JEWELRY: A TALK WITH PAULINE MACCAY

Pauline Maccay is the Filipino American designer of handmade by pmaccay. Each pair of earrings is named after and dedicated to people in her life who has encouraged her to keep moving forward. 

”Growing up, I didn’t have any other Filipino American artists and designers to look up to due to lack of exposure. The goal of my brand is to make large statement jewelry for all. It’s about the diversity of folx who wear my pieces, that’s the beauty. I received a BA in Art Practice at UC Berkeley with a focus on sculpture and installation, but I fell in love with clay sculpture in high school. I’ve been working with clay as a medium ever since. When making jewelry my goal is to create large statement pieces while being as light as possible. Polymer clay was the type of clay material that helped me achieve that. I wish to share my creations with you in the hope that you find the perfect statement piece that will best represent you and your most confident self!”

– pauline maccay

The designer begins by mixing together various types of polymer clay to create a sturdy base. Then she adds various pigments together to make a desired color before cutting them into shape. From there, she bakes the batch until it becomes sturdy yet bendable. Once cooled, the clay goes through a process of sanding, buffing, coating, and drilling before adding brass or pressed plant accents. There are also certain pairs of earrings I paint specific designs over and apply gold flakes and a resin finish. Since these are created by hand and at home it may include some beautiful imperfections, but we love imperfections!

Polymer clay is durable and bendy. However, sharp objects may scratch the surface so it is best to store it in its own jewelry compartment. To clean polymer clay jewelry, wipe it off with a piece of soft fabric. Rubbing alcohol can be applied to wipe away stains such as make up. To maintain the pressed plant accents it’s best to store the piece in a shaded area. Brass can tarnish overtime when exposed to humidity, but can be easily cleaned with a mixture lemon and baking soda.

A TALK WITH PAULINE MACCAY

How did your passion for design start and how your creative process work?

In my process of creating I go back home, to my roots, back to the pieces that define me. I take that and transform it into the physical, into wearables. 

I began making earrings for myself for fun. I wanted large bold earrings, but most of them were too heavy for my ears. I couldn’t find the exact pair of earrings that represented me and what I was looking for. I’ve had several years of experience as a clay sculptor so I really wanted to use clay as a medium and after some research I discovered polymer clay. Polymer Clay was a perfect medium for me to experiment with because it was lightweight and not too fragile, I am able to shape it into any form I wanted and convey exactly what I wanted. I was finally able to make the earrings that represented me and my most confident self. While wearing the earrings out, people began asking me where I bought the earrings. At first I was giving them to friends as gifts, but more and more people became interested and I needed more funds to purchase materials so I began selling the earrings. Due to growing demand, I was able to transform my DIY project into a small business. 

How do you think fashion industry is helping independent designers? 

Nowadays the fashion industry is highlighting more small businesses and pushing towards slow fashion, authenticity, and sustainability. There is also a movement for underrepresented communities to claim space. This shift will help more independent designers thrive.

Can you tell us a little bit about your references and inspirations for your garments?

My main medium is clay. My latest collection Dualismo, echoes the Daoist concept of Yin and Yang. Presence of opposite aspects co-existing with one another harmoniously, Always shifting, transforming one into the other like maculine and feminine energy and its fluidity. 

Can you describe your client’s personality in few words?

CONFIDENT, LOUD, FUN, SOPHISTICATED,EDGY

What do you think it’s your best-selling piece?

The best selling and most requested piece is all the earrings from The Mano (honoring gesture) collection. It is also the most meaningful to me, because it is rooted in home and it is an homage to the womxn in my family. The collection is inspired by the blue & white porcelain that my grandmother collected. The earrings are hand-painted with multiple pigments of acrylic blue and topped with a gloss finish. It is a thank you to my mothers and grandmothers for showing me how to be resilient and compassionate.

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your products on online platforms, you think it might be a good showcase for your work and your future?

Yes, I think it is a great idea because it helps my brand gain exposure. 

What does fashion industry needs more to grow up and what can be done better for this?

Although there is a push towards slow fashion and sustainability, the cycle of fast changing fashion trends still exists. Consuming and disposing clothes at a fast rate is still happening. Outsourcing production to developing countries with poor working conditions is still prominent. I recently witnessed a big fashion company steal the work of an independent designer, mass produce their work and sell it for a very inexpensive price. It is sickening and a big business like that should not get away with it. Situations like that are extremely unfair to independent designers. The people who are in the wrong should take accountability for their actions. To move towards change there should be a push towards awareness. The hopeful thing about fashion is its ability to change. Positive change can occur and it is slowly happening, but more need to know about it. Make sustainability a trend, make slow fashion a trend, make small independent businesses a trend. 

What is the long term goal for you as a designer and what is the main mission? 

My long term goal is to leave a legacy as a Filipinx American designer. Growing up, I didn’t have any other Filipino American artists and designers to look up to due to lack of exposure. My main mission is to inspire underrepresented communities to take space and claim their identity. I want more people like me to believe that it is possible for a brown Filipinx womxn to be well known in the fashion industry. 

What are the most interesting social platforms that can help your label? 

Instagram and Tik Tok are the most helpful social platforms for my brand because that’s where I can organically reach more people who will support my business. However, I am keeping an open mind and not limiting myself to just those two.

Can you tell us what is the next project?

For my next project I want to continue doing research and getting in touch with my roots.

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