Friday Interview: Meghan Patrice Riley! September 23, 2011 07:23 1 Comment

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I'd like to introduce you to New York jewelry designer, Meghan Patrice Riley. Since I've barely taken her earrings out since I bought them, I had to learn a little bit more about Meghan and her unique jewelry collection. Read on to learn a little more about Meghan and then come in and see her jewelry in person.  

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business.
Hello! I'm Meghan and I design under my eponymous jewelry company, Meghan Patrice Riley. I fabricate jewelry from primarily wire and tubing using materials such as nylon-coated steel, sterling silver, 14k gold fill and semi-precious stone. I originally started in 2008 doing fine jewelry in 18k gold and sterling silver but started to experiment with nylon-coated steel and created a production line based on those experimentations.

Describe your studio for us.
Ha, tricked you! The picture of my studio is misleading. This is a picture of me in my (huge) old studio space in San Francisco. I shared a space with a welder, jeweler, painter, and was amazing! All that natural light! I currently have the same set-up in the dining area of my NYC apartment but it just feels more compact because, well, everything feels more compact in NYC. It's becoming even more compact because I have started working with two assistants to help fabricate and market my work.
I generally use my workbench to fabricate and solder all my findings and I have a nice long table where I lay out my production work and components as I compile an order. My other key equipment are my tumblers, HUGE collection of pliers, and computer for hulu/netflix/pandora/youtube/itunes.

Can you tell us how your background in math and geometry influence your work?
I definitely see that my academic background has influenced my aesthetic choices. I use a lot of geometric shapes as the foundation for pieces and am really careful about proportion and the number of components I use. It's not apparent at all but I am conscious about using odd numbers because I find that I like the look of pieces with 3, 5, or 7 main design elements. I also like playing with symmetry/asymmetry and changing small things like color to give every piece a slight asymmetry.

What inspired you to use traditional textile techniques with unique materials in your work?
Before I pursued metalsmithing, I had played with ceramics and textiles in college. One of my good friends majored in textiles and it was from her that I learned about knitting, crochet, shibori, card weaving- the myriad textile arts. When I first started taking metalsmithing classes I found myself drawn to line; I loved working in wire, manipulating it to create woven pieces. I experimented with casting, enameling, forming but came back to my foundation in wire. The wire that I use now really lends itself well to textile techniques because it has a flexibility that is similar to fiber but the strength of metal.

What is your most treasured handmade item?
I have a vibrant hand-embroidered satin and velvet shirt from an designer in Oaxaca that I never wear but can never part with! I want to hang it on the wall it's so pretty. I feel like a modern day Frida wearing it, sans brows. I also have an amazing collection of jewelry from fellow designers that I cherish- I do hang these pieces up on the wall for inspiration and decoration.

What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade has changed a lot over the past couple of years from crafty to being associated with a range of well-designed, highly-curated products. I value handmade because I find quality, forward design and I know that the designer is being paid a fair wage and I'm supporting the local economy.  I also feel that handmade is where experimentation is happening because the creator is intimately involved in the design and construction.

How did you become involved with Craftland?
I met Devienna Anggraini at Buyer's Market of American Craft awhile back and she encouraged me to apply for the Craftland holiday show. Which brings up a good point, networking with your fellow makers/peers at shows and events is so important to creating your own community and for sharing information. This job is generally pretty lonely and it's important to connect with like-minded peers.


Guilty pleasure?
Amazingly bad/good hip hop. I miss not having a car and flipping stations to find some Lil' Wayne. My new fave is Kreayshawn, it's a daily youtube must for me.