Artist Merrilee Harrigan shares a collection of handcrafted jewelry made with glass and precious metals. Visit her website to find more of her work.
I found my passion for art at a glass workshop while engrossed in a career in clean energy and environmental education. I was surprised by the joy I felt in the creative process, and chose glass as my artistic medium.
Later, I was able to make art a full-time vocation, adding silver and gold to my glass jewelry. Learning to trust my own voice and my eye has been exhilarating and deeply satisfying. I found learning venues and teachers who taught me the skills and, more importantly, encouraged me to follow my muse, take chances and chart my own path.
My inspiration starts with the forms of the natural world; circles, arcs, spirals and more, transferred to glass and precious metals.
Much of my jewelry uses brilliant dichroic glass, layers of patterns and colors creating a depth of beauty one can lose oneself in.
The other style of glass I create incorporates silver into certain types of clear glass that are then transformed into varied tones of gold, bronze and turquoise. These become organic, stone-like pieces that I have dubbed Silvitrum. I love that I can infuse the silver scraps and filings from my silverwork into glass to create unique glass art.
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I listen to the glass, which tells me what type of setting it wants. Then I then use silver and gold to craft a setting that complements the shape, colors and patterns of the glass.
My jewelry is one-of-a-kind and I relish the challenge of innovating unique jewelry design. How to incorporate the chain into the design of the pendant? I mean, why not bend that tube into a curve so that it brings the chain all the way around the circle of glass? How can I incorporate silver into glass to create the most beautiful, organic “stone”? How to add a touch of gold and patina to transform silver into a dramatic, stunning earring or pendant? Can I achieve the beautiful depth of layered dichroic glass without excess weight? And of course, what does this particular piece of glass tell me about how to show off its beauty most effectively?
Making art doesn’t take place in isolation, but rather as part of the neighbors, customers and businesses who make up my community. Having built a solar house and championed energy efficiency, I was a bit chagrined that I use four electricity-using kilns, so I covered all my available roof space with solar panels.
I missed my environmental education work and started teaching glass workshops When the federal government was shut down, I offered free workshops to furloughed federal workers. Since I was concerned by the economic pain in my community, I contributed 25% of the purchase price to the local food bank during the summer of 2020. We are stronger together, and those connections also bring me joy.
My mission is to bring joy through art. Hearing my customers tell me that the jewelry I create makes them happy is my greatest satisfaction.
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