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Trender: Jeweler Patrick McMillan

Monday, February 28, 2011


Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv introduces an ongoing series of glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene.

Today we're featuring Patrick McMillan of McMillan Metals, a master metalsmith, artost and community volunteer who's been around the world and chooses the Renaissance City to call home.

1. What was your inspiration for launching the line?

There were many sources of inspiration for the current work I have listed in my store. For starters, I find a lot of beauty in the traditional techniques of silversmithing and blacksmithing. When making my fine silver rings, I use no solder and every ring is hand forged and stretched to size. After this process, I often place rivets along the surface to pin parts together or to serve as decoration. In the end, my rings will always have a combination of hammered and mirror finishes intended to reflect their traditional craftsmanship.

My animal pieces stem from previous exhibition work. There are many elements of my gallery pieces I find quite charming on their own. I had many casting of the cows, horses and lions made for an exhibition last year but, before they were assembled into their corresponding piece, I saw they had different potential uses. Their present shapes led me to create the ‘Double Head” pieces.

The bike ring is a piece I’ve been making since 2003. I have been an avid cyclist for years. Not so much racing and but more for transportation around cities. They are a straightforward design and that is what I like about it. Here in Providence I am an active volunteer and board member of Recycle-a-Bike and donate 10% of my sales of these ring and any other bike jewelry to support their programs.

2. What is the range of materials you work with?

For the most part, I work in Sterling silver and bronze for my production pieces. In the past, I have made work using various types of plastics, steel, aluminum, and copper. For custom pieces, I work with 14k and 18k gold and semi precious stones.

3. How do you describe your pieces?

Illustrative, humorous and narrative are words that come to mind. I spend a good bit of time illustrating pieces in my sketchbook and developing little stories behind each one. Having some humor in my work is extremely satisfying. I feel happy when my pieces are fun and can put a smile on someone’s face. At the same time, while I do enjoy having these elements in my work, I also see some of my pieces as very design orientated. Making use of shapes, patterns and texture to create elegant and beautiful pieces is also very satisfying to me

4. Tell us about your adventure in jewelry making, and your experience with commerce sites like Esty...

I am trying to find a balance between exhibiting in galleries, creating custom work for individuals, and generating a production line of work to sell at fairs. Since my move to Providence two years ago I have worked on building my studio up to support this multi-faceted jewelry business. As of right now, I have work at Queen of Hearts in downtown Providence and the Royal Gallery on Atwells Avenue.

Online shops like Etsy are quite helpful in selling my production work and creating an online presence to help people fine me through search engines. Etsy in particular, has also given me the chance to pick up some custom work through the Alchemy portion of the site.

5. Finally, tell us a little about yourself- where you're from, where you learned your craft?

I was born in Memphis, TN but raised in Dallas, TX. From there, I returned to Memphis in 1999 to start my undergrad in 3d modeling and sculpture but finished in Halifax, NS. During my time in Canada, I changed my concentrated in Jewelry and Hollowware (vessels and containers). In 2003, after graduating, I moved back to Memphis to work as a production jeweler for a small company. After a year, I moved home after a year to help family out in Dallas where I truly started working on my own. There, I spent time freelancing for an art restoration company and building custom metal pieces for an interior designer/sculptor. After being out of school for a few years, I decided to head back to school for my Masters. In 2006, I moved to Birmingham, England to attend the School of Jewellery and, over the course of two years, I finished my masters and moved to London to work with a blacksmith. Once my visa expired I started researching possible places to begin my studio practice in the States. After a few months, I found Providence to be that place. I moved here March of 2009 and began getting involved. That is when I began volunteering and teaching at Recycle-a-Bike and the Steel Yard.

Follow Patrick McMillan on Facebook.


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