Saturday, October 2, 2010


At 103-years old the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California is one of the state’s oldest remaining amusement parks. With rides like the Hurricane rollercoaster, and Haunted House attraction, it still entices tourists and locals. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Molly McGrath.

McGrath’s streamlined yet visually differentiated modern jewelry brings together innovative design techniques with eco-friendly materials.

She enlists the understated sensibilities of an architecture (she is professionally trained as one) creating sketches first that are then drafted in CAD (Computer Aided Design) with the final step of creating the jewelry pieces implementing a laser cutter machine she used to create architectural models.

Of more importance to the designer is producing sustainable jewelry constructed with “responsibly farmed birch, bamboo, felt and wool salvaged from surplus army clothing, and suede reclaimed from second-hand jackets and warehouse surplus.”

Each of her collections--that are primarily composed of earrings and pendant necklaces--adhere to timeless and classic geometric outlines; at the same time the varied, intricate surface details are inspired by botanicals, textiles, and metallics.

The contrast of dark bamboo against light bamboo, or the color of sea foam felt or navy blue suede peeking out from behind the cut-out patterns of wood veneer cattails, rosehips or vines is striking in its subtle beauty.

However, her Geometrics Collection introduces more abstract, complex renderings of spinning vortexes, webs, open facets, meshed spirals, as well as the optical illusion details of items like her Extrude Earrings.

In my opinion, the eco-friendly designer jewelry is a particularly unique presentation of wood.

Where the majority of wood carved jewelry I have seen is more earthy and rustic in bold, chunky designs McGrath puts a distinctive, ultra-modern take on it with her material selections, design patterns, and creation process.
Photo 1 (top right): Charcoal and Natural Birch Figure Ground Earrings
Photo 2 (center): Gold and Gunmetal Stained Birch Nest 2 Pendant Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): Birch Veneer and Black Suede Polygon 2 Earrings
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