Today is the second installment of my new inspiration series. I don’t promise that all will be jewelry artists, as any art can inspire. Weekly on Muse Mondays, check in to see what is catching my eye. The goal is to nourish my own muse by following wherever she leads with amazement and study, but I’ll gladly share with you. Today’s artist is jeweler Judy Geib.
You can’t wait for inspiration.
You have to go after it with a club. -Jack London
Another jeweler whose work sings for my muse is the prolific Judy Geib. Her studio creates luxury jewelry featuring superlative materials and intensivelabor. Many of her designs feature medallions grouped together, often with kaleidoscopic arrays of filigree and/or gemstones to give a delicate sense of movement. They are unabashedly handmade, with a reverence for imperfections, but meticulous craftmanship.
As before, I sat down this week to do a bit more research and study of this artist. And more than just a collection of pretty images (which is plenty inspirational, but fits better on a Pinterest board), I wanted to do a little analysis. Why am I attracted? How do I characterize her work overall? What techniques does she use? How has the work evolved? What can I learn here that can guide me on my own creative journey?
Based in Brooklyn, Judy Geib launched her line in 2002 when the buyers at Barneys New York perused her 12-piece collection after a chance encounter while wearing a pair of her own handmade earrings. Trained as a graphic designer, she found her calling in jewelry after a 15-year career working with an architect.
Part of the appeal of her work is her technique, which is very graphic and spontaneous. Her graphic artist background is evident in the pages of sketches she doodles to determine a design. Then the work begins, mostly now in luscious high karat gold. Every scrap is carefully recycled, melted in a crucible, poured into an ingot mold and then hammered and rolled and drawn for the needs of the design. Many of the designs are based on “squashes,” melted balls of gold hammered flat and then assembled into flowers. The freeform designs are a clear contrast with the commercial perfection of typical high end jewelry, unabashedly handmade and one-of-a-kind. Despite the imperfections in the design, the craftsmanship itself is impeccable (she does have a goldsmith assistant for tricky work), reinforcing the deliberateness of the doodle designs. Stones, similarly, are individually shaped in her studio, not matched, but coordinated.
Her trademark flattened wire flower earrings are wonderful for their balanced asymmetry.
This more structured necklace is based on glyphs from the Book of Kells, and took months to make.
For an idea of the meticulous construction techniques, watch this video of the Coursage Sauvage.
And if the jewelry itself isn’t enough of an amazement, consider the custom-made packaging!
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 Judy Geib’s images, seeking enlightenment.
Why am I so drawn to this jewelry? The originality, quality and sheer beauty of the work call to me. I love the calligraphic line, the rhythm, and movement of the work. Again, the component process reminds me of my own work, only taken to a much higher level. How would my work look if I repeated my smaller elements and grouped them together into larger creations? Again, there’s a sense that I need to “go for it.”
I’m also drawn, again, to the use of gold. I admit fearing this expensive material. I’ve made small components in gold and used them on silver jewelry, without major malady. I have 18k and 22k sheet and wire awaiting in the studio, but I have yet to commit. Maybe it’s time to push forward, reassured by the notion that all scraps can be melted down and hammered or rolled for reuse. It might actually be easier to think of keeping a piece all gold than to combine it with silver, which is harder to separate in case of error.
And finally – the packaging. This is something that I’ve long considered. Beyond a box for safe storage, I love the idea of a decorative display where the jewelry forms an integral part of a larger sculpture. I need to pursue that more aggressively. Perhaps a ceramic sculpture will hold a special piece soon?
My Judy Geib Pinterest board
Judy Geib website (only goes up to 2012)
Judy Geib Instagram
Judy Geib Book of Kells inspired glyph necklace video Wise-Sweet-Wild-Silly
Judy Geib Corsage Savage video
Judy Geib Neo-Geo necklace video
Judy Geib Plateau Vivant video