Bow to the trash queen

Marion Brooks fuses found objects to create jewelry as Mechanica

For just over a year now, artist Marion Brooks has taken to her own Atlanta streets literally to find not only inspiration for her jewelry line, Mechanica Jewelry, but materials. The result of her endeavors makes Mechanica full of metropolitan, edgy, and idiosyncratic pieces made from unconventional resources.

Brooks says while surrounded by fellow creatives and in a phase of uncertainty, she started to consider her own artistic path. This is when she chose to attend her first blacksmithing class. With one click of a button, all of her waitressing money funneled into the hope of a new trade. The ensuing sparks turned her on to metal fabrication, the fascinating process of bending, cutting, and assembling metal. Around this time, Brooks realized her cache of found objects was turning her apartment into an old collectibles museum. "I am just obsessed with tiny things," she says. Instead of heading to the Dumpster, she emptied drawers, weaving her treasure trove into wearable art. Stones scored from friends' road-tripping ventures were made into finger bling. Antique bullets and lightbulbs janked from abandoned buildings found new life in dangling necklaces. Animal teeth got a second chance as body ornaments. Once armed with an artillery of welding and a knack for recontextualizing objects, Brooks turned her serious collecting habit profitable.

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She bases operations in various studios Downtown, posting up often at the Mammal Gallery to create and showcase work, but unearths materials from all over the city. "Everything I get into is kind of sketchy," Brooks says about her excavation process. Although she has never been caught in the act, her body is often left with small battle victory scars. Tips guide many of her hunting trips, often inspiring adventures like free-climbing a six-story building or breaking into antique safes to gather old keys. Close friend and partner in crime, creative Greg Brennan, typically comes along to serve as back-up. Her old favorite hot spot was the Butler Street YMCA, now under construction. Once she scored four truck loads of goods from an old animal testing lab on Emory University's campus, where she paid a $20 bribe to get inside. "A bunch of really cool little things that I sold and made jewelry out of ... like animal bones ... all of this crazy shit," Brooks says, describing the day's venture. Now, the duo's lucky place resides Downtown, too, in the form of a once-grand hotel. There Brooks has exhumed brass locks, retro fish pendants, buttons, lockets, and other gnarly goodies.

Through breaking a few rules — both in Miss Manners and APD's books — Brooks found a way to marry a crummy financial situation and a hobby into a lucrative affair.

Find Mechanica Jewelry on Etsy and on Instagram at @mechanicajewelry.

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