FOURTEEN YEARS AGO,
Cat McCadden moved from Philadelphia to Seattle armed with jewelry she’d collected over the years, a penchant for the coast, and an antsy feeling. As a freelance graphic designer, she used design skills every day, but the two-dimensional nature of the work left her creatively dissatisfied. “I wanted to create something tangible with my hands that meant more to people than a flat image,” McCadden recalls. “I asked myself, ‘What can I do that will impact everyday moments?’” Drawing on her lifelong love of jewelry and the notion that pieces are often attached to significant life events (engagements, birthdays, travel), McCadden began to work with metal, creating chunky necklaces and drop earrings with long chains. She called her burgeoning company Grace Gow in homage to her late grandmother, who “was always doing amazing projects: sewing glam Katherine Hepburn–style suits, whipping up French-inspired meals, or making oil paintings. She was a creative inspiration.” After three years of small but successful trunk shows, in 2010 McCadden started metalsmithing classes at Pratt Fine Arts Center. There she worked with rough, uncut stones, exploring ways to translate natural forms in modern ways. Her newly launched spring-summer 2016 collection, her fourth to date, is a testament to refined craft and the
SEE MORE OF MCCADDEN’S WORK AT GRAYMAG.COM/ GRACEGOW
allure of the seaside. Stud earrings with basket settings show off rough tourmalines in aquatic hues. Miniature crab claws, cast in bronze or silver, dangle from delicate chains. Barnacle rings nestle against fingers in a reminder of their watery inspiration. Each detailed piece is infused with nostalgic glamour and a love of the ocean. “This collection is fully inspired by places where the city meets the sea,” says McCadden, who recently decamped from Seattle to live and work on Vashon Island, a 20-minute ferry ride away. “We all attach our own meaning to jewelry, but everyone remembers spending summer days at the beach. These oceanic forms evoke a sentimental connection to the sea that’s universal.” h
“IT’S INCREDIBLE TO SEE HOW CERTAIN FORMS OF JEWELRY MAKING REALLY HAVEN’T CHANGED IN THE PAST 10,000 YEARS. IT’S POWERFUL TO THINK ABOUT THAT HISTORY WHEN YOU WORK IN THIS MEDIUM.” —CAT MCCADDEN, DESIGNER
The Sea Goddess ring features a rough-cut tourmaline gemstone. OPPOSITE: A model wears an Asymmetrical Gladiator necklace made from forged brass segments that can move organically. graymag . com
The DESIGN MAGAZINE for the Pacific Northwest.