Muse Monday #5 – Jeweler Linda Kindler Priest

Welcome to my 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 Linda Kindler Priest.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. -Pablo Picasso

Linda Kindler Priest – dragonfly double brooch

Linda Kindler Priest

I am obviously drawn to artists who make one-of-a-kind work. Linda Kindler Priest’s double brooches are instantly recognizable. Nobody else uses that double brooch structure. They are identifiable also for their elegant gold nature imagery as well as their unusually shaped stones.

Hummingbird double brooch by Linda Kindler Priest

Once again, I’m perusing my collection of images from a single artist in search of ideas to move my own work forward. Not that I’m interested in copying in the most distant imaginable version! But it is smart to assess elements of the work that might spark a new direction for my own creations. How are these made? What common themes recur? What makes them unique and different from other jewelry? How do I use that knowledge to amass a repertoire of my own unique elements? Learning from the masters is a long-venerated method for training.

Aspirational Jewelry

Quail earrings by Linda Kindler Priest

Each piece of jewelry – from brooches to earrings – is delicately individual.

Young Lily – Trotter Locket/Brooch by Linda Kindler Priest

Inspired by fauna and flora, the imagery is executed in low relief accented by bright sparkles of stones.

Bee bracelet by Linda Kindler Priest

Typically embracing  luscious gold, occasionally work appears in oxidized sterling silver.

Mayflower brooch by Linda Kindler Priest

Graced with many beautifully details, each piece beckons close inspection. Masterful execution of both metal and stone work, assure that the work is heirloom quality.

bracelet by Linda Kindler Priest

Techniques

The metal technique epitomized in these pieces is the ancient form of repousse.  Finely shaped punches (often made by the artist) and a hammer are used to raise the sculptural design from the back side. Then the metal is flipped over, where the similar technique of chasing is used to refine and add details to the front surface. Every bit of the metal surface is meticulously textured by the artist.

When it comes to matching these miniature sculptures with stones, meaning wins. Color, pattern, and texture are carefully selected and shaped with lapidary techniques. The goal is to integrate the mineral or crystal seamlessly with the metal.  More than just a flash of color, the stones are meant to evoke a feeling. Often there is an environmental commentary subtly at play.

Other details are delicately executed: unusually shaped bezels, tube settings for small accent stones, finely cut foliage or scrollwork.  Each piece is heavily detailed, consuming up to fifty hours of labor.

rose and pearl earrings by Linda Kindler Priest

History

Linda studied at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she still teaches jewelry making. Her signature style is the culmination of  more than thirty years of jewelry craft.  She begins with sketches and often incorporates stones provided by commission clients.

Keeping a grueling schedule of fine craft shows and supplying a handful of top galleries that carry her work, she also collaborates extensively with collectors to craft commission pieces. She begins with sketches and often incorporates stones provided by the clients.

baby egret earrings with their eggs by Linda Kindler Priest

Analysis

So the point of all these Muse Monday studies is to analyze the art that I’m drawn to, to break down designs and techniques, and to devise ways to expand my own toolbox to include key concepts. It’s nice to look at pretty pictures, but I’m really trying to learn something here and develop my own work further. I’m viewing this new year of 2018 as the year that I commit to some very intensive, laborious jewelry designs rather than focusing on more affordable pieces.

Of course I would be drawn to this nature inspired work. What’s distinctive about this particular jewelry? The repousse technique is unusual, rather classical and not often employed. Despite the reference to ancient jewelry, this work is thoroughly modern. There’s a pared down aesthetic to the designs – for example, a bee or bird is totally recognizable, but not completely lifelike.  The rabbit earrings above don’t even have eyes! The size limits details, so just the essence is extracted. Definitely emotion over science.

rabbit earrings by Linda Kindler Priest

I also love that the designs aren’t necessarily centered, but often “break” the edge of piece, giving an usual shape. Negative space rules again. That Mayflower brooch above wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if the flower were simply centered in a regular square. Those rabbit tails bumping out at the corner are very endearing. And the egret chick legs dropping down to clutch their pearl eggs totally make those earrings! Even when the designs don’t break the edge, the edge is cut in an interesting fashion to suit the design. This is opposite to my regular working style where I lay down the rims first, before adding the sculptural components. I need to think about changing that order and how that might shift my thinking. I tend to symmetrical designs (maybe because I’m a Libra?), but the asymmetry of many of these pieces is very intriguing.

Once again, gold really speaks to me. The value of the work is obvious just by that golden glow, without even assessing the work involved. I must, I must, I must just do it. It’s interesting that she’s doing repousse with 14k gold, which is stronger, but she wants to be sure her pieces are strong and wearable.

I love the “brooches in two parts,” although this seems like such a trademark that copying the concept is impossible. But it does return me to the idea of building pieces out of multiple parts, which has come up in previous analyses.

Color is important to this work, but its used to evoke a mood or meaning, which an interesting consideration to explore. I love the fact that the stones are cut to suit the design, with unusual shapes and edges. My lapidary equipment calls to me, and it’s Tucson Gem Show time (in fact I’m there when this post goes live). Perhaps I can look anew at rough stone this time, when hopefully my trip won’t be cut short by the flu. I also like the combination of smaller faceted gems combined with the larger minerals. There is a very painterly look to these designs.

Bee ring by Linda Kindler Priest

Rings…something that I’ve sketched and brainstormed, but not really pursued yet. I don’t have a good vision of where I want them to go. I’ve never been much of a ring person, but they are calling to me recently, so I need to go down this path. This bee ring is amazing to me – simple in some ways, but a total statement piece. I love the sculptural quality of it, the surprise of the crystal, the simple texture on that wide band. How would I extend my techniques to ring making? That’s a big question.

Links

my Linda Kindler Priest jewelry Pinterest board

Linda Kindler Priest website

#lindakindlerpriest

 

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