Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vendor Q&A with Mary Ellen Doran

What is your craft all about?
DC based artist Mary Ellen Doran has developed a unique line of hand linked chains and gemstone jewelry. There are many variations in size and design of the chains. Some chains contain links that are as small as 6 to one inch and some are made from links measuring larger than two inchs each. This link style has been incorporated in bracelet and earring designs where high quality gemstones are utilized for spectacular individual pieces.

How did you get started in your craft?
I come from a long line of crafters. My paternal grandfather turned wood, my maternal grandmother and all her sisters knitted and/or crocheted; my father worked in stained glass for years, designed his own latch hook rugs, and is currently making rosaries; my mother has always been into textiles – sewing, stitching, etc. she currently crochets lap blankets for hospices. As a child we were pulled out of school every Fall for three weeks to travel to a huge artisan show in Gatlinburg, TN where I fell in love with Craft – master woodworkers, glass blowers, ceramicists, and the like laid down a foundation in my soul. So when I found myself a stay-at-home mom, taking time off from my graphic design career, I had to find a non-toxic, easy clean up craft (which was not my norm) – so I started studying and playing around with jewelry concentrating on chain making. Months later I found myself with a new chain design that I was satisfied with and a low budget to get more supplies so I started selling stuff to my friends to feed my habit. The habit keeps growing and thankfully so has the support. Today, I look to my foundations of watching the Masters and strive for the highest quality possible in each piece I produce. I hope that those that buy my chains will be wearing them and enjoying them 10 or more years from now.

What inspires you to make what you make? I believe to understand your art you have to understand the roots from where it comes. So I read books and visit exhibits in art, art history, craft, and jewelry design on a regular basis to see what has been done before and use that to try to produce something new and exciting. My most recent research has been on the sterling silver designs of tribes in China in the 18th and 19th century. I also watch and read about the current design trends to see what contemporary artists are producing.

What is your favorite piece/product you will have with you at the Handmade Mart?
My craft started to get too “pretty” for me. So for the past year, I have been working on pieces that have rough edges and a little more weight to them. I wanted to provide a big splash of monochromatic color without relying on one single bead. I am very pleased with the current results in the horizontal “Wrapped” neck pieces and matching vertical earrings. I take tiny top-end gemstones and create a mass of color. The dance of light produced by the hundreds of facets in the tiny stones shows off these beautiful natural colors – but in a much more edgy and a bit more dramatic way.

Visit me at booth #47!

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