Silver and Silk Studio

American Made Since 1977

Mary Ellen O'Connor

Coupeville, Washington
My passion for nature and wildlife is the foundation for my jewelry, belt buckles, uniques boxes and silk scarves.

Tell us about your business.

I earned my BFA in Metalsmithing from the School for American Crafts. I have been in business as an artist since 1976, primarily as a silversmith and jeweler. I love to make holloware, multi-compartment boxes, belt buckles, cuff bracelets and necklaces. The theme is almost always nature and wildlife. I use my own photographs of birds, animals and flowers for most of my designs. To create my pieces, I use a jewelers saw to pierce my designs into sheet metal, solder on a backing and inlay colored resins, which I mix as if I am painting. My work in metal translates easily into etched glass, which I create on a commission basis for custom homes. In the past 5 years, silk painting has become a companion piece to the metalwork that continues to be my passion. I find the bold color and flow of the dyes a wonderful counterpoint to my work in metal. I plan to develop a more visible web presence to market my work, as well as to produce a line of unique metal containers.

What makes your business stand out?

I feel that I have a completely unique product, because I developed the process I use in my metal designs. The resin inlays I use are very beautiful, evoking a feel of cloisonne enamel, but they are extremely durable. This is critical for the belt buckles I make, as well as for the containers. My silk scarves are such a natural extension of the color work I do in metal, that I also feel they have a very unique place in the art world.

What's the best business advice you've received?

"Follow your passion". My jewelry professor at the School for American Crafts said that as he encouraged me to leave small jewelry work in order to learn to make folding knives. I have held that advice close to my heart ever since, in every area of art I have explored.

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    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.

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