An Interview with Matisse


Silversmith // @mjwillardson

Photographer // @bonfireheart.photo



What inspired this collection?

My collection was inspired by my favorite movie The Endless Summer, my love of surfing and summer!  The 60’s documentary follows a group of boys following the sun for 365 days and pioneering surfing around the world, finding summer wherever they go. In the middle of the winter I’ve found myself longing for the sun as the Utah winters seem to last forever, and I was hoping to bring some summer vibes with my rings!

I was inspired by the colors and treasures of the ocean as well as the retro colors of the 60’s and surf culture!


Tell us about yourself! What do you do outside of Gem Studio?

I grew up in the middle of the mountains in Cache Valley Utah! I spent lots of time outside in the mountains as well as the California coast (which makes me a surfer girl by day and a horse girl by night). Now I live in slc as sophomore at the University of Utah studying Anthropology and human biology with the hope of going to medical school! Outside of work and school, I use any spare time I have left to watch New Girl and eat Reece’s peanut butter cups.


What else are you passionate about?

I’ve loved the ocean and everything in it my entire life. My family is from Southern California which we always visit any chance we get! I learned to surf when I was 12 and have surfed around the world from Bali to Portugal. It’s something that has taught me discipline as well as bring me so much joy and peace.  I also love art and history! I've recently become obsessed with 14th century Italy and the Renaissance period which inspired me to book a trip to Italy this summer!


What is currently playing on your Spotify?

2000 R&B/Pop throwbacks only, always and forever.


What do you want to manifest in your life over the next year?

A boyfriend.

On the real though I’m hoping to learn to accept my mistakes as a part of the process of my growth and not a set back.


What is your favorite gem, and why?

ABALONE!! Everyone who works with me or has been taught by me knows my obsession with it! Abalone is actually a seashell which I think is why I love it so much but I also love the bright shiny colors!


What is your favorite quote?

“In the midst of winter I found there was within me, an invincible summer” -Albert Camus (another big inspiration for the collection)


Who is your biggest inspiration?

My dad. He always remains positive and open minded no matter the circumstance and has kept a beautiful outlook on everything. He introduced me to art, cultures around the world and some of the most ~interesting~ food I’ve ever had. He taught me that it’s okay to fail because all the waves you don’t catch make the one you do worth it!


What is your favorite part of the silversmithing process?

I love the creative outlet it’s become for me but I think more than that is the connection that has come from it! Getting to sit down with a stranger for a few hours can teach you so much and they can end up leaving a friend. The best connections I’ve made though are with my coworkers. I love every one of them and they have all changed my life in some way or another! I’m super grateful that this job has led me to some of my best friends:)


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