Vivian Monteiro ’23
Staff Writer/Art Columnist
You may have noticed fellow students with brightly colored yarn dangling from their ears, woven into hoops or ruffled shapes reminiscent of flowers. You’ve probably seen the wire sculpture jewelry that bends and twists into abstract figures or takes on geometric forms as it frames stones and beads. Many of these unique pieces are the work of 5C students.
I had the pleasure of talking with three popular jewelry makers on campus and asked them about their businesses. Carrie Young ’21 and Becca Magnan PO ’22 have been selling their work for years, while Sophia Frye ’23 is an up-and-coming initiate. All three strive to create unique pieces of wearable art that are both striking and expressive.
Magnan started making jewelry with her mom when she was 10 years old. “We would always go visit Brazil over the summer and where my grandma lived there wasn’t really much to do, but there were two jewelry places that were going out of business, so my mom and I stocked up on supplies and that’s all we did that summer,” Magnan said. “Then I got back home and I started making wire doodles and stuff. The next time I went to Brazil I did the same thing—the entire summer I made earrings. I came back and people were like ‘you should sell them’ and I was like: ‘umm… okay!’”
At first, Magnan struggled with selling her work. “I made an Etsy my senior year of highschool and expected to find a huge following without any advertising or anything,” Mangan said. “So I was super unsuccessful on Etsy for so long and just sold to friends in person. No one was buying online because they didn’t know it existed.” Things began to improve that summer when a friend’s mom, who had her own business involving shibori dying, let Mangan sell some of her work on her market stand. “That really got the word out,” said Mangan.
As Mangan gained more success, she has adapted her business model. “I would do this thing last year where everything was super customizable. I found that it was exhausting and creatively stifling to make the same pieces over and over again,” Mangan said. “I didn’t want to feel like I was mass producing. I started to transition into something more personal, where my goal wasn’t the satisfaction of buyers, but also my own–once again creating to nurture myself and meditate on my own expression.”
Mangan’s work resembles a thought captured in wire. The way each line swirls and overlaps closely together in her most recent pieces seems almost impossible; I didn’t know jewelry could make you think until I more closely examined her earrings.
Another wire jewelry artist is Carrie Young, a Scripps student. Young started selling her wire earrings during her first year at Scripps in order to fulfill her need to create without room in her schedule for an art class. She chose to use wire because of its accessibility and portability, and eventually what started out as a matter of convenience grew into a love for the material. “To me it feels like drawing but with wire,” Young said. “The way you can bend it makes it really malleable. It’s easy and fun to doodle with.”
Her art is reminiscent of Picasso’s cubist portraits, oftentimes with figures or faces broken down into shapes that capture the essence of her subject. Remember those drawing exercises you were forced to do in your middle school art class where you drew something without lifting your pencil? Young bends wire into sculptures in a similar manner– except somehow she makes it look like something that should be framed and hung on a wall.
For Young, her art isn’t just gratifying for her wallet and her mind. “I’m really surprised by how many friendships or relationships I’ve formed through people coming up to me and asking about or buying my jewelry. I love when people start using wire because they got inspired,” Young said.
One of the people inspired by Young is first-year Frye, who has admired her work since before her arrival at Scripps. The two ended up in the same Italian class, and Young noticed Frye’s earrings. “[Carrie] was like, ‘I love your earrings, I also make earrings!’ I was starstruck,” said Frye. “And she was my first customer here. She practically threw the money at me, she was so excited! So that’s what gave me the confidence to sell. She just inspired me.”
Frye has been making earrings for ten years, but the ones she sells now are a recent invention. “I just love to make things… I kinda go through these phases,” said Frye. “This summer I was doing macrame, and I had this idea that I should make earrings that way. So my first prototypes were macrame. I eventually ran out of wire that I would macrame the string around, and I realized that I could just crochet it instead,” Though she has only been at Scripps for roughly eight weeks, Frye has already gained quite a following among her peers. The fact that her earrings are distinctive and eye catching no doubt plays a role in her business’ growing popularity. “I want to be original,” Frye said. “I want to be the first person to make something.”
With brightly colored yarn, Frye crochets circles and ovals, occasionally intertwining or connecting them to form different shapes. They are big and bold but as light as a feather. Never will you wear softer earrings.
Frye’s business, Moomucca, is all about aplomb and courage. “The earrings are so bold that you have to have a little bit of confidence to wear them,” said Frye. “And it gives you confidence to wear them. I think it’s so cool that earrings do that. I hope other people want to stand out and not be afraid to be themselves.”
So, what’s next for these three entrepreneurs? Young hopes to become an art teacher and combine her passion for art with her love for kids. She wants to keep expanding and combining new mediums when it comes to the jewelry she makes. Frye doesn’t know if she will keep making jewelry her whole life, but she is certain she will always be making something. “I cannot imagine being happy and not doing something that involves creativity. I really want to pursue my passions and make that my career,” said Frye. As for Mangan, she is currently spending more time on other creative pursuits such as designing clothing, and she may take up metal soldering in the near future.
If you feel moved by these dazzling artists and your inner jewelry-maker has been ignited, there’s no better time to start than now.
“So many people on these campuses do really amazing art, but they don’t see it as a thing to share because it feels more personal,” Young said. “It’s always really wonderful seeing what people create that they wouldn’t usually broadcast.”
The work of Young and Magnan may be found on Etsy as @youngwire and @TheCrystalist. Frye’s work can be purchased through her Instagram, @bymoomucca.
10/30, Volume XXIX, Issue 3