I live in rural New England where I’m surrounded by farms and nature. In the springtime, poplar trees bloom and turn the streets into pure magic. White fluffs dance through the air for days only to land amongst vultures pulling apart entrails, squirrels outrunning hawks, or foxes and the like trying to outrun us. My jewelry is inspired by this coexistence of life and death within nature, and the fluidity of beauty and decay resulting from it.
It’s the strange juxtapositions often present in death that influence my use of pearls and beads to transform the physical morbidness of death into something eye-catching and enticing. The beads themselves are also a nod to cemetery immortelles and peoples’ never-ending plight to try and cope with loss and honor their loved ones. For the animals themselves, I use watercolor enamels because of their delicate finish, and because of enamel’s history of being used in particularly sentimental pieces of jewelry. While my jewelry can be seen as tokens of remembrance, it’s also a reminder for the wearer that to grasp the light, you often have to move through the shadows.
Meghan Schmiedel is a mixed-media jewelry artist with an affinity for New England nature. Growing up in Connecticut, she spent much of her early life drawing, befriending animals, and collecting found “treasures” like tiny skulls and beetle wings. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design and, after seeing the preciousness such treasures held mirrored in jewelry, received her BFA in jewelry/metalsmithing.
After graduating, she spent the better half of a decade in NYC, navigating a love-mostly hate relationship with the city and the professional arts life she was living there until she, her husband, and their little dog moved back to New England, enabling her to pursue making jewelry in her own studio. She and her family currently live in a small town in Massachusetts, bookended by woods and cornfields, where she continues to find endless inspiration in the animals she sees and how they navigate life and death.