I have always been involved in art and had anticipated a career as a painter, but an elective metalsmithing class, taken while studying architectural design in Southern Illinois in the 1970s, was the spark that ignited my career in Jewelry Arts field. I very quickly became fascinated with the techniques used to form metal, a seemingly very hard immutable substance, into sculptural and even intricate shapes.
After college graduate studies, I received some of my technical training by apprenticing with a Goldsmith in the Chicago area, while working in a small gem and jewelry school. Moving to Washington State's beautiful Cascade Mountains in 1982, I formed Östling & Brooks Ltd with my partner and in the following Autumn, we opened a jewelry store in Leavenworth WA. Skills learned while taking jewelry arts and advanced stone setting classes from the Gemological Institute of America helped me in designing and creating the majority of the work found there. Thirty years later, the retail store is now closed but I continue to design and create for private and public clients around the world, as Östling Jewelry Design, LLC. I have been blessed, over the years, by receiving several awards and accolades from my peers in the field of jewelry design, including the AGTA Spectrum Award, De Beers Diamonds Today Award and De Beers' Diamonds International Awards.
When I am not up to my elbows in gold dust in my studio, you will find me "at the barn" immersed in the world of my equine companions or in the company of my fellow Gaelic speaking or Gaelic singing friends.
A personal message from Margaret...
Artistic expression has always been a necessity for me. While still a young woman, living and traveling with my parents in the Orient, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, I found myself drawn to the rich mythologies and artistic expressions of ancient lands and cultures. These magical stories, written and depicted in the effort to express the meaning and experience of life, made a deep and lasting impression on my young mind and spirit.
Since that time, my artwork has been a pilgrimage to uncover and express my own mythology. I believe that we each have a personal mythology, often subconscious, through which we define and see ourselves more clearly. One is a hunter, a poet, a mariner... and our personal amulets protect us, connect us, inspire us, heal us.
I create these amulets, for myself and for others. I tell stories with my jewelry.... the story of an experience, the story of a person's life, loves, desires..... the story of a culture; alive, long gone or struggling to survive.
My attraction to working in precious metals as a medium is in its sense of strength and permanence. From the power of forging silver to melting and pouring molten gold in a crucible, the process itself feels steeped in mythos and mystery. I create amulets that can be handed down from generation to generation, each time creating a new mythology... "My Mother's brooch", "My Grandfather's ring". At each passing, the story becomes richer, perhaps more powerful, as it continues to the next chapter and bearer.
Influences and Aspirations
I find that my training and experience in the fields of Design and Architecture have had a great influence on my work as a goldsmith. In particular, the Pythagorean concept that "Man is the measure of all things" is my steadfast guide. I believe that jewelry can and should be comfortable in addition to being aesthetically pleasing.
When designing and executing a piece, I strive to be acutely aware of body proportion and movement. As a result, my style has evolved into one of subtle asymmetry, following the natural curves and angles of the human form. For example, I have devised a technique of creating my ring designs to be either right or left-handed by utilizing a subtle but effective triangulated twist. Throughout the design therefore, most of my ring shanks are not straight. They are curved and sculpted into the ring's design so that they do not come into contact with one's knuckles, and are balanced in such a way that they are barely felt when worn.
The architect Mies van der Rohe adopted the phrase "Less is More" to define his Minimalist style and I find this defines my work as well. Some clients have called the work "simple but elegant." Personally, I find joy in the kinetics of carving the moving and shifting planes of each small sculpture. Therein lies my Muse.
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville, IL
Undergraduate studies in Fine Art
Maryville University - St. Louis, MO
Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, 1975
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, IL
Graduate Studies, Metal Arts
Lizzadro Jewelry School - Elmurst, IL
Continuing Education, Jewelry & Lapidary Studies
Northern Illinois University - De Kalb, IL
Graduate Studies, Metal Arts
Rocky Mt. College - Summervail Workshops - Vail, CO
Continuing Education, Metal Arts
Jewelry Arts Institute - New York, N.Y.
Continuing Education - granulation, niello, and enameling
Gemological Institute of America - Santa Monica, CA
Advanced Stone Setting, Channel Setting, Pave Setting.
Highline Community College - Federal Way, WA -
Professional Jewelry Rendering Techniques, Enameling Symposium
De Beers' Diamonds International Award, London Finalist and Honorable Mention London, England
Spectrum Award Winner, American Gem Trade Association
De Beers Diamonds Today Award Winner, New York
American Vision Award Winner, Professional Category, Manufacturing Jewelers & Silversmiths of America
Vision Award Design Competition, Award of Excellence, American Pearl Company
EXHIBITIONS and SHOWS
Del Mano Gallery (Featured Artist) - Los Angeles, CA
Concepts Gallery - Carmel, CA
Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Fair (Bellevue Art Museum) - Bellevue, WA
Artfest (Cheney-Cowles Art Museum) - Spokane, WA
Carillon Festival of the Arts - Kirkland, WA
Diamonds International Award Exhibit - London England
AGTA Spectrum Award - USA Tour
Diamonds Today Award - USA Tour
MJSA American Vision Award - Jewelers of America New York Show January
Illinois Artisans and Craftsmen - Barrett & Schuller
Goodfellow Catalog of Wonderful Things - Chilton
Gems and Minerals Magazine (jewelry-making articles published)
Modern Jewelers Magazine
Jewelers Circular Keystone Magazine
Asia Precious Magazine