Block Island and Hudson Valley based jewelry designer Mary MacGill, spends her days by the sea or in the country. Inspired by the ever changing shorelines of the East Coast, her jewelry combines the fragility of wire, and the strength of stone. We recently visited MacGill’s studio / storefront in the Hudson Valley, where her vision behind her line really shines through, with a mix of her own line as well as an edited selection of other designers. Read on as we chat with Mary about her daily rituals and how both locations influence her.
Shop Mary’s pieces online here.
Photographs by Jonathan Hokklo
Hi Mary, Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing ? Where did you grow up ?
I grew up in Katonah, NY about an hour north of the city with plenty of dogs and chickens. My brother and I spent a lot of time out doors making forts and obstacle courses. My father owns a photography gallery and my mother is a photographer, so you can imagine our house was always filled with pictures and art books. The art collection was a part of the family, the photos in the halls became familiar faces and scenes committed to memory. My mother can do or make anything, so we were always painting, drawing, sewing, building, and cooking.
You jump between the Hudson Valley and Block Island, two places which Im assuming hold alot of rituals per the season for you. As we are in the midst of the seasons changing, what excites you for the new season and what do you miss from the one we are about to leave.
I just got back to the Hudson Valley this week and have felt so calmed by the promise of fall, a slower pace, and cooler temperatures. My life here is about delicious food, great friends, hikes and running paths, fires, tea and some real quiet. I love walking through the woods with my dog, collecting branches and vines to bring to the shop. As much as I enjoy the mountains and swimming holes here, I will always be a bit of a mermaid -- I long for the ocean! Summer on Block Island consists of early mornings with the sunrise, lots of iced coffee, family, entertaining, Sundays at the beach, running, swimming, biking, margaritas, and pausing for sunset every night. I will miss the frenetic energy of summer...
Any daily rituals?
They're pretty basic: drip coffee, 10 minutes of reading before I look at my phone in the morning, exercise with my dog (I lose my head if I don't), and cooking a nice meal for dinner.
How did you find your way into jewelry ?
I went to a summer arts camp in 8th grade in Putney Vermont and took a metal smithing class there. I caught the bug and my parents introduced me to my mentor - a Japanese designer, Kazuko Oshima. She took me to Takashimaya for tea, then taught me how to wrap stones with gold wire. I did a few independent studies on jewelry making throughout school, Kaz came to all the presentations. After college, I worked for a more corporate jewelry company on the design side and learned the ins and outs of production.
If you were to work in another medium besides jewelry what would it be ?
I'm actually looking into lighting design... light really has the ability to shape a space, shift your mood, make a home a home.
What is currently inspiring you ?
Irish music, Sonia Delaunay, big bunches of Queen Anne's lace, this book on the concept of what "White" is by Kenya Hara
Where are you planning your next escape to ?
Back to the Algarve region of Portugal in October... thinking about Morocco for January.