Welcome to my artistic inspiration series. Weekly on Muse Mondays, check in to see what is catching my eye. The goal is to nourish my own artist muse by following wherever she leads with amazement and study, but I’ll gladly share with you. Today’s artist is jeweler Ann Marie Cianciolo, who specializes in sculptural and stacking rings.
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. ~ Zig Ziglar
Ann Marie Cianciolo
Returning back to jewelry artists this week, I’ve chosen the talented Ann Marie Cianciolo, who is known for rings, rings and more rings.
I was first exposed to her work at SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Art) in Chicago a few years ago, where she was showing her sculptural rings. I’ve since noticed her booth mobbed by ring collectors at various high end craft shows.
Going into the new two-artist gallery, Gallery Two, that she shares with sculptor Betsy Youngquist in New Orleans is a tempting experiment. Multiple cases line the room, one filled with rings in dark silver with bright gold details, another filled with rose gold and bright silver or white gold, and even more combinations. A zillion round rings and another zillion square. It’s just too fun to stand there trying on various combinations. I’m partial to the dark-oxidized square rings and had to pry myself away from a stack featuring plenty of gold accents and a luscious rose cut aquamarine.
Rose, white, and yellow gold stacking rings by Ann Marie Cianciolo
Of course, there are also earrings and necklaces to coordinate or if you aren’t a ring collector. The work is detailed but not too refined, obviously precious with its glints of gold or stones, humorous and fun!
Rings are difficult for makers because they must be sized to fit. Square rings in particular are unusual and tricky to fabricate. My best guess is that these are carved in wax to the size ordered and then cast. However, Ann Marie says on her website that they are fabricated, with the birds and legs cast. I can’t say for sure that the rings themselves are cast, but it would seem to be a fast way to produce these forms. The artist has accumulated a repertoire of forms and uses different combinations of those elements to offer many coordinating rings. Add on the collection aspect, and each wearer is insured a one-of-a-kind statement.
As opposed to the more commercial jewelry houses, artist designers tend to leave the obvious mark of their hand. These rings are far from perfectly round or square, with ripples and ridges lending charming imperfection. Decorative details are added with a loose hand: dots, swirls, stones set asymmetrically to stagger when stacked, as well as flowers and birds.
For the sculpture rings, the artist combines elements to tell a story. These are always really special, with a quirky theme and a punny name, as well as special mountings.
Ann Marie Cianciolo hasn’t always focused on rings. However, the sculptural quality of her work, as well as the humor seem to go far back. The earliest work I could find took the form of sculptural brooches.
Doing fine craft fairs since 1998 from her home base in Milwaukee, Ann Marie has amassed many awards for her innovative work. Here’s a photo of her booth last year at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival – look at the legs on those cases!!
As a maker, I strive to analyze why I’m drawn to certain art and how it might help me move my own work forward. So, I’ve searched through the collections of Ann Marie Cianciolo’s images, seeking enlightenment.
Why am I so drawn to this jewelry? I love the sculptural quality of it. With my recent experiments in ceramic sculpture, I’ve been searching for ways to bring that sculptural quality more into my jewelry as well. These sculpture rings show that it can be done. Once again, I’m drawn to presentation – those stands allow the rings to function as sculpture even when they aren’t being worn. I must give more thought to how to present my work off body.
The way that Ann Marie works is very similar to mine, in that she has an array of elements that she puts together in endless combinations to generate a cohesive body of work. She is using more range of color with the multiple colors of gold in her work. That gives her a lot more range. I’ve played a little bit with rose, green and yellow gold, and I need to go back to that for some more experiments.
Having never been drawn to rings in the past, and fearing the sizing issues when selling them, I’m really drawn to these. I’ve been pinning more and more rings, so the universe is sending me a message to explore this direction. After a week long intensive with wax-carving maestro, Kate Wolf, several years ago, I have yet to put those skills to real use. With the acquisition of some used casting equipment recently, I’m ready to sit down and experiment with wax as another way to work sculpturally. I’ve been having trouble envisioning my particular elements translating into rings, but I think I just have to go there. A new ring mandrel bench pin came to my studio this week, so maybe the time has come.
My Ann Marie Cianciolo Pinterest Board
Ann Marie Cianciolo website
Gallery Two website
Gallery Two on Instagram