text & photography by hunter Armistead
Capturing the Creative Culture of Our City
Silversmith, Author, and Pig Whisperer
Of Pigs and Silver Spoons
“I’m jumping in with all four feet” was Nashville native Helen Bransford’s answer to her plans for resuming silversmithing after her daughter’s wedding this month.
“Whenever I meet an animal, I talk to it just like a friend,” says Bransford. “I’m basically feral, and probably was an animal last time.”
Bransford’s love of pigs is perhaps greater than her love of other animals. It all began in 1997, when she sent a pot-bellied piglet (dressed in a bridal veil) to a friend whose wife had left him. He promptly returned it. Bransford fell in love with its intelligent eyes, and the pig became a member of her family.
Bransford is the GOAT of animal caregivers. The pig, Forkie, was a ripe 21 on her passing. Living with Bransford in secret for years in the Carlisle Hotel in New York (cloaked for her walks in a dog suit) probably prolonged the pig’s longevity.
In his story for Esquire, “Sleeping with Pigs,” ex-husband and noted author Jay McInerney speaks fondly of a certain fringed custom ramp to their bed. Then there was a popular raccoon café on her front porch for years.
Her marriage to a literary figure was no accident. An author herself (Welcome to Your Facelift), Bransford has contributed to Vogue and wields a wickedly wonderful vocabulary, often weaving her love of words into her silver pieces. Favorites from her current crop are teaspoons engraved with such memes as “Mental Vegan,” “Serial Monogamist,” and her favorite, “Eat Drink and Remarry.”
Along with the spoons, inspired silver pieces such as a hawk-skull pendant and earrings, tortoiseshell belts, wishbones, and Maltese crosses look like they belong at Barneys New York. In fact, Bransford’s creations were at a coveted counter there for years.
Finishing our interview, Bransford walked outdoors with a vast tray of vegetables for her bevy of backyard friends. “Life’s better with critters to care for,” she smiled as she walked towards the calls of the wild.
Bransford is thrilled to have her work here in Nashville at the Belle Meade Shoppes.