BY PATTI SMITH PHOTOS BY ERIC MARCUS
Victoria Williams was mortified when she saw her daughter drilling a hole through a perfect, beautiful seashell she found on the beach. “At first I thought, ‘You’re ruining it!’ Then, when I saw what she was doing, there was a special realization that she sees it much differently,” Victoria marvels. Inspired by that seashell, Morgan created a stunning necklace that brought a sense of awe and understanding to her mom.
Morgan is an old soul with a contemporary spirit. The 14-year-old appreciates a simple and natural freshwater pearl the same way she appreciates a decades-old piece of jewelry made of glass. “She’ll find broken pieces or something that looks a little tarnished, and she’ll clean it up and give it a new life. It is really neat to see,” her mother beams.
Morgan started making jewelry for herself several years ago as a hobby. Her family and friends would compliment the pieces she was wearing and ask her where she got them. “I would tell them I made it, and they would ask me if I could make them one, too,” Morgan recalls. Before the last school year ended, she made six matching necklaces and gave them to friends as graduation presents.
Morgan’s creations are sophisticated and edgy—much like their creator. In a recent creation, she paired pink freshwater pearls with metal spikes. Morgan has a contemporary style of her own. She prefers professional dress, high heels, and bold accessories to T-shirts and jeans. Her jewelry is a reflection of who she is. “I really love how it shows my style and what I personally like to pair and wear. It’s just fun,” Morgan says, but her pieces are also very detailed and made with precision. When creating a necklace with pieces to attach, for example, she must count each chain link to make sure the added pieces hang evenly.
Morgan is even now seeing commercial interest in her jewelry. Her creations caught the attention of Leah Matthews, owner of Star Gallery in Historic St. Andrews, who put several of Morgan’s pieces on display in her store. Morgan creates jewelry that features glass, metal, beads, and natural materials such as shells, coral, and pearls.
Morgan’s artistry began to come out when she was a toddler making crafts with her grandmother, Myra Frady. The two would tear paper and glue the pieces to make mosaic images. They also spent time painting and drawing. When Morgan was about five-years-old, Myra started taking her to antique shops where they would find bags of old jewelry in various condition. Working with these pieces gave Morgan a love for taking something old and making it new. Morgan loves turquoise, aquamarine, and moonstone. She wants to begin working with precious stones next. She makes pieces at home and also in an office/workshop at VBA Design, Inc., her mother’s architecture firm in Panama City. Morgan is grateful for the support she receives from her family, which includes her father, Todd, and her sister, Ashtyn age 10.
“Morgan encourages me as much as I encourage her. It’s wonderful to have someone you care about so deeply care so much about who you are as a person and not just who you are in their life. She can see past the family tie,” Myra says. “She’s very mature in her approach to art, and we have a special relationship in that regard.”
Myra Frady believes her role in her granddaughter’s life is to provide an opportunity for Morgan to learn. Myra, who is dean for resource planning and chief financial officer at Emory University/Oxford College in Atlanta, is all about education. If Morgan is interested in a particular medium, Myra will find a gallery or exhibit that features it so Morgan can see firsthand how that craft is developed. “Her opportunities are unlimited, and I hope they remain that way,” Myra says.
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