Our first Featured Maker is Maggie Bokor, the eponymous jeweler of Maggie Bokor Jewelry. Based in Southern Maine, Maggie specializes in beautiful silver creations reflecting the natural world. In this two part blog interview, I chatted with Maggie to find out more about her creative process and vision:
Quinstance: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Ms. Bokor! For starters, how long have you been making jewelry? Why did you go into jewelry, and why did you decide to do this full time?
Maggie Bokor: My background is in ceramics – I studied at the Rhode Island School of Design in the ‘90s. I loved the idea of being a part of people’s lives and reaching a large audience with my work. I was drawn to outdoor tile installations and wrote my first grant for public concrete and tile benches as my senior thesis that are still standing at a local museum in Massachusetts today.
After college, I taught clay, pursued a career in public art while I worked for many different artists that were focused on the wholesale and retail craft worlds. I learned what it meant to be a craftsperson, but I never figured out how to turn my love for clay into a long-term career.
After a detour to the Mid-Atlantic area practicing design and continuing my arts education, I moved to Maine in 2006 to pursue my dream of being a full-time artist. I began taking metal-smith classes and seeing jewelry making as an avenue to engage people: one person at a time. A year later, I was introduced to an amazing metal product called PMC (precious metal clay). It’s a fine silver mix with a bonding agent, which I can work with the same way I work with clay. Once fired, the binder burns out and what is left is fine silver. I was hooked!
When I first started wholesaling, I made all of my pieces as one of a kind. I loved the individual nature, but it was a huge amount of work to try to remake the same pieces to match the original design. As I began casting in sterling silver, I was able to capture my favorite ideas and turn them into unified collections. It created an heirloom quality that I love without losing the sculptural qualities so inherent in my work.
Q: How has your jewelry evolved since you first started making it?
MB: It has been a process transitioning from sculpture to metalwork. After getting certified in both PMC and Art Clay while taking a plethora of metal smithing classes, I feel that I have found a great balance. I am currently branching out to play with more stone setting and one of a kind pieces. I work on staying current by following the vibe of my audience’s desires while staying true to myself.
Since I’ve started in wholesale, I’ve had to take a step back and look at the big picture. I ask myself “What do I think is successful and what feeds my soul?” This makes for excellent interaction with my audience. They become the advocates of my jewelry. Learning that has helped me draw the authenticity from my story and my jewelry has become more vibrant as a result.
Q: What part of the creation process do you like best? What is the most rewarding part of your work?
MB: I have two. The first is when I am alone with my sketch book. My practical brain tends to quiet down and my more playful side has a chance to invent new designs from the heart. It is so rewarding to find sparks of ingenuity within me. My second favorite part is translating those drawings into metal clay. It’s a powerful moment for me to see my vision come to life.Come back in a few days to read the final part of our interview with Maggie Bokor!