In her rural childhood she absorbed the subtle patterns of growth evolving through the seasons. Her approach to design is rooted in the observation of these small changes. Fascinated with repetition in the natural world she plays with iterations of shape. The work is focused on dimensional form using a limited color palate to create distinctive jewelry.
Early experiments with bits of scrap metal while in high school evolved into enrolling in a silversmithing class. Collecting skills and experimenting with the lovely plasticity of precious metals became a lifelong passion. There is a sense of humility and continuity intrinsic to practicing skills that have been in use for thousands of years. With a way to direct fire, a few hand tools and imagination amazing things have been created across the centuries.
A favorite technique utilizes the distinctive color values of precious metal alloys. “I fuse gold to silver in precise designs using the silver as the canvas, and 24k, 22k and18t gold in their subtle shadings of yellow green, and rose.” Once the patterned metal has been created she textures the surface using hammers, engraving tools and the rolling mill before building the piece.
Mackellar earned a BA (Hons) degree in jewelry making and 3D design from the Hallam University, School of Art and Design, in Sheffield, England, in the 1970s. She continued to train in New York, where she apprenticed to Deborah Aguado, and then back in England. In 1980, she opened her design and production jewelry studio in Brooklyn.
This acclaimed jewelry maker is well known for her interesting bangles, with their juxtaposition of precious metals. Her work wears well from jeans to evening attire. The bracelets, which range from stylishly simple accent pieces to more dramatic ones fitted with stones, look wonderful worn stacked in a group.
MacKellar wants women to feel “confident and comfortable” in her jewelry. “Once on, the jewelry should feel great as well as look great”