All of the Mary Frances Maker jewelry pieces have been heavily influenced by nature. The Porcupine Series was created based on a treasure trove of items my dear friend, Hannah, brought back from a safari in Kenya, Africa. Knowing my love for unusual natural objects that can be cast, Hannah brought home a treasure trove of broken porcupine quills, feathers, seed pods, and funky twigs.
Porcupines often lose their quills, similar to human hair loss. Sometimes from natural shedding, other times when they're anxious or afraid. However, they always grow back, so collecting their broken off quills is harmless. ⠀⠀
While I found decorating purposes for the other finds (though, I'm definitely willing to cast some seed pods if anyone's got a hankering), I took to jewelry for the porcupine quills! With my production team's help, I made a mold of some of the most interesting quills, filled that mold with metal, and then hammered and bent the metal castings into hoops, pendant necklaces, cuffs, and even a bridal belt! Today, the Porcupine Ear Climbers, found in silver and gold, and the Porcupine Necklace in silver and brass, are two of the most uniquely created pieces of jewelry we have.
Porcupine quills are naturally very thin, almost a paper-like texture, and hollow so transforming them into hardened solid metal is something that I find particularly interesting and a bit ironic. They also were a big inspiration behind the concept of "for the curious," - the ethos behind the Mary Frances Maker brand. ⠀
I have a great curiosity about the world we live in, and I'm always seeking new ways to view it. This curiosity is what leads me to cast often - forgotten organic objects into jewelry pieces. My aim in creating these pieces is that you, the wearer and lover, are encouraged to look at the world with new eyes. Are there unique shapes or objects in your backyard that would make for a gorgeous ring? Earrings, perhaps? Leaves, bark, shells? We'd like to encourage you to look at the world from a curious perspective and see what new elements are brought to your attention. Let us know any of your ideas for nature-influenced jewelry in the comments below.
All pieces were cast directly from a mold made with an American (smaller) or African (larger) porcupine quill.