We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Boyle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work / life balance is a tricky topic. For many years, I resisted any idea of having my own business because I wanted to be able to walk out of a work place and into my home and private time in a clean way. I had seen many people where the work bled into personal time and I didn’t want to live that way any more than I had to, especially when I was already working long days. What changed for me was getting worn out from the structure of corporate life and feeling like I wasn’t adding much value to the world. Becoming a creator can be all-consuming if I’m not careful, but I love what I do and no longer feel that I need to keep that clear delineation between parts of my life. In this way I feel more like a “whole” person–but it is a challenge to carve out time (my long-time partner Ron would say I’m not very good at it, but I’m trying!).
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
There are thousands of talented jewelers and it’s taken me a few years to stop feeling like an imposter. I am much more comfortable now naming what I think defines my work. First, I am not afraid to combine techniques and styles (this goes back to the creative solutions my Dad embodied). It’s essential to learn safety basics, how metals work together, and the nuances of soldering, for example. But once the fundamentals are covered, real creativity can kick in. That leads me to a second point, which is that I try not to set a lot of rules about jewelry. When people ask if something would be “good” or “right”, I respond that I don’t really think about jewelry that way. My only rules are that adornments are comfortable to wear, that they are durable, and that they bring pleasure to the wearer. No, it hasn’t been easy to figure out where my strengths lie, but giving myself permission to make lots of mistakes and ride the wave of learning has been really important. It is probably one of the best gifts I’ve given myself. Maybe one of the best lessons has been to quit worrying about what other people are doing and find my creative flavors–which include textures, mixing metals, and repurposing materials.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This question is a lot more difficult right now, in what I call “Covid World.” Focusing more on outdoor activities, I would without doubt take her to visit Historic Oakland Cemetery. It’s rich in architecture and history, and I love being able to do shows on the beautiful grounds. Oakland will always have a special place for me and I like to share it with others. We might visit Six Feet Under across Memorial Drive, which has an extensive collection of breweriana (beer memorabilia) and a cool upper deck that overlooks the cemetery. If we wanted sushi, we’d visit Bottle Rocket in historic Castleberry Hill. A leisurely stroll through the Atlanta Botanical Garden would be on the docket. One of Atlanta’s best-kept secrets (or at least it took us too long to find out) is the Center for Puppetry Arts. One day we’d visit there first then check out the High Museum to get a variety of art exposure. In a different vein, we’d stop by Decatur’s Kimball House to have one of the best-mixed cocktails in all of metro Atlanta, perhaps on the way to Arepa Mia in Avondale Estates for a fantastic sweet corn cachapa. No question we’d at some point satisfy our appetites in Clarkston at our friends’ place Brockett Pub House & Grill. A low-key but fun afternoon would involve visiting the shops on Chamblee’s Antique Row and finishing up on the patio at Southbound for a delicious dinner. (I’m talking about food a lot…I guess that comfort food is especially important right now.) If we had a week, I’d probably reserve a small cabin near Blue Ridge to enjoy some fresh air and trees. Mercier Orchards is worth a visit, with a huge general store and a cider tasting room. Harvest on Main in Blue Ridge has some great food in a cozy atmosphere. Wandering around the little main street with a variety of shops and a funky art gallery is a great way to spend an afternoon.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to recognize my roots by giving credit to my hard-working Mom and Dad. One demonstrated organization and perseverance; the other, a curiosity and drive to solve problems and come up with creative solutions. My Dad never turned me away when I wanted to learn how to work on the car, asked why one tool was better than another, or tried my hand at welding (I was awful). I mention on my website that some of the best memories are of dust flying in Dad’s workshop. A deep love for hand creation started there, thanks to Dad’s precision and patience. I also have at least a dozen friends and family members whose belief in my abilities kept me going when I felt I was stretching too far. I’m forever grateful for that unwavering support.
Other: In 2020, I’ve been exploring a different area of creativity, blending nourishing skin oils and butters and learning about essential oils. I’m close to publishing a small site dedicates to the recipes I’ve been testing and tweaking: www.MaribellaBlends.com
Mary Boyle, Sharon Snyder Fuente (Lifesong Photography)