Metalsmithing is no easy feat. There’s an incredible amount of work that goes into it: designing, carving, casting, and stone setting — it’s a true art form that often goes overlooked. Somehow Meg Girard has not only mastered her craft, but has successfully made the jump from small business owner to bonafide #girlboss.
Drawing inspiration from the American Southwest, Girard’s jewelry borrows imagery like Thunderbirds from classic Native American designs and employs the use of gem-centric stones like opal, turquoise, and onyx. With a preference for stamping, Girard works predominantly in silver, a softer metal that’s easily manipulated. We recently spoke with Girard about what inspires her, how she came into metalsmithing, and her new fall line.
Tattoodo: What initially drew you to metalsmithing? Did you always know you wanted to be a jeweler?
Meg Girard: I've always had a love for jewelry and have collected Old Pawn southwestern pieces for years — I scoured antique stores and the internet for all traces of turquoise and tarnish. I started off in the dental field working with orthodontics and bending metal for braces, which actually uses some of the same skills as jewelry making. Once I was given a gift of a Native American jewelry stamp tool, I knew I needed to learn how to work with it. I took a jewelry class and it snowballed from there — I worked on honing my skills, eventually bought myself a studio setup, and then shared my work online. Now I work from my home studio in Oakland, CA full-time and have an amazing community of jewelers and followers on Instagram that I share my work with.
A lot of your pieces draw inspiration from the Southwest and Native American Jewelry. What about that region and culture inspires you?
Growing up, I always heard my dad and grandma talk about how we had Blackfoot Native American roots. Now that my grandma has passed, I regret that I never spoke with her about our cultural roots and learned more about my family's history. I've always been inspired by the aesthetics of Southwest Native American designs and the jewelry I'd collected. I like to think that through my work, I'm keeping some of my heritage alive.
Some people aren't familiar with the whole process of creating a piece of jewelry. Can you walk us through your creative process?
Whenever I make a piece, I get a general idea of what I want to make and then just go from there. Nothing is planned or drawn out, and most everything doesn't turn out as I intended because I tweak and change things as I go along. My work is basically a beautiful accident and is a testament to my heritage and my process.
What can you tell us about your new fall line?
Well...The fall collection has become the winter collection because I have received an onslaught of orders lately and couldn't get started on a complete collection fast enough. However, I'm planning a limited release of some opal jewelry sets in October and then will have a small collection in November of one-of-a-kind pieces made from high-quality Bisbee turquoise. Keep up to date on my Instagram (@meg_girard) for sneak peeks and updates.
Spanning ten sold-out collections, and an eleventh due out later this winter, Girard has made quite a name for herself, amassing nearly 49K followers on Instagram. With this level of success, it’s hard to believe that it all stemmed from an introductory level metalsmithing class five years ago. Girard is proof that with hard work and a whole lot of talent, you actually can make a living doing something you love.