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MASKING A SYMBOL

MASKING A SYMBOL

 As a jewelry artist, and the urging of mask wearing during this pandemic have lead me to explore the history of masks and how I might visually incorporate a mask into my metal smithing.

 Masks have had their influence on Modern art movements, with artist like Pablo Picasso and Matisse who found masks of Western Oceania as inspiration. I too, am hoping to express our human spirit just like the first Americans who carved emblems of themselves and their surroundings into totem poles and masks.

 While some masks and masked ceremonies have died out over the years, other cultures have held onto their traditions. The Venetian Carnival Masks come to mind as well as the Mexican Day of the Dead. In general masks tend to represent spirits or beings important to the ritual in which the mask is used.

 My inspiration was the Covad virus. To create a mask that was a universal icon, symbolizing respect for others. A mask without any associated religious or social customs. A mask that would subtly promote respect others and acknowledge our connected universe. I believe a mask can be a transformative experience, just look  at Halloween. 

 Masks have been an important cultural experience. Like artists before me, I am reacting to a social event. I have created a subtle mask-like image that can be worn as pendant and or as earrings and can be ordered in silver or gold. Let's embrace the mask, making it an important part in our universal fight to end this virus. 

 

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Rhythmic Patterns of Nature

Rhythmic Patterns of Nature

     Nature has surrounded my being for as long as I can remember. What prompted me to create jewelry with such fluid patterns? I guess it would be when as a young boy I discovered the craft of making Dandelion jewelry. Hours were spent collecting the soft buttery flowers with their milky stems and fashioning them into chokers, bracelets and sticky rings.

     Perhaps that experience laid dormant until adult hood. On a whim I responded to a part time evening class at Parsons School of Art in New York. The first torch lighting was such an awaking. The young boy who knew no boundaries weaving flowers suddenly found an old passion;ic  jewelry making. The creative energy I responded to years ago holds true for me now as I sketch dynamic patterns and mythical creatures bringing them to life in metal and gemstones.  

     A love of Nature and the animal world along with a sense of connection remain a driving force for my jewelry today. There is a sacred magic and myth for me that emerges from the sketch to the precious metal and the final polished jewelry art.

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TWIST 'n SHOUT!

TWIST 'n SHOUT!

That’s what it’s all about! Creating jump rings small enough for the Dragon Bracelet was one of my first challenges. For the jump rings, I chose 14kt white gold wire for its added strength. To create the very small jump rings, I began by twisting the white gold wire around a T-pin. A somewhat slow process that delivered perfect same size jump rings. With all the twisting and shouting, I now was ready to begin soldering 3 tiny rings onto each Dragon link.

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What came First, the Dragon or the Egg?

What came First, the Dragon or the Egg?

With my interest in the animal myths and the animal kingdom, it should not surprise anyone that I love a good fantasy. From time to time, I depart from my morphed animal images to a simple animal depiction. I had a bracelet idea floating in my head while, like many Americans, I was watching Game of Thrones. Rather than depict a mythical dragon complete with wings, scales and claws, I wanted to attempt a more modern, abstract dragon. Often I find my drawings take on a life of their own when I begin carving my drawing into wax. Since there is such a variety in what is considered a “dragon” I felt a certain freedom to create the two headed magical creature seen in the drawing and photo above.

  My biggest challenge was the connection of each two headed dragon link. Originally, I drew a basic link to link for each connection, but once I began soldering each sterling link, I felt the bracelet lacked interest. Pushing myself to find a more interesting connection I, after chatting with another artist I came up with what I think is a perfect solution. Between each link will be a very small egg like connection that will somewhat cover the jump rings used to connect the links. The small dome shapes reminded me of the dragon eggs. I am excited to rework the linkage using 14kt white gold jump rings for added strength.

  To complete the look, I am planning on setting 5 red garnet cabochons between each dragon link representing the hot, fierce fire-breathing dragon I could carve.

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BIRTHSTONES TODAY

BIRTHSTONES TODAY

 With the AGTA Gem Show in full swing this week, I thought I would highlight gemstones in reference to birthstone. Occasionally, I run across a potential client asking me about what the correct birthstone for their birth month is. “Why are their two or three different stones for my month? I was told there is a certain stone is designated for each month. Is it not my stone and the one I should use to celebrate my birth into this world?”

 The concept of 12 birthstones seems to date back to Aaron, the high priest of the Israelites and brother to Moses. On his ceremonial breastplate were 12 gemstones, each one representing a tribe of Israel. Josephus, a Jewish historian, is responsible for connecting those stones to the 12 months of the year and the zodiac signs, thus the concept of birthstones.

 It is interesting to note that many cultures have kept different lists of traditional birthstones, giving rise to a vast range of birthstone options. Some months, such as October and December list two different stones for their particular month.

 With the many gemstone options available today, I suggest you look at a recommended “birthstone” for your birth month, keeping in mind the history behind the list of “appropriate” stones. If you feel a relationship to a gemstone, regardless of the recommended stone, then I say go for it. Your choice is personal, or should be regardless of a given list. 

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Marie Antoinette's Pearl Pendant

Marie Antoinette's Pearl Pendant

I pulled this article by Chloe Foussianes because of the amazing sale of Marie Antoinette's pendant. Accoring to Chloe, Sotheby's brought a few of the French queen's jewels to the auction block last November. I found it interesting not only because its historical reference, but also the amazing bidding war that brought in the huge price of $36 million dollars! Nothing would have made the queen happier.

The pendant more than tripled the previous world auction record for a pearl, which was held by a necklace that once belonged to Elizabeth Taylor

All of the French queen's jewels would likely be lost to history, were she not able to smuggle them to her family in Austria before she attempted to flee France. Indeed, in the words of Le Vian CEO Eddie LeVian, "This is about far more than the gems themselves: Marie Antoinette’s jewelry is inextricably linked to the cause of the French Revolution."

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SPRING INTO COLOR

SPRING INTO COLOR

Chrysoprase was known to be a favorite of Alexander the Great. Perhaps, because of it’s delightful green apple color and rumors promoting love, compassion, joy and self-confidence—traits, I’m sure, desired by all conquerors.

Chrysoprase is composed of crystals so fine, they are not able to been seen by the naked eye, unlike amethyst, citrine and other quartz gemstones. Chrysoprase is the most valuable of the Chalcedony family of gemstones and was often mistaken to be emeralds by ancient jewelers. Today we see Chrysoprase commonly used in fine jewelry. I used it in the Crane earring above, creating a delightful splash of color and movement.

This beautiful stone is on the list of birthstones both for May and June and those of us who aspire to conquer the world.

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TAKE HEART, IT'S A NEW YEAR!

TAKE HEART, IT'S A NEW YEAR!

Garnet continues as a popular gemstone today. It serves as a birthstone for the month of January. Most people will think of a red gemstone when they hear the name "garnet" because they are not aware that garnet occurs in a variety of colors. However, gem-quality garnets occur in every color - with red being the most common and blue garnets being especially rare.

That's excellent news if you're in the market for this January birthstone. Those of you who have followed me over the years know I am big on transformation. This month’s birthstone fits with my thinking. While in the ground, heat and pressure of metamorphism breaks the chemical bonds and cause minerals to recrystallize into structures that stabilize under the temperature pressure and environment. Garnets start as tiny grains and slowly over time as the metamorphism progresses, they begin to include the surrounding rock materials. How cool is that? Even rocks have the power to change.

Garnet has been used as a gemstone for over 5000 years. It has been found in the jewelry of many Egyptian burials and was the most popular gemstone of Ancient Rome. Not to be outdone by cultures past, I chose the traditional red Garnet associated with this gemstone. I suspended a carved garnet heart from the mouth of a small dragon stickpin I created. Even Dragons can change and have a heart, after all it is a new year!

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49-Carat ‘Whitney Flame Topaz’ at the Smithsonian Museum

49-Carat ‘Whitney Flame Topaz’ at the Smithsonian Museum

A gem you really have to see to believe it. The color and beauty of this gemstone is astounding, making it a gem that is probably one of the finest in the world. It is truly one of Mother Earth’s treasures. Unearthed from the topaz mines in Ouro Preto in Brazil where 1 to 2 percent of all imperial topaz are of gem quality making this truly a special gemstone. It has a rich vivid red color. Traces of chromium were imbedded in the topaz crystal as it grew in the earth resulting in its unusual intense red color.

The museum was fortunate enough to acquire this beautiful Imperial 48.86-carat red “Whitney Flame Topaz,” from philanthropist Coralyn Wright Whitney who had owned this gorgeous gem for decades.  

If you get the chance do take a trip to the Washington DC Smithsonian Museum and treat yourself to this beautiful work by Mother Nature.

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A CELEBRATION

A CELEBRATION

Rather than talking about a particular jewelry trend in this blog, I am reminded of the seasonal changes taking place now that the end of October is fast approaching. The first week of November has always been a time of festivals and celebrations marking the end of the harvest and beginning of winter. The end of harvest marked the end of the year and also became the time many cultures honored loved ones who passed on. This time period has taken on different names with different religions and cultures, but basically is a time set aside for honoring the dead.

Aside from the most famous ritual, Halloween, begun with the Celtic Culture, the Day of the Dead has become equally famous throughout Mexico and Latin America.

Day of the Dead, Oct 28ththrough Nov1st is a time where family members decorate an altar with flowers, food and photos of their lost relatives. The celebration of this festival tends to believe death is something that should be celebrated and not to be afraid of. In general, this is a festive time designed with spiritual meaning as well as the playful aesthetic of sugar skulls and dancing skeletons. It’s a time where the indigenous communities and beliefs are honored and respected as well as a time for a celebration that anyone can participate. This is truly a global holiday.

Also interesting to note the colors associated with the Day of the Dead:  Purple signifies pain, suffering, grief and mourning, Pink signifies Celebration, White, Purity and Hope, Orange, the Sun and Red, the Blood of Life and Yellow represents Marigolds who's petals are used to mark the pathway to the family altar.

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