Written and Photographed by Monica Farber
Last month, I stopped by the Goat Farm, in Atlanta to attend HART Jewelry’s open studio and talk with Meghan McKendree about her collection, how she got involved in jewelry making, and what inspires her to create such unique designs. Meghan graduated from Savannah College of Art & Design with a degree in photography, but her natural ability to find random bones throughout her life, led her elsewhere. I know you you’re thinking… bones?! Yes. Let’s back up…
In 2007, Meghan established Vagabond Arts, producing fine art photography and jewelry. During which time, she designed jewelry for films such as The Hunger Games, Mean Girls 2, and Footloose 2. Having to create jewelry for fictitious characters forced her to work outside of her normal style and branch out into unknown territory, which she loved.
Soon after, Meghan decided that she wanted to move abroad. “It was really a sabbatical. It was time for me to figure out how to simplify things and how to be less stimulated that we are here in the U.S… it can be exhausting”. And so she discovered San Miguel, Mexico and decided that would be where she found inspiration. Within 6 weeks of deciding on San Miguel, she left and over the next few months had her belongings shipped to her.
While living in Mexico, she met a group of talented artists. With a clear mind, minimal distraction, and surrounded by inspiring people and nature, her work flourished.
HART began with the natural bones that she would find, incorporating those into the jewelry itself, making each piece one-of-a-kind. And then, on a trip to visit her Godmother in Sonoma, CA, she went out to water the garden and found a hummingbird lying on the ground, with another hummingbird (her mate?) hovering above her, and another pair watching nearby. She left the hummingbird until the sun went down, and then brought her in and performed a taxidermy process to preserve the body until she could take her back to Mexico. Meghan eventually used the skull to make a mold, and then cast in silver. She soon after found the ability to take her work in a new direction, where she began making molds from bones.
Now, she creates molds from “found objects”, so that they can be cast in precious metals and replicated. She has the original hummingbird skull in a case in her studio, and the mold is used over and over again in the production of rings, necklaces, and more in silver, bronze, and vermeil. The hummingbird is one of Meghan’s best sellers.
“I feel like we’re always in such a hurry in our lives, that it’s nice to be able to take a pause and have appreciation for something that we might not notice otherwise.”
Other objects such as scorpions, a piece of wheat found on the Atlanta Beltline, ginkgo leaves from Sonoma, are used in there creation of her “adornments” which can be used for the purpose of hair pins, stuck in the brim of a hat, or shawl pin (she jokingly calls the cast plants her “vegan collection”).
Meghan’s jewelry pieces are much more than adornments for the body, they are unique works of art that tell a story of where she’s been. She has been able to incorporate her own experiences into her work and share those stories with her clients. Her work is real and authentic, much like her photography. Perhaps that is what lead her to this particular medium…
Immediately following her open studio, she traveled to NY to debut her collection in NY Now, an innovative designs trade show for designers to debut their products (home, lifestyle, handmade gifts) for global distribution. Meghan’s entrepreneurial spirit began as a young child, making jewelry and selling it door to door. Now, you can find her designs at Bill Hallman Boutique in Atlanta, online at www.hartjewelry.com, or by commission. I look forward to seeing the results of her NY Now venture and wish her all the luck in world.