Anne Harrill's delightful French accent exotically betrays her mastery of the English language. "Hooked" becomes "houked" and "originally" morphs into "arijinally." That distinct tinge of the faraway seeps into the Cleveland resident's handcrafted jewelry, too.
Harrill's Océanne line ranges from dainty to chunky to hand-stamped, and most pieces receive her signature patina, an oxidization process applied to copper that turns the metal bluish green. Think of the French-made Statue of Liberty, with her oxidized robes mellowing into uneven, antique shades.
"I get a lot people really liking the European, the French style," Harrill says. "When I stamp, I do use a lot of French endearments, expressions — I stamp mon amour, and people like that."
To find the materials for her jewelry, she searches Etsy, antique shops and other haunts for vintage lots or individual pieces that speak to her. She'll then slip her found items onto a chain and audaciously suggest you wear it around your neck.
The 32-year-old artist co-opts dollhouse decorations, incorporating tiny birdcages ($32), an empty picture frame ($34) and a heart-melting brass envelope with a removable love note ($24) into her work. She even coaxes a second life from grandmotherly doilies, translating the swatches of lace into wearable wisps of romance.
"I kind of like the idea of using ordinary objects," she says. "I like whimsical things."
So do Harrill's fans, who've snapped up her work from Etsy and at boutiques throughout the area, including Room Service, Banyan Tree, Winds of Change and Artefino.
Harrill first came to Cleveland for a summer when she was just a 21-year-old college kid studying English. She met her future husband and never left. "French people are not always too nice," she says. "That's why I really like Cleveland."
But on a trip back to France a few years ago, the girl who never thought of herself as an artist wandered into her craft through her mother, who taught her metalworking techniques. Simple, poetic and beautiful, like the legacy of her home country, Harrill and her jewelry returned and have found a home here in Cleveland.
"People are responding so well to what I make," she says. "I feel really lucky. It's kind of the dream, to be able to raise my child and do what I love."
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