(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the next installment in a series of articles highlighting local artists who create wearable art. These Fashion Friday features will be published each month on First Friday.)
Venita, Okla., transplant, Nate Hennigan, 33, has lived in Williamsport for most of his life. At age 18, after graduating from Williamsport Area High School, he worked as an apprentice with an area handcrafted jeweler.
Hennigan's designs can be bought at Jennifer Engel Designs, 901 Hepburn St.
To set up an appointment to visit the shop he runs out of his home, customers can call 329-5131 or contact Hennigan and check his designs online at natehennigangold smith.net.
Tara D. McKinney: When did you become interested in your craft?
Nate Hennigan: I first got my hands on precious metals and gemstones in my 10th grade art class at Williamsport Area High School. My teacher, Mr. Schuler, taught me the basics and I have been hooked ever since.
TDM: How do you design a new piece?
NH: There are many ways to approach designing a new piece. A lot of times it revolves around a client's particular wants or needs. We have a creative meeting of the minds and try to figure out exactly what they are looking for. I incorporate their ideas as well as some of my suggestions or ideas and proceed until we have enough guidelines to render a detailed sketch of how the piece will look when finished. Upon receiving approval of a sketch, we then proceed with the waxing, casting and finishing stages of the process, all of which are carried out by me in house. In situations in which I'm afforded more design freedom and creative control, I simply use the medium to express what it is. Sometimes I just trust in what I'm feeling at that point in time. I allow the materials to compose a harmonious design that I'm happy with. It basically comes down to a feeling. I strive for a crisp, clean, timeless design.
TDM: What inspires you to create?
NH: Inspiration is all around at any given moment. Whether it's inspired by architecture or elements of nature, the ultimate goal is to do the materials justice and create a wearable work of art that makes a statement.
TDM: How much would one of your designs cost?
NH: I can create pieces to fit most budgets - from simple to elaborate, a dainty or a large statement piece - I design to fit the clients' needs. A sterling silver bracelet retails for $150. A two-tone 14K yellow gold and sterling silver ring with a 10x12mm oval tourmalinated quartz with blazing red accents retails for $320. The prices I mentioned are all part of an existing line. All custom or original orders are made to bring the customer's concept to reality while keeping their budget in mind. Overall price in these cases are basically dictated by the customers themselves.
TDM: Do you incorporate style trends as they come and go or stick to your own design ideals?
NH: I feel like when you design a new piece, you have to be open-minded and willing to take risks. As long as you do this and hold fast to your core values of durability and aesthetics, you can design pieces that are both unique and innovative and sure to make a statement.
TDM: Can you describe a piece that embodies your signature style?
NH: Any piece I've designed really says, "Nate Hennigan." There are quite a few jewelers in the area so I try to design pieces that stand out amongst the masses. The pieces are recognizable as Nate Hennigan signature jewelry.
TDM: How do you maintain that creative spark?
NH: The love of the arts itself has a lot to do with staying creative. Simply put, I love the artistic medium of precious gemstones and precious metals and try to bring out the best in the materials. I express my passion for the medium with each piece I create. I think that if you are truly passionate about what it is that you do, it makes a big difference in the final product.
TDM: Do you have any new designs you would like people to be aware of?
NH: I've been very happy with all of the projects I've been completing. I'm very excited with the direction I am going in and will constantly be trying to achieve growth as an artist in the jewelry industry.
TDM: Are there any local jewelry designers you admire or have learned from?
NH: Since day one of branching out on my own, my wife and I have had a close relationship with Dorothy Fisher of Eagles Mere. She is an awesome artist, jeweler and, more importantly, an amazing person who has always seemed to care as much for my career and future as an artist as I do. In many ways, too numerous to count, she is responsible for where I've ended up at this point in my life and career.
TDM: What do you enjoy about living and working in the Williamsport area?
NH: First and foremost, my family and friends are here. I also appreciate the artistic direction taking place in recent years in downtown Williamsport as well as surrounding areas. I look forward to what lies around the corner and feel like as long as I continue taking care of our clients' needs first, our future should turn out pretty darn decent in Williamsport.
McKinney may be reached at life@sun gazette.com.
To submit an artist for consideration, email email@example.com or call 326-1551, ext. 3108.