ode boutique

September 2018

Artist Interview

Erin McNally of Tiny Anvil

September 4, 2018

There's an ocean about Erin: a depth and fathomless calm, a wild beauty, a quiet wisdom and a spirit that inspires wonder. She's someone with whom you'd want to travel, garden, sip tea on a porch swing. A friend and artist at Ode since we opened our doors 8 years ago, Erin McNally started out making sculptural leather earrings and has since grown her Tiny Anvil collection into something more intricately expansive: architectural and etched brass and stone pieces inspired by the natural world. What we love about Erin's jewelry is that each design is so unique, and yet so wearable. There's a simplicity to each piece that makes her pieces so universally beloved. Join us for a night with Erin, where she'll be featuring one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces. Friday, September 14th, 6-8pm, at Ode.

What inspires you and your designs?
I am inspired by the enduring solid designs of old simple tools. I am also inspired by natural formations and symmetries. My vision for the jewelry I design spans beyond aesthetic and adornment. I strive to create pieces that are beautiful but, in some cases, I am more interested in making pieces that the wearer can imbue with their own meaning, connecting their sense of identity to the object, and even deriving a sense of power and protection from the piece. I have always been interested in self expression as a form of empowerment. I am drawn to jewelry that is linked to cultural and social expressions of power and emotion- talismans, ritual adornments, signifiers of commitment, faith, loss, etc. I am interested in the ability jewelry has to wordlessly express so much about who we are. I make my jewelry with the hope that it can become the wearers everyday piece, keeping them anchored to themselves, and giving them a way to express themselves to the world around them without words.

Is there a “Tiny Anvil” in your collection of tools?
Several (wink).

You are a bit of a fish. Talk to us about the importance of water to you. Where’s your favorite place to swim?
I am a pisces so water is in my stars. I get a deep sense of peace when I am in an expansive spaces so the ocean is incredibly comforting for me to look at and swim in. One of my favorite places to swim is at Flamenco Beach on Culebra, Puerto Rico. There is a stretch where the waves are big and the break is shallow and, if you duck under at just the right time, you can propel up out of the crest of the wave. When it crashes water rains back on you in a gentle sprinkle and often creates a momentary rainbow. Its unbelievably fun. Around here in Western MA I love a swimming hole in Conway.

What’s your spirit stone?
I am drawn to the stones that contain light like labradorite and opal. I think they are magical.

A wandering spirit and adventurer, you have traveled to and lived in many different places. Where is your “heart spot”? I learned a lot about knowing people from the heart more than from the head living in Culebra, PR so I’d say that is a “heart spot”. But I also have been gardening at the Northampton Community Gardens on Burts Pit Rd for 10 years and my heart is always nourished by that space.

If you could describe your aesthetic in one sentence, what would it be?
Simple grounded enduring and functional design with balanced embellishment.

What famous or influential person would you love to adorn with Tiny Anvil?
Alive: Solange
Departed: Frida Kahlo

From your early leather earrings to your current intricate metalwork, your collection has really transformed through the years. How has your art and your philosophy evolved?
A lot of the evolution of my style has coincided with the progression of my skills as a metalsmith. Initially, as I was self-teaching, I was very experimental with materials. Eventually, as I started to dig in to more traditional bench work, I was able to build my aesthetic around more simplicity. The knowledge I gained helped me to achieve impact with less detail/embellishment. Now, as I continue to advance my skills, I am able to bring in more detail while maintaining solidity and integrity. I think there is a common thread that links my aesthetic throughout its evolution and now, having established an extensive line of work, I feel I am able to branch out again into experimenting with materials and drawing in bolder elements like the stones I am incorporating. I have consistently wanted to have my jewelry be a part of individual empowerment through self expression, and to make pieces that feel grounding and anchoring, so my philosophical views for jewelry have only become better articulated as I acquire more skill. 

What grows in your garden?
Currently tomato, tomatillo, husk cherry, delicata squash, zucchini, jalepeno and anaheim peppers, watermelon, eggplant, kale, cucamelons, raspberries, sunflowers, tons of herbs, echinacea, weeds- lots of weeds. Also marigolds, I’m hoping to have enough to make a garland.

Three years from today, where are you and what are you making or doing?
I’ll be living close to the ocean, at least part of the year and I will be making jewelry out of a space that will have a small showroom/shop where I can feature other makers from my community.