This week I want to introduce you to another creative: Mary Drea. Maybe you have already read about her. Image Magazine recently named her as a jewellery designer to follow (she trades under addiebeads at the moment) or maybe you discovered her in one of the craft fairs or pop-up shops where she was selling her beautifully- crafted jewellery.
I discovered her on social media. Being a bit of a magpie, I was attracted by images of sparkling glass earrings she had posted on Instagram. I ordered some and was delighted to discover they were every bit as beautiful in reality. Beautifully packaged, they arrived in a few days. She uses interchangeable sterling silver hooks …also a plus.
I have been following her ever since; no, not stalking, I mean online silly! Her creations have evolved and more recently she has begun working with the tiniest pieces of glass and ceramics to create a most unusual, unique collection of mosaic millefiori jewellery at very affordable prices. I kid you not…you can buy a piece of handcrafted, unique jewellery from Mary starting at €25 for some bangles and rings, going up to €65 for the pendants. Her pieces can be worn with your own jewellery or on their own. If you want to see what she creates click here. If you want to learn a little more about her, read on and read her replies to my searching in-depth questions!!! Or maybe have a look at the pics of her designs. You will not be able to resist checking out her website.
What did you do before designing jewellery?
Before I got into designing jewellery, I was managing the Kilmacanogue Avoca store. I loved it, but I was approaching 50 and was getting a bit angsty about my future and being fulfilled. I was searching for a way to be creative and probably having some sort of mid-life crisis!! While I would dream about having an online business, I was unsure what it would be but I remember thinking I wanted to create my space online and see where it took me.
How did you start?
With the support of my husband, I took the plunge and left Avoca! With plenty of time now on my hands, I went back to my love of craft including beading. I found it difficult to get the supplies and beads I liked and so addiebeads, mainly a Czech glass bead website, was born. I had a passion for decent glass beads and before I knew it, I was a well-known bead seller! Then came the blogging, the sharing of information, ideas and a series of very successful beading tutorials online.
What materials do you use?
Glass, glass and more glass! At the moment for my mosaics I use only recycled glass. I also prefer if it has an iridescent finish to create a natural sparkle. I also love to use handmade ceramic tiles and crystals.
How have your designs evolved?
My jewellery has evolved out of an obsession with mosaic and I am definitely on a journey with my creativity. But for now, the three main guiding elements are my love of colour, mosaic and glass. I have always been fascinated with tiny and small things and putting them together, almost like jigsaws, and to merge glass and tiles into tiny wearable mosaic.
Do you take on private commissions?
Yes, for sure! This would be a huge part of my business. Creating one-of-a-kind pieces is the best way to work. It is very rewarding to work one-to-one with a customer who is looking for something unique for a particular occasion. It’s a wonderful collaboration.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by everyday stuff. It could be the skies, the beach, a local walk. I mainly gain inspiration from trends, colours and what I love to wear myself.
Besides your own jewellery, what do you wear?
I have always adored jewellery and wear it a lot! I have a particular taste/style, which for good or bad has slipped into my own designs! But I love oxidised silver as opposed to bright sterling silver, I prefer antique gold to bright brassy golds. I would not go out without a big chunky ring of some description! I have a very eclectic collection of pieces picked up over the years from all over the world.
Are you influenced by fashion?
Yes, when I was younger. But when I hit my 30s, I think I let all that go and hopefully developed my own sense of style which is very relaxed and low-key with a slight boho vibe! I am in my 50s and I love the challenge of still trying to shop and find cool clothes on the high street. My wardrobe now consists mainly of Top Shop (jeans are the best), H&M for something quirky, Carolyn Donnelly’s Edit in Dunnes Stores is a current fave and Avoca always for beautiful knitwear and unusual separates.
Where you get your materials?
I buy most of my materials from the US and I get the millefiori glass from Murano in Italy. So much of my time is taken up sourcing materials at competitive prices. But now I have built relationships with just a few suppliers with whom I work closely.
I am currently going through a re-jig of my business, changing the name from addiebeads which really was perfect for when I was a bead seller. I want to come out from under the shadow of that business and trade under my own name. It has taken a long time for me to get the courage to do this but the time is right now. My new business will concentrate on mosaic jewellery only and I am working on a range of mosaic homeware items.
I am also developing workshops (to hold in my home) where I will teach the basics of jewellery making, mosaic for small items and how to use resin. I have a vision where women can come together in small numbers to express their creativity. There are plenty of women aged 50 and over who would love to have a creative outlet and I would love to meet them, to spend time with them, learn from them and teach them something new.
So, if you are looking for some unusual, quality, hand-crafted Irish-designed jewellery for yourself or for presents, click here and it will bring you to Mary’s site. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram so you do not miss any special offers. Oh, and for all you dog lovers out there, her adorable pooch Alfie has a following of his own on Instagram too!