Mckenna Hallett creates Art Jewelry from an array of unique found objects like car radiators, copper roof flashing and gutters, as well as old appliances, electrical and plumbing discards – even parts from an airplane engine.
She is devoted to repurposing to further nurture her dedication to educate and promote better environmental practices. She actually creates her pieces without burning any fossil fuels. To that end, she even converted a Singer Sewing Machine Treadle and does all her sanding and grinding by foot.
ABI: How do you construct your jewelry?
MH: My “Mission Statement” basically “created” my methodology: “I want to create objects of art with a minimum of impact on Our Planet and to this end I will never use electricity or heat or corrosive chemicals to construct my jewelry and I will use as few items as possible from newly manufactured sources.”
So essentially, I use no power, torches, soldering, or any fossil fuels. This was a conscious decision to bring awareness to the fact that we can have lovely jewelry that is low impact to the environment – and that we need to rethink our purchases of “new” stuff whenever possible.
By not using traditional tools of the jewelry trade, I essentially had to self-train and create from an on-going “what if” mindset. But that has created a very unique line and means each session in my studio is filled with lots of “aha” moments.
Solid construction of very durable finished works is the goal and the resulting design features are almost not of my making. The natural patinas are as stunning for me to see as they are for viewers of my line.
ABI: Recycling materials is a big trend these days. How do you believe people can go beyond that?
MH: I hope it is more than a “trend”. I deeply believe that we must rethink the entire “recycling” strategy and return to some basics: why are we not refilling beverages like sodas into re-usable (thick) glass containers that can be returned to a bottling plant and re-filled locally? Why are we crushing glass and shipping it around the planet to be re-formed and shipped again, refilled and shipped again around the planet?
As a baby boomer, I returned plenty of bottles for the deposit, and they were refilled. It was good for the local economy and gentle on energy consumption.
Buying a plastic water container is finally being seen as totally energy inefficient and hopefully my website, Stoprecycling.com, can bring additional awareness. That site asks everyone to RE-duce, RE-use, and then recycling becomes less important. That site asks you to rethink.
Stoprecycling.com is also the only contact info in my “story card” that goes with each purchase. And each purchase gets “gift-wrapped” in re-used brown paper from commercial flour bags from local pizza shops.
ABI: What types of retailers carry your work?
MH: There is quite a range, but the criteria for me to accept an order is that they have to be ambassadors of my message. I am fortunate to turn away several offers per month from around the planet and am on the look-out for like-minded souls who will honor the jewelry and the message it sends.
While I was selling to Neiman Marcus back in the day, I learned that my production levels are restricted – it’s just me and my converted Singer Sewing Machine Treadle “bench grinder”. So I concentrate on American Fine Craft Galleries, Museum Shops, and am always pleased with smaller more intimate shops that, like me, are women powered businesses. I want my profits to work for other good organizations.
ABI: What’s your best advice for other artists who would like to wholesale their jewelry?
MH: I actually do a fair amount of mentoring, and the number one thing I “shout from the roof-tops” is: make sure you have done the math and have a line of goods that each can be marked-up at least at 2.5 and the higher the better.
Certainly make sure that you have done some test marketing at a full retail (again: 2.5 or better) price and take time to learn, learn, learn about the nuances of wholesale. It is the only way to really – long term – make a solid income, but it has its quirky “best practices” and you really want that first account to count.
I love that the Arts Business Institute has created so many ways for people to learn how to blossom at their crafts. Spending time and money on courses via ABI is the smartest move anyone could make.