Artist of the Month | Gretchen McHale Argood

Tell me a little about what inspired the design for your wedding necklace & your bridesmaids? The inspiration for me is always the fashion.  I start with the style of the dress, and move forward from there.  I then shopped for the elements for my jewelry and the girls jewelry.  I didn’t go into the shopping with a specific design in mind…I let the colors guide me and chose gems and crystals that I liked, and the designs grew from there. 
What about your mom's gems, is she as fashion forward as you? My mom is much more conservative than me, so I wanted to honor and respect her sense of style while still adding some flash and pizzazz! My mom’s jewelry featured freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals in a variety of whisky shades.  I also made jewelry for the mother of the groom and the 2 flower girls, and used Swarovski crystals and chain elements in them. 
So for you then? My jewelry featured keshi pearls, Swarovski crystals, Swarovski briolette pendants, and vintage leaded crystals.  The bridesmaids had smaller versions of the Swarovski pendants featured in my necklace and faceted cloudy quartz. 
Exactly how many pieces did you have on that day? On my wedding day I wore the following things that I created: necklace, earrings, pearl bracelet with my “something blue” being a heart shaped toggle clasp with a key closure that says “you are my joy”, the wedding cuff, and an anklet that featured a sixpence from 1947 that had been a part of a bracelet my grandmother used to wear (and to complete the rhyme-something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence for her shoe).  In addition to the pieces I made, I wore an antique diamond and sapphire platinum ring that had belonged to my great aunt Kay, my Fossil watch (I seriously can’t live without knowing what time it is, and I hid it under my cuff!), my Lagos Heart of Philadelphia bracelet that was a birthday gift from all my dear girlfriends, my engagement ring that my husband and I designed together, and later in the day my wedding band that my husband and I designed together.
What inspired you to make the cuff? I wanted something bold and different, and I wasn’t coming up with anything that really excited me…I decided to try something really out of the box and different for me.  I knew I’d have a lot of fabric from my hem and that I wanted to used it in my bouquet, and when I was thinking about how that was going to look and be adorned, I got the idea for the cuff.  I worked with one of my bridesmaids on the construction of the base of the cuff and then spent countless hours embellishing it by hand with thousands of Swarovski crystals and tiny seed pearls.

How long did it take to make the complete wedding jewel package for your wedding? I procrastinated….a lot!  But it was my own wedding and I knew what I had to work with, and how long it would take to get done.  I shopped for my gems about 6 months in advance of the wedding, but the actual production and creating of the jewels took about 6 weeks of insanity.  That included 8 bridesmaids sets of necklace and earrings, 1 Mother of the Bride set of necklace, earrings, and bracelet, 1 Mother of the Groom set of necklace and earrings, 2 Flower Girl sets of necklaces and earrings as well as pomander ball chains, and the bridal Parure which consisted of earrings, necklace, bracelet, cuff, and anklet.

How far in advance do girls need to book your services? The cuff alone says 4-8 weeks…Timing all depends on how intricate they want the jewelry to be.  I’m a bold bride and knew I wanted really edgy bold pieces for my wedding.  Lots of brides like smaller, delicate things which can be made within a shorter time frame.  The cuff is tricky, as production on that can’t happen till the bride has had her fitting and has the fabric with which to create the cuff.  I did make one in 2 weeks but that was straight up sewing for like 6 hours a day (in addition to my full time job!)  The answer to the question is, I can work with whatever timeline comes my way.  If you give me a year, I can spend half of that time working on concept and materials sourcing, and the world is your oyster in terms of options.  If you’re booking 2 months out, you can’t be as specific with the types of gems and materials used, but you’ll still look divine on your wedding day!

Is it ok for me to refer to you as a Magpie? ;-) of course!!!!  !

Gretchen is one of a kind - and so are her pieces - so you have to move fast unless you are going to have her design somethings specifically for you! Custom work is truly welcome!Check out her pieces on her site, you can pick up a few pieces of her latest on Etsy and of course see what she's up to on FaceBook! Share the "Like!"

Special thanks to Chris Kendig Photography for capturing G+A's day and details so perfectly!