If you've been in our Gallery Shop in the past week or so, you may have noticed a special display of jewelry by our front door. Megan Austin came to visit for our Galentine's Day edition of Ladies' Night and brought a wonderful array of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets!
Megan Austin is from Canton, Georgia, and she specializes in handmade sculptural jewelry, much of which is created using Precious Metals Clay and a combination of precious and semiprecious gemstones. Megan has been digging her own rocks since she was a child, but it wasn't until she was pregnant with her first child when she wanted to learn how to create settings to showcase the stones she had collected and polished over the years.
That childhood passion turned out to be quite the skill—Megan is known for her expertise in polishing Opal, Ammolite, Larimar, and Turqouise; and she is one of only ten polishers in the United States that possesses the skill to polish Ammolite.
"I mine most of the stones myself," Megan explained. "If the stones aren't available to me in the United States, I'll purchase from the mine directly."
But how does she choose which stone goes with which setting?
"I have major ADD and tend to have many styles of design and many different techniques to create those styles," Megan said. "I usually let the main stone do the talking and play with the clay to create a few different designs that would showcase that stone, then choose which design I think makes that stone stand out the best."
While she focuses on the design, Megan also strives to create more than a stunning piece of jewelry. She wants her jewelry to mean a great deal to the people who wear it. Megan regularly wears a necklace featuring her children's birthstones.
"I believe that everyone deserves to own something beautiful and meaningful; therefore, I collaborate with my clients to capture the unique images or ideas they have and create a wonderful piece of jewelry that they will cherish for many years to come," she explained.
Megan's work ranges from classic earrings to incredibly ornate pendants, many of which depict creatures both real and mythical.
Megan has been a Kentuck Festival artist since 2016 and has developed a supportive customer base. In 2019, she got a flat tire at the Festival, and a customer she's known for several years volunteered to watch her booth while she took her car to the shop.
"When I returned, I offered [the customer] a free pair of earrings as a thanks, but she refused," Megan recalled. "The customer gave me a hug, said it was no problem, and then she showered me with the money from the sales she made on my behalf. She even bought something herself! I am very lucky to have witnessed all the kindness that was shown to me that day."
In addition to traveling to shows all over the southeast, Megan also teaches classes about Precious Metal Clay. Precious Metal Clay can be molded and sculpted much like traditional clay, but when it's put in the kiln, it reduces to a metal. Be on the lookout for a class at Kentuck Art Center very soon!
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Pieces will be available online until mid-March. Official date TBA.