Hearts and Crafts: Émilie Mulcahey & A Dapper Collar Pin

I can’t wait for you to meet Émilie! Émilie is an artist who creates the most fun and whimsical concepts for crafts and jewelry. She’s also a total badass who teaches metalsmithing classes and creates a jewelry line with her best friend Frankie. She was recently featured in the Craft + Design Show in Richmond, Virginia with her work which you can find in her Etsy shop!

Émilie is so eloquent and sweet that I’ve decided to just entirely use her words here because a summary wouldn’t do her justice.

Émilie: I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. VCU is one of the only programs in the country that actually has a “Crafts” program. It’s really great because you are in a fine arts program that stresses theory and exploration just as much as technical skill and execution. A lot of kids from other departments were horrified when they learned they actually had to make functional pieces of art. The department breaks down to five basic areas (metal, ceramics, glass, wood, and fiber) and each area specializes from there. I did my specialization in the metals area with a focus in jewelry. The metals department was fantastic because there was such a broad range of skills to learn but the setting was intimate enough that you felt like family with everyone in the shared studio area.

I started teaching at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond my last semester of college. It’s a really diverse center that has everything from glass blowing to film festivals to papier mâché sculpture parades. The VACR started out as a small skill share group called The Hand Workshop back in the sixites, but today is located in a converted milk factory in the Uptown Arts district of Richmond. I teach a bunch of different metalsmithing classes, but most of what I offer centers around color and surface finishes on jewelry. I work an admin job 8-5, so it’s nice to wind down the end of my day teaching people about what I love to do.

My senior thesis “Large and In Charge” was my celebration of body fat. Our culture puts a lot of pressure on young people to be a certain size and shape, and at a certain point I found myself no longer able to take all of that pressure. This body of work was my way of reclaiming my body as something fat and fabulous. I made an entire line of fat suits, corsets, and brooches that mimicked my skin and lumps of flesh. I used the most luxurious materials I could find to create these “fat puffs” and gave them each straightforward names like “Saddle Bags” and “Love Handles”. I didn’t want the viewer to feel like these pieces were in any way hiding or sugarcoating fat bodies. Instead, I wanted to create pieces that people of any size could wear to feel sensuous, curvy, and beautiful.

I first dreamed up my queer collaborative jewelry line with my best friend Frankie at 3 in the morning before a critique in college. We were so frustrated with the artificial making process that goes on in academia and the pressure to make work that conforms to certain standards that we began fantasizing about making the loudest, queerest, most over the top work possible. Things just sort of flowed from there. Frankie and I do a lot of travelling together so most of our ideas stem from inspiration we get on the road. We definitely play to our strengths in this line of work; I am all about color and finish, Frankie is all about process and details. Usually we are handing pieces back and forth several times before they are “done”. The creative process is completely different when working with another person because your entire approach to making changes to fit both your making styles, schedules, and visual preferences. We have done a couple of shows together, most recently the Collage Festival this past April in Philadelphia. When I work with Frankie I feel like I can be more playful and risky. Having someone else around to tell you “no, that’s not a stupid at all!” is really freeing.

Okay, I’m back. Told you she was wonderful. Émilie’s Etsy shop is full of fun and whimsical jewelry that you should check out. I especially love the wooden rings. How gorgeous are those?

Émilie has also agreed to share with us instructions on making an adorable collar pin! Read on for the tutorial:

Dressed Up Dapper Collar Pin

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Supplies You Will Need
+ Natural Objects (make sure one of these is something strong like a bone or a stick as this will be the structure for your pin)
+ Craft Paint & Paintbrush
+ Wire
+ Hot Glue Gun
+ Pliers & Scissors/Snips
+ Tie Tac

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1. Use craft paint to add an accent color to your structure piece (for this project I chose a wish bone).

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2. Start wrapping your piece of wire around the base of your structure piece. Make sure to have wrapped wire at least twice so that it is well anchored.

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3. Wrap other chosen objects to structure piece (feathers, stones, dried flowers, and any other found objects that are not too fragile). As a rule of thumb, make sure to wrap each piece individually to the base twice around to ensure a strong hold. When all pieces are fully attached, snip off any extra wire that may protrude.

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4. Hot Glue your Tie Tac to wire wrapped base. …And you’re done!

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Hearts and Crafts is where we talk to artists and crafters about their amazing work and they share a craft tutorial with us! It’s the best of every world.

Header by Rory Midhani

Know an awesome queer artist and crafter who should be featured in an upcoming Hearts and Crafts? Email hansen[at]autostraddle[dot]com!

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Hansen is the DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in her free time.

Hansen has written 181 articles for us.

3 Comments

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    I am especially wowed because i had to drop out of the jewelry & metals class i was taking one semester because i was so bad at it. But those earrings, the clean lines on them! And contrasted with the roughness of the wooden rings (i want one even though i don’t really wear jewelery)! And, of course, the concept & execution of the “Large and in Charge” pieces! I really like the mix of works that are loaded with meaning & those that are just more fun, like the super-queer jewelry Émilie said she makes in collaboration with her friend.

    Of course, my lack of skill where jewelry-making is concerned means that i could probably follow the pin instructions step by step & still manage to screw something up. :’D Whoooops.

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