accomplish in her life: born in Poland, she grew up dreaming of a little house with a white picket fence, beautiful flower garden and a dog to keep her company. There was only one condition: this house must be located in Canada! It didn’t matter WHERE in Canada, just not in Poland.

By age 20, she saved enough to buy a passage to her dream. But then everyday reality took over: job, family, corporate advancement and NO picket fence yet… but while life was happening, she continued to feed her desire for art and gain inspiration by visiting art galleries and museums. Eventually the kids grew up and got replaced with not one but two dogs, and it became time to quit the corporate world and pursue the dream. When traveling in the Rockies, she finally found just the right place: the mountains, lush forests and sparkling mountain brooks of the Robson Valley became her home. This is where she draws her inspiration: rivers, stones, glaciers and pine trees turn into contemporary, one-of-a-kind jewelry using silver and gemstones.


1. SO, ARE YOU A PROFESSIONAL JEWELRY-MAKER, OR IS THIS A HOBBY?     That’s a good question. I think that I am a “professional artisan,” if we can call it that. In a recent article I read, “If you don’t have any customers, then it is a hobby.” Well, I have customers!  Some actually collect my work, some bring sentimental family heirlooms and work with me to “give it a new life” so they can enjoy wearing it today.

I can’t remember a specific time when I began designing. Always? I have a little black book where I visualized my jewelry design, hoping that one day I will be able to create. Ten years ago, I finally was brave enough to invest in tools so I can create.

2. HOW DID YOU LEARN JEWELRY-MAKING?      In 2000, I started collecting Lapidary Journal, Art Jewelry, Wirework and Bead&Button magazines and they were a source of inspiration and education. I started with simple projects and quickly learned that people really like my work. Since I’ve always like to challenge myself, about 10 years ago I decided to expand from beading & wire to silversmithing. Originally, I combined the two styles but working with metals gave me more designing flexibility.

My learning never stops. I have a lot to “say” and to do that successfully I must continue upgrading my skills and expand my collection of tools. The collection of magazines is my go-to place for inspiration and problem solving. Step-by-step projects are especially helpful in learning what mistakes to avoid; however, sometimes mistakes are unavoidable, and I learn from them. 


3. WHAT STYLE OF JEWELRY DO YOU MAKE?      Modern, with a European touch. I don’t embellish, I like to focus the attention on the stone. Since I design my collections around the stones, I lead the eye from the focal point to the wearers’ face. My motto: less is more. I create a wearable art that makes me happy. I envision the wearer and a smile on their face when they first discover my work. Someone once said that “jewelry is not successful until is at home with someone,” and I believe that to be true. As I challenge myself, I like to challenge the wearer with my unique, conversational compositions. 

4. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MATERIALS TO USE IN YOUR WORK?     I like pairing sterling with various alloys to create my compositions. Natural, unenhanced inclusions in gems stir my imagination. My head explodes in Tucson Gem Show. I visit every year. I also like to create contrast between oxidized silver and other metals such as yellow gold, or various alloys while keeping emphasis on the focal stone.

In my studio, I have lots of rocks, driftwood collected on my hikes. I draw inspiration from nature-created shapes and in the winter everything is covered with snow.

5. WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?     Like many, I am inspired by nature and I often find inspiration while hiking in the mountains. There are so many new things to see every day, new plants, animals, colors of the seasons. I look at melting glacier and ask: where does this water go? Do icebergs in Alaska melt just like my glacier? I actually created a collection, Plight of the Polar Bear, trying to answer my own question: How does mama bear adapts to change? Does she teach her cubs the ways of the “new” tomorrow? I used Larimar in that collection.

You can purchase Margaret's work from her Etsy store, HouseofJasper, and also find her under the same name on Facebook or Instagram!
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