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SCOUT PENDANS of mixed plastics, oxidized silver; 11.4. x 3.2 x 3.2 centimeters respectively, 2009. Photograph by Patrick Liotta.
Mary Donald

Material Love




Jeweler Mary Donald turns her artistic eye to a variety of industrial and waste materials, translating commonplace items like rubber and plastic into dynamic jewelry.

The steel-gray, blackish bracelet shines and reflects like metal. Pierced holes dot the tops of petal-like parts that are layered one over the other, with small gleaming orbs like pinheads acting as rivets. It looks weighty, substantial and hard. But, upon closer look, the large, seemingly rigid piece is not metal, but is actually soft and flexible, light as air, conforming comfortably to the wearer’s wrist. The chameleon material behind the Pierced and Pieced Rocker Cuff is actually rubber, burnished bicycle inner tube to be exact. Another compelling, untitled bracelet has clusters of semi-opaque ovals suspended on transparent rods. The material looks intriguing, with a bumpy texture and a character almost like smoky, clear glass. But this too is pliable, light weight, made from an industrial substance scored from a waste bin at a plastics plant. Commonplace and unexpected as the material is, the bracelet is striking and beautiful, set off with subtle hints of warm color. It is these surprises, and a pressing love for interpreting unusual materials, that lies at the heart of Los Angeles-based jeweler Mary Donald’s craft.

Donald’s first efforts in jewelry sprung from her painting background as an undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Experimentation was always crucial to her development as an artist, and as she played not only with her paints, but also with manipulating the paper—cutting it, tearing and folding it—she found her projects getting smaller and smaller, until they could nestle in the palm of her hand. One day, a realization flashed like a light bulb when she decided she wanted to wear her latest creation and made herself a pair of earrings. “It was instant love,” Donald remembers. Working with paper and paint—familiar materials close to her heart—Donald added different textures, bits of wire and the occasional pearl, glass bead or other accent to her miniature, wearable collages. She was captivated. “I went crazy. I realized immediately the potential for variety and that you could take one idea and make a thousand pieces that connect to it.”







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