Heather Tanton Collier is a Richmond-based marketing executive and jewelry-maker. In addition to her full time job and her jewelry business, she also juggles the nonstop challenge of motherhood. Her studio space is nestled in a spare guest bedroom on the second floor of her family's Fan house, and overlooks a huge magnolia tree and a small, sunny porch. We talked with her about the tools she uses to stay grounded in her practice and her intentions.
Growing up in South Alabama in the 80s and 90s, Heather was surrounded by sophisticated and stylish church-going ladies. Her grandmother was the epitome of a quintessential southern lady, and taught Heather about manners, how to set a table, and what it meant to have style. Her grandmother's hats always matched not only her shoes, but her handbags as well — some of which she made herself. She also had an amazing jewelry collection that she had carefully curated over time, working with a local jeweler to design many of the pieces herself. Whenever Heather visited with her grandmother, she would let Heather lay out all the jewelry on the carpet and play dress up with her pieces. It is a magical and beautiful memory for Heather, but it never occurred to her to make her own jewelry until much later in life.
During one of Heather's visits home from college, she and her mother signed up for a jewelry-making class, which quickly became an obsession for both of them. Heather and her mother began making pieces for friends and family, and Heather continued to take jewelry-making and metalworking classes. Feeling inspired and ambitious, Heather created Mother Daughter Jewelry in 2002. The name is a direct reference to the gracious influence of her mother and grandmother, and invokes the strength of their collective bond and the inspiration that comes from sharing beautiful objects and heirlooms.
Heather describes her work as contemporary, delicate, reverent and nostalgic — without feeling trapped in some bygone era. Wire, semi-precious stones, and handmade castings all figure prominently into many of her pieces. She also loves discovering incredible vintage pieces and often works some of those components into her designs. She'll be releasing a newly-designed website later this month that will feature one-of-a-kind vintage pieces as well as her original designs.