Once upon a time, when a girl name Amanda Wynne Egan was just two-years-old, she visited her grandmother’s home on old Native American grounds in Kennett Township, Pennsylvania and transformed into a lady with 2.5″ faux diamond earrings. However, Egan’s curiosity led her to accidentally swallow one of the pairs and getting a backslap that saved her life. Since then, Egan grew up to become the mastermind behind Vintage Faerie, an homage to beautiful heirlooms and those mischievous, whimsical creatures that embody beloved tales ending in happily ever afters. Although she may seem like any other designer cashing in on the fashion phenomenon known as “vintage,” her journey in preserving history through mixed media artwork has captivated shoppers from all over the world.
“I always had a serious interest in jewelry-an addiction is more like it,” she explains. Growing up in West Chester, Pennsylvania, commonly known as “horse country,” 8-year-old Egan and her friends attempted to outdo each other’s talent in creating macramé bracelets. Nevertheless, Egan had a greater edge, thanks to her father’s PhD in Psychometrics from the University of Pennsylvania. “My father was always involved in technology and would bring me computer wire in really cool colors and patterns, thinking I could do something creative with it,” she said. Wanting to show off her creativity, she began selling her home-made bracelets to tourist for $1 in local boutiques by her family’s summer house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. In 1994, she left behind wires and pliers for charcoals and pastels in Carnegie Mellon University, where Egan studied Fine Arts and Business. After dropping out in 1996 to pursue her childhood passion, Egan made an astonishing discovery that would forever change her destiny.
In winter 2000, the 25-year-old Egan explored her parent’s 19th century farmhouse and found old letters, abandoned jewelry and World War II postcards-a few of them with faeries. “I adored the old postcards and looked for a way to display them, but simple framing was not enough,” she explained. “Really, what I wanted to do was wear my favorite postcards, but wasn’t sure how.” After many trials and errors, she skillfully crafted silver charms with antique photos of blushing cherubs and dancing faeries with delicate monarch wings. “Through word of mouth and some retail sales, my little business began to grow. Eventually I realized that I needed a business name. I thought that I would honor all things forgotten to and the original faerie postcards that I came to love so much.” On Valentines Day in 2004, Vintage Faerie entered the World Wide Web.
With today’s hunger for all things original, Egan uses a combination of modern technology and old-world handcrafting to preserve memories of past eras. “I have hundreds of actual documents, a few from the 1800s. I rarely use an actual document from any era, unless it was in a severely damaged state,” she says. “What I tend to do is make high-quality scans and prints of cherished antique documents. ” First, Egan finds numerous postcards from estate sales, flea markets, auctions and European retailers. She then cuts glass by hand according to the photograph’s size. Next, she melts silver metal to create smooth, thick frames, finally adding sterling bails to wear each charm as a necklace or bracelet. The photos range from nude Venuses with cascading russet locks, to giggling Victorian children blowing kisses towards the camera. “Our focus is to create items that are instant heirlooms to be shared. I
believe this is special because not only is everything made by hand, but the finished piece speaks volumes of who the intended wearer is. This is a fabulous way to treasure someone for generations to come-insight, if you will, into someone’s heart and soul.”