Organically Inspired. . .
Organically Inspired. . .
Do you have a question about Studio McManus or our jewelry? Check below for answers, or contact us if you don’t find what you’re looking for.
I design all of my pieces in metal clay, because it offers me maximum flexibility to translate my vision into metal.
Metal clay is a revolutionary new material that has only been available here in the U.S. since the mid-90’s. Metal clay consists of microscopic particles of metal in an organic binder. It starts out soft and pliable, like a clay. In this soft clay state, it can be textured, molded and sculpted. When it dries to a firm but fragile state called greenware, it can be carved, refined or joined with other pieces for complex constructions. Finally, the greenware goes into the kiln where the binder burns away, the metal particles fuse together, and the piece is transformed to solid metal. Once the metal piece comes out of the kiln, it can be finished using traditional metalsmithing and finishing techniques. If you’d like to learn more about metal clay, check out www.MetalClayMagic.com, where a team of artists writes about metal clay.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most of my pieces are made out of metal clay one at a time in my studio. A few of the more complex pieces are designed in metal clay, and then hand-cast in a variety of metals. This process gives me the option to design without limiting myself to pieces that can be realistically made from scratch one at a time. My most intricate creations would be double or triple the price if I constructed each piece, so the ability to hand-cast really opens up the possibilities.
I work in a range of metals from fine silver (99.9% silver) and sterling silver (92.5% silver) to copper and bronze. I add 22 carat gold accents to some of my fine silver pieces. All of the findings and chain used in my silver collections are sterling silver. In the copper and bronze pieces, you’ll find a variety of metals in the findings, including copper-plated steel and surgical steel.
“A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”
The patinas on the silver pieces are not coated because I have never found a durable coating that does not immediately downgrade the iridescent rainbow of colors. You can expect the patina on the silver pieces to continue to develop and change as it interacts with the environment and your body chemistry. The best way of holding onto the patina and avoiding tarnishing is to wear your jewelry often and treat it gently.
The copper and bronze pieces are coated in several layers of lacquer, followed by a museum-quality preservation wax. This treatment will help the colorful patinas to last and will help slow the natural tarnishing process. The coatings will not last forever. Treating your jewelry gently will help to extend the life of the coatings and the patinas they protect.
“I don’t ask for the meaning of the song of a bird or the rising of the sun on a misty morning. There they are, and they are beautiful.”
Inspired by the talented women in my family, I’ve always been into crafts. As a child and into adulthood, I flitted from sewing to macrame to hook rug and on and on. I clearly remember the excitement of starting a new craft followed by the boredom that would set in once I had reached a level of competence in each technique. What can I say, I thrive on “new, new, new” and I know it!
I actually didn’t discover my inner artist until I stumbled upon polymer clay in 2006. The clay just seemed to flow and respond in my hands, allowing me to create pieces that made me sit back and wonder where they came from. I spent several years exploring color, form and texture in polymer clay and developed several techniques that were all my own. I began selling pieces and I immersed myself in an online community of artists that were also crazy for polymer clay. From those online friends, I started learning about a fairly new artist material called metal clay. Before I even touched the stuff, I was hooked.
In 2009, I took a week long Introduction to Art Clay Silver class with Pam East at the John C. Campbell Folk School in western North Carolina. From that first day of working with the clay, I loved everything about it. My polymer clay skills transferred easily and my creations were solid metal right out of the kiln. Sold!! I have continued to seek out the most talented teachers in metal clay, building my skills with each passing year, and picking up my Rio Certification and my Art Clay Silver Level One Certification along the way. Read more here about my ongoing quest for more training here.
“Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.”
That boredom I experienced with every other material I’ve worked with has yet to set in with metal clay. I have so many ideas that I want to try out, and there are new clay formulas coming out all the time, keeping things interesting. Even when I’m in production mode, making dozens or even hundreds of leaves at one sitting, metal clay still makes my heart sing. I find a meditative calm during those production sessions that brings me back to center in a way that nothing else does.
My background is not typical for an artist. I have a marketing degree from the University of Houston. My career path has included work in yearbook publishing, printing and advertising. In 2001, I went to work as the Director of Marketing at the National Watermelon Promotion Board. I went on to hold the same position at the National Mango Board.
Currently, I work part time as the Retail Program Manager at the National Mango Board, a position that feeds my passion for the produce industry, which is great fun and very exciting. The job also gives me the flexibility to grow my jewelry business organically, rather than under the pressure of it paying all the bills. I’ve found my marketing and business background to be extremely helpful in building the jewelry business and dealing professionally with my wholesale gallery owners.