Timeless elegance, like a Tiffany creation handed down from one generation to the next, guides jeweler Mat Garriott's work. Inspired by old-fashioned techniques, the native Bendite uses vintage hand tools rather than machines to craft his unique pieces, whether custom or commercial.
Recovering from the life-changing experience of testicular cancer and exhaustion from chemo about five years ago, Garriott kept his mind occupied surfing the Internet. Serendipitously, a book on jewelry making "struck a chord," he says.
In a risky move, Garriott quit a stressful post as a manager in a major corporation.
"I needed a dramatic change and went for it," he says, deciding to become a jeweler.
Garriott's work reflects his view of Einstein, one of his heroes, whom he regarded as an "antenna for the universe." Nature is Garriott's muse. He uses only sustainable materials from around the world...sterling silver, argentum silver, copper and brass. Artfully combined, sometimes, with unusual stones, Garriott hopes to spark "your own inner vagabond to explore places you've never been."
"I don't chase fads," he explained. "Rather, I'm inspired by everything around me... when I'm designing, one piece sometimes morphs into another."
Garriott had no training in the arts (he studied chemical engineering at Oregon State University), but loved working with his hands. In his younger days, he explored the Cascades, paddled the Deschutes River, worked construction and was a hunting guide in western Montana.
Today, you'll find Garriott at his workshop in La Pine and at the Bright Place Gallery, the artists' cooperative in Bend. He exhibits in Portland and elsewhere as well, including at the iconic Rebel Junk Markets, ranked as one of the country's top traveling vintage markets. Items are also available through Vagabond Silver's online Square Store.