At first glance, the small jewelry studio where Christy Driscoll hammers metals, strings beads and cuts leather looks perfectly organized.
To the left of the entrance, an antique table holds completed necklaces, metal cuffs, beaded bracelets and chunky rings, all for sale online and at the local farmers market. To the right, another table is covered in antique muffin tins holding beads and necklace clasps, a dozen pairs of pliers in various sizes sit in a small wooden toolbox and rolls of bead string, chains and metal wires wait to be used. And against the back wall is a small collection of tools needed to bring Discoll’s vision to life, including a soldering iron and antique anvil.
It’s a well-equipped studio where everything is in its place, but a closer look reveals a subtle chaos that Driscoll says allows her creativity to flow. From the antique potbelly stove sitting in the corner to the Día de Muertos mug that holds her most-used tools, everything in the space has been selected to bring Driscoll comfort and inspiration as she turns her ideas into wearable art.
“I’m able to think freely and be creative and really get to work out here,” Driscoll, a lifelong Cohasset, Masschcusetts resident, said. “It started out with simple beaded bracelets and now I’m soldering and working with metals. I’ll come out here thinking I’m going to make hoop earrings or something and end up with a handful of rings at the end of the day. Anything can happen in here.”
Driscoll is the owner of Metal Girl Designs, a handmade jewelry company she runs out of the one-room studio attached to her home on Route 3A. She is constantly experimenting with materials such as leather, brass, silver and glass to make pieces she says have an “unusual flair.”
“I used to always take bags, belts, necklaces I’d bought and break them down because I didn’t like the way they looked, but I could make them what I wanted,” Driscoll said. “I wanted to hit the ground running and those classes let me do that. I can’t imagine being anywhere else or doing something else.”
Driscoll’s jewelry has a certain toughness to it that highlights the imperfections of products such as dented metals, scratched leather and broken glass. She sources her materials from antique stores, fellow artisans and a few whole-sale suppliers, but says at least half of her pieces are made from recycled goods and re-purposed items.
No two necklaces, earrings or bracelets are alike and she’s found a niche market through custom orders. She said made-to-order items make up about 70 percent of her business and if she had to choose, her customizable, stamped metal necklaces are her signature item.
Customers can have whatever they want stamped on the delicate pieces, but she’s known for ones that say “Be badass everyday,” a saying that has become her mantra.
“I mean it as a way to say ‘follow your passions and do your best in everything that you do,’ ” she said. “I love those necklaces because I know someone is walking away with that little piece of empowerment. I don’t know why, but it really does make you feel powerful to have that phrase around your neck.”
Most Metal Girl Designs sell for less than $100 — a chunky ring with a large stone would retail for about $75, and her stamped necklaces sell for $55. Driscoll sells her wares at the Cohasset Farmers Market and on her website — metalgirldesigns.net — and invites people into her home studio by appointment to shop.
She’s eight years into her new career as an artisan jeweler, but Driscoll says she’d just scratched the surface.
“I’ve gained skills and confidence and I’m doing all of these complex things,” she said. “It’s going great, but as an artist I’m always about continuing to grow and changing the way I do things. I’ll never settle for where I am, I’ll always keep growing.”
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.