July 24th, 2024

Mental health inspires local goldsmith’s new jewellery line

By Nicholas Allen - for the Lethbridge Herald on May 12, 2022.

Herald photo by Nicholas Allen Goldsmith McKenna Morrison with the earrings called 'My Favourite' that she designed for her line of jewellery, McKenna Kay Designs, at Tompkins Jewellers.

A local goldsmith has started her own jewellery line featuring pieces dedicated to mental health.
Goldsmith McKenna Morrison launched a line of jewellery, McKenna Kay Designs, after goldsmithing for close to three years with Tompkins Jewellers. The McKenna Kay Designs ‘Emotions’ collection is handmade here in Lethbridge.
“About six months ago, I had brought in some reticulated metal, and Lisa [Tompkins] kind of prompted me. ‘Well, maybe you should be starting your own jewellery line.’ So, I worked on my days off and created my own jewellery line using reticulated silver metal and some reticulated gold… really an organic look,” said Morrison.
In metalwork, reticulation refers to decorative surface finishing involving the application of heat to the surface of a metal object. Morrison said when the line was finished, everyone at the office looked at the finished product, and they realized the jewellery looked like it had been “put through the wringer”.
She said they saw how it represented mental health, so they decided to release the line of jewellery during National Mental Health Week (May 10-16).
“It’s very crinkled looking, very organic. The metal has to be melted five to seven times in order to create the reticulated metal. So, it definitely has the struggles that it goes through and has a reflection of what people with mental illness go through as well,” explained Morrison.
Morrison said that many people, including herself, experienced some sort of pandemic-related disassociation from society not being able to see loved ones or connect with others.
“I think a lot more people can now relate to [the jewellery line]. I think everyone has been touched by the pandemic in some form or another,” said Morrison.
Morrison added that going into making the jewellery, she had no intention of the line reflecting mental health. She says that is all a part of the creative process though.
“You do renderings, sketches and then when you actually start making it, sometimes the metal decides it’s going to be something else. What you envisioned isn’t what is quite produced,” said Morrison.
Morrison used to work as a dental technologist where she said she learned a lot of the same hands-on techniques.
“Now I have a lot more creative freedom to be able to make whatever I would like or work with the customer and making what they like and that’s very rewarding,” said Morrison.
She said goldsmithing isn’t really a job that everybody hears about. Morrison said finding her first apprenticeship was “tricky”, but she wanted to try and make a career out of a dying art.
“I didn’t want to be a dental technologist, but I still wanted to use that education and finding somebody that would teach me and apprentice me and Lisa Tompkins has gracefully done that for the last three years,” said Morrison.
She said that each piece of her collection has been named based on something the jewellery will inspire in the wearer.
“One is Resilience, one is Growth… And I named my favourite earrings, My Favourite,” said Morrison.
All of the jewellery is made with recycled material, according to Tompkins Jewellers owner Lisa Tompkins. For more information on McKenna Kay Designs visit the Tompkins Jewellers website.

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