Mary Frances Maker is known for her subtle sentimentality; each piece she creates tells a story. Her signature pieces are modern, organic, and unique to the wearer. Her signature birch texture brings a beautiful one-of-a-kind finish to our solid 14k gold custom bangles. Available in two sizes to layer into your stack, these bangles are available in limited quantities to bring together our two brands.
We love how the birch texture adds a subtle natural element and gives a special nod to the birch tree which is known for being resilient and able to grow quickly even in difficult environments.
Let's get to know Mary Frances, her work, and more about her signature birch texture!
How did you get your start in jewelry?
MFM: I worked for a fine jeweler in college and fell in love with the process. I moved to New York after college to attend a jewelry trade school and learn the skills necessary to create the designs I had in my head. I was dating a boy back South at the time (now my husband!), and after about a year in NYC, I finished school and scooted back to the South. My husband is in sales so we've moved around a bit - I started the business in Asheville, NC in 2014 and it has evolved with each move from there. From Raleigh to Charleston to now Atlanta, GA!
What's your favorite project to date?
MFM: Well, this is impossible!! I love a good full circle sentimental moment so I'll have to go personal on this one. For my wedding 5 years ago, I asked each of the matriarchs of my and my husband's family for a piece of jewelry they would be willing to let me take apart and redesign. My mom gave me a pair of pearl earrings that were my grandmother's. My husband's grandmother gave me a pair of Tiffany's braided hoops. From these two pieces, I removed the 8 pearls, sliced up the hoops into smaller pieces, and ultimately created 7 new pairs of earrings - a pair each for my mom and my two sisters from the pearls, a pair each for my grandmother-in-law, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law from the hoops, and my earrings were a combination of the two original pieces - a perfect marriage in jewelry form to celebrate our real-life marriage.
Tell us more about the birch texture and the process of making it.
MFM: I'm obsessed with the subtle texture of the birch tree! When I was living in Asheville during my very beginning years of starting this business, I hiked as much as I could. I always felt most inspired when I was in the middle of the woods. I loved the texture of all the trees and flowers I saw (sounds trite, but it's true!! I'm a big texture gal), and I knew a bit about the jewelry casting process from my school days. I did a little research into casting organic material and learned that birch was actually a very easy bark to cast because it burned out cleanly (indulge my nerdy self for a minute!) in the casting process. Then, the texture that it created in the metal was just so subtle - it wasn't flashy but it created just enough interest in a bangle for someone to stop and take a second look. The birch texture can't be replicated by hammers and hand tools on a blank piece of metal, it has to be cast directly into the metal itself - it's a texture made by nature, not by man, and I think that's my favorite thing about it. It's a constant reminder that we are just a very small part of this world, and we really have very little control over things. It reminds me to let go. After further reading into the birch tree itself, I learned that because they're so hardy and grow so quickly they can symbolize energy to begin a new adventure in life, and that's just a really beautiful sentiment to carry in what you wear on your body every day.
What's your favorite part about working in fine jewelry?
MFM: The materials that we work with in fine jewelry - solid gold, diamonds, gemstones - have been around for centuries. The processes by which we create fine jewelry (in my case, wax carving and casting) are as old as the Egyptians. Something about knowing that what I'm creating and the way in which I'm creating it is the same as how things were created hundreds of years ago is so very grounding to me. It reminds me there were so many people who walked this earth before me, and there will be so many who walk this earth after me. It reminds me that we are all connected in some way, and we're really not all that different from one another. I love how fine jewelry can connect people to their past (I've never seen a stat on this but I firmly believe that jewelry is one of the most passed down family heirlooms), and it can also symbolize a new future (think engagement rings, anniversary gifts, etc!) Fine jewelry is used to commemorate milestones and create connections among families. It's so much more than just the metal and gemstones.