When I posted a thread on Etsy's forums about featuring an artist/shop on my blog I received many replies. Who wouldn't want to be featured? But when I learned of Mary Katherine Barrett's shop "Meristem," I knew immediately who was going to be the first to be featured. Aside from the gorgeous and unique jewelry in her shop, Mary Katherine's profile was the deciding factor. Her profile and item descriptions (especially one relating a piece to Tom Robbins) vividly describe the inspirations and motivations behind her work. With this interview I look to bring her descriptions, her work, and her person to a wider audience.
1. How long have you been making jewelry and/or crafting for?
I think I've been crafting forever.. My mother is a professional artist, a painter..My childhood was packed with arts and crafts..Everything in our house was painted, re-done, re-finished, or jazzed up somehow.. When I went to college I majored in philosophy and minored in ceramics.. I love sculpting but couldn't afford to set up a workshop, kiln and all that is required to work with clay outside of the university.. I learned to sew and started making purses that my mother would sell in her art gallery and I'd sell to friends and word of mouth.. I supported myself in college by washing dishes and then being a cook at numerous restaurants.. When I finished my undergraduate program I knew I had to pursue cooking.. So I moved a little closer to home and started culinary school.. Chefdom consumed my life for years.. And I had established a well rounded reputation in my town and had a very promising career.. Well oops then I fell in love with someone from a neighboring town and got married and became pregnant in a matter of months.. My job was as a catering chef which is very high demand so I decided to leave my position when i was several months pregnant.. My baby is a year old now and after a brief stint as a chef after I had him, I decided that it was much more important for me to stay home with him at such a vulnerable, intriguing age.. So after trying to find things to pass the time and express my creativity, I started making jewelry!
2. How would you describe your shop/business?
I am a jewelry maker. I sell funky pieces made from quality materials.. I incorporate a lot of wire in my work.. My style is uniquely mine but I do pay attention to what other talented jewelers are creating.
3. How did get into this line of work/hobby?
My grandmother gave me a book on making wire jewelry and I've been hooked ever since.. I initially just made stuff for family and friends but after some rave reviews, I have decided to pursue a home based business.
4. Where does your inspiration come from? What sorts of things inspire your work? (Examples)
Well, I love food! When I would write menus, compose a wonderful dish, or simply arrange things artfully on a plate, it was like sculpting clay or painting a picture. Nature is one of my biggest influences.. I'm obsessed with things growing, pods and seeds and blooms.. all of that excites me to no end and provides such unique shapes, colors, and fantastical thoughts.. I'm also inspired by the fibonacci spiral and it's sequence.. I even have it tattooed on my body.. hehe.. But most of my inspiration just pops up in my head.. I have elaborate, epic dreams and wake up with a million ideas.. And I read a lot of diverse things so I feel like that opens up my mind for things to just breeze their way in.
5. What is your favorite piece? Why?
At the moment I'd have to say, 'This is What I Think and Thats That The End' necklace (on left).. I was having a fantastic day.. I was listening to rockabilly music, blues, jazz, and singing out loud! I just let myself make whatever I felt like and erased all the rules I had in my head.. It was fabulous.. I love that it's wild and not symmetrical.. I love the colors and all the silly components.. It was one of those pieces that posed no problems.. There was nothing I had to re-do, no indecision, everything hung right, the wire seemed to be on my side for once!
6. What do you like to do when you are not making jewelry?
Hmmm.. Cook! I love having elaborate dinner parties, or just cooking for my family.. I like to read, I love to write.. Sodoku! Playing with my wonderful son and beautiful 8 year old step daughter.. Music of all kinds.. I'm an NPR junkie.. Learning about quantum physics, that stuff is weird.. Poetry and family and when it first starts to rain..
7. Are your items available anywhere other than etsy?
Right now I'm just on etsy and in my mother's art gallery in Sandestin, FL
If you would like to see more of Mary Katherine's work or to make a purchase please visit her shop at meristem.etsy.com