Martha’s Vineyard Times, 12/5/2011

…Cynthia McGrath’s large and varied line, Original Cyn, runs from pieces made from Lego and dominoes to painted and jeweled deer and snake vertebrae. Ms. McGrath is a serious scavenger who uses maps to discover old landfills and then researches her finds as much as possible. Her stunning display of jewelry crafted from unaltered sea glass also includes descriptions of the type and vintage of the finds. “I use as much found and recycled materials as possible,” she said. She also has a fondness for “anything kooky, fun and affordable,” i.e. a necklace made from plastic lemon and lime slices. See full article

Vineyard Style Fall 2011

Vineyard Style Fall 2011 "Made on Island"

"Original Cyn: Tempting Treasures", page 18 in the Fall 2011 Vineyard Style Magazine

Martha’s Vineyard Magazine…

Original Cyn ~ Featured in the Vineyard Gazette

Beaded Necklaces to Steam Punk , What a Long, Creative Trip It’s Been

Cynthia McGrath at the Featherstone flea market.

Cynthia McGrath has always followed her heart — and at one point, the Grateful Dead. “I had started beading before college as a hobby,” Mrs. McGrath recalled in a telephone interview. “It was a way to make enough money follow the Dead around. That’s how it started in the very, very beginning. I was a little hippie and I would make these beaded necklaces I had made on a piece of velvet cloth. People would come and buy my stuff and then later on I’d get to see them dancing, wearing my stuff. It was nice to see them immediately happy and dancing, wearing something I’d made. I’ve always loved showing my pieces to people because some of the things I make are made out of really unusual materials. I just love to get a conversation going. I work with snake bones — their entire vertebrae — I’ll make a necklace out of it or bracelets.”

A few years later, her heart lead her to Martha’s Vineyard. “I didn’t know a soul. But I just knew I felt good there. So I just went and I sat at a pay phone with a bunch of change. The apartment ended up being a $350 fully furnished apartment off County Road; the job was at the Black Dog folding T-shirts.

Eventually Mrs. McGrath started working at Beadworks in Vineyard Haven. In the summer of 1994, while she was working at the bead shop, she sold her original pieces off a pushcart at Five Corners. “Can you imagine doing that now?” she said. “My friend Bob McGee — I met the greatest people — owned that little patch next to the Golden Dragon. He got this pushcart and said, ‘Why don’t you sell what you make here, and I’ll take a percentage.’ But he never did do that. But, yeah, people stopped! If I recall, I had a fanny pack at the time.”

Mrs. McGrath and her husband now live outside of Boston, “but I still call the Vineyard home,” she said. “I got my start on the Vineyard. When I first sold at the Artisans Fair, I was one of nine people. Now it’s over 120, I think. Anyway, I think we’ll eventually move back. We do keep a place year-round. When that ferry pulls in I’m like, okay, I’m home. All my friends are here.”

Mrs. McGrath’s jewelry — which she sells under the moniker Original Cyn — is an inspired, modern, and sea-reverent collection for women. While the artist has a strong following, the decline in the economy has not been kind to her livelihood. And true to her nature, she turned the problem into an artistic endeavor. “Just this winter I couldn’t afford the expensive beads, all the materials,” she said. “I couldn’t go to the shows, nothing. So I started digging through my husband’s toolbox for supplies. I found all these nuts and washers and springs, and I started to make jewelry out of whatever I could find.” That experiment gave birth to her tough and chic collection dubbed Steam Punk.

Original cyn collection includes sea-reverent pieces.

“I can make jewelry out of anything,” she said. “I love dismantling it, and I love recycling it, giving new life. People give me things all the time to work with — buttons, pins, dominoes. You have no idea!

“I’m just always changing, which is why I think I have a nice following on the Vineyard. Because when I come back I have something completely new and fresh for them to look at. If you look at my collection in July, when you come back in August it will be completely different.”

She continued: “I want people to wear things that will create conversation. I want women to talk to each other more. So, yes, in a way, conversation pieces. I want them to be attention-getting. I don’t want people to just shuffle around. I want them to talk to each other. I make everything one of a kind because I want each woman to feel unique. I do feel every piece is made for someone. It shows when someone tries something on. I’ll be like, that’s not it, and I’ll say, why don’t you try this one? And then as soon as I see her face light up I know. I set a price but then I make it work for them to have it. I can be a real softie.”

She will be selling at the Artisans Fair all summer. “I give a lot of stuff away. Sometimes I forget it’s a business transaction,” she said.

“I just love working and I never stop.”

Ms. McGrath at a Grateful Dead concert in 1991.

Mrs. McGrath, who beat cancer two years ago, said she sees everything brighter now than she used to. “I had a really bad patch where everything went wrong. Three things in a row, as they say. I got cancer, my son was diagnosed with autism, and my business, my entire bank account got wiped out by one of those Nigerian scams. They took everything. I had to start from scratch. In many ways, I started my life over. Proved myself all over again.

“But I’ve fallen in love with life again. I see the birds, the colors, the sky, so much brighter. With my jewelry, I want women to recognize how incredibly strong they are, how unique. Treat yourself. Life is short.”