Broken gold watches, old metallic shoe clips, crushed jewelry and other bits and pieces cover the trays on Meg Truesdell’s work table.
“I work best in total chaos,” Meg says. “I just spread everything out.”
Most of the items she found by rummaging through estate sales and thrift shops, Meg explains as she sorts through the objects, waiting to open the doors of her shop, located in the heart of Granger.
“What I’m always looking for is the jars and bags of broken stuff,” she says. “I don’t want the good stuff, but the broken things that I won’t feel guilty about tearing apart and putting together in a different way.”
Meg is a jewelry maker who repurposes and upcycles old materials to create pendants, necklaces and other accessories at her Granger store and workshop, Treasureology. She has had this space for about a year and a half. Prior to that, she worked from home.
She refers to her artistic style as “steampunk,” because the jewelry she makes often consists of gears, watch pieces and “old, funky industrial things.”
Now that the items are on her table, she combs through them to figure out which will fuse together well and create a brand new accessory or decoration.
Treasureology is divided into two sections by a collection of large, eclectic items such as an old desk and a white tree branch that, stacked against each other, create a wall. The front section is Meg’s store, where she sells her creations. Upon entering, a customer may feel as if they are on a different planet. There are colorful, patterned kerchiefs and veils draped over desks, counters and shelves. A curtain of sheets functions as the entrance between the store and the workshop in the back. As disorganized as the space may seem, it is the ideal setup for Meg.
“Walking into this space makes me want to create stuff,” she says. “When I was at home trying to create, it was hard. It wasn’t my dedicated creative space, so it didn’t put me in the right frame of mind.”
The workshop serves a dual purpose: where Meg creates and where she teaches most of her jewelry making classes. On Mondays, teaching is her main responsibility. Tuesdays are reserved for making the jewelry for her wholesale clients, and every Wednesday through Saturday the store is open for customers.
“I don’t get a ton of foot traffic here, which is kind of why it’s the perfect location for me,” she explains. “People come in but not constantly, so I can still work even when I’m open.”
Meg has made jewelry for as long as she can remember. When she was 3 years old, she made cat toys out of her grandma’s buttons. Next, she progressed to stringing beads, which she found “soothing.” Then, as a young adult, she gained invaluable experience as the director of sales at an art gallery in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Part of my job was helping local artists learn how to market their art,” Meg says.
That is when she realized that it might be possible for her to make a career out of her jewelry. She began to make custom necklaces for weddings. Meg offered half a dozen designs, but after a few years, putting pearls and crystals on a string became mundane. She wanted to use her creativity instead.
Eventually, she settled on creating the pendants that she’s working on now. To do this, she rips out the innards of old pocket watches and inserts new gears and other shiny items. She then preserves the new design with a thick coat of resin that she hardens under an ultraviolet light. The watch doesn’t function — it has been given a new purpose: to look unique and interesting.
“There’s a lot of jewelry out there and it’s really hard to compete,” Meg says. “By using unusual, one-of-a-kind materials, I am able to make things that no one else can. Even the wholesale products I make, each one has its own unique spin because I hate repeating myself. When you walk into my store, nearly everything that you put your hands on is a one-of-a-kind item.”
Additionally, every piece of jewelry sold at Treasureology is made by Meg, besides of one small fraction of the store.
“I make all of the jewelry that I sell except one little section,” she says, gesturing to a sign on the wall that reads ‘Kate’s creations.’ “This is my 10-year-old’s spot. She’s kind of apprenticing under me. She’s my little shadow because she likes everything I do.”
Kate often hides in the very back of Treasureology while her mom makes jewelry in her workshop. There, Kate creates her own jewelry. Both she and her older sister have their own rooms in the back, but they also help out with the store when they can.
In fact, almost every member of Meg’s family has a hand in the day-to-day operations at Treasureology. Her mother helps her collect items from estate and garage sales, her husband does the books, her father helps fix pieces of furniture and her mother-in-law “shop sits.”
“I couldn’t do this alone,” Meg says. “There’s no way.”
Meg believes that small boutique retail stores like hers are the future of in-person shopping. She sees more and more people desiring a unique shopping experience like the one she offers because most basic and essential items can be purchased online.
“The whole concept here is repurposing things that were once considered treasures,” Meg says. “Different cultures have different ideas about what is important to them and what they pass along from generation to generation. With us, it’s jewelry and furniture and other things our parents and grandparents had, but those things are often thrown away or hidden. So, the little bit that I can do to bring back things found in someone’s garage makes me really happy.”
It is now time to open. Meg gets up from her work table, unlocks the front door and sets up an “open” sign. Then, she sits back down at the table — seeing Meg build her one-of-a-kind creations is part of the shopping experience customers are looking for.
Photos by Michelle Grady