Category Archives: Muse Monday

Muse Monday #6 – Fiber Artist Chris Roberts-Antieau

Welcome to my artistic nspiration 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 inspiration is from fiber artist, Chris Roberts Antieau.

As the first non-jeweler in my inspiration series, you might be wondering how I expect to find ideas from such a different medium. My personal art history includes fiber, so I follow a number of artists in that field. Sometimes, the overlap between fields as disparate as hard metal and soft fiber can yield some interesting insights. Whenever I find myself standing in front of a piece in awe, I know there’s something to learn.

It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to. – Jean-Luc Godard

Chris Roberts-Antieau – Albino

Chris Roberts-Antieau

My first exposure to the work of Chris Roberts-Antieau was during her exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore (during a field trip with artist friends after my exhausting participation in the ACC Wholesale Show that year). The above Albino piece literally stopped me in my tracks. I participated in the art quilt world for many years (and have artwork in museum collections across the country from those efforts), but I’d never heard of this artist! Who was she? Where did she live and work?

Detail from Albino by Chris Roberts-Antieau

True, these aren’t strictly quilts. They look more like fabric and thread paintings, totally flat with no batting loft, carefully framed and protected with glass. But the use of fabric and thread and a sewing machine to “draw” was totally familiar to me, and these pieces were just jaw-dropping in their detail and complexity.

Ascension – Chris Roberts-Antieau

Folk Art

The AVAM defines visionary artwork to be “produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.” More typically, the art world calls this folk art.

Table Manners by Chris Roberts-Antieau

When I got home and researched Chris Roberts-Antieau’s work, I found that I DID recognize her older work, which is more folk art. These works felt more akin to the other work at AVAM, and were probably responsible for the exhibition there.

Count Your Blessings by Chris Roberts-Antieau

The colors on those earlier designs are bright and cheery. The human faces are folksy and usually seen in profile. The themes have a sense of whimsy and humor.

 

Antieau Gallery New Orleans

Galleries

Interestingly enough, despite the labor-intensive nature of the fiber work, the pieces are mostly reproduced to order. Only a few of the biggest and most complex works seem to be one of a kind. Although the artist resides in Michigan, she owns two galleries in New Orleans (on Royal Street and on Magazine Street) for marketing her work. Unsurprisingly, there is a series called The Blues that offers folksy portraits of legendary musicians to NOLA tourists. And there is a new gallery now in Santa Fe, which prompts me to wonder about a more Southwestern inspiration perhaps to appear.

Birds of Prey dress by Chris Roberts-Antieau

The front rooms of the galleries show a rotating collection of available work, as well as occasional special openings, complete with music and readings. The back rooms are reserved for framing and shipping. It’s clear that a special artist resides here, as every vista is filled with delight.

Albino Taxidermy Deer by Chris Roberts-Antieau

There are often other creative elements on display, like the amazing Birds of Prey dresses (there are two different ones), embroidered gloves, snow globes, or taxidermy with embroidered masks. The artist is obviously unafraid to take chances.

Techniques

The pieces that mesmerized me at AVAM were different – more sophisticated, less folksy, more painterly. The humans and animals present were more lifelike, and they have gotten even more so in the last few years. There was definitely an overriding sense of “vision.” 

 

Gathering Stars by Chris Roberts-Antieau

I was immediately drawn to the pictorial nature,  but the embroidery details are the real eye-catchers on close inspection.

sketchbook of Chris Roberts-Antieau

The artist begins with her sketchbook, drawing page after page of simple designs based on a germ of an idea, often a saying or theme. There may be hints of embroidery details, but much of that is fleshed out later.

Deer by Chris Roberts-Antieau

The artist calls her technique fabric appliqué, and it seems as if she sat down with a pile of fabric and scissors to cut out the major blocks of color/pattern to fit her sketch. Where in the drawing pieces may overlap, in the finished work transparency reveals those overlaps. Clothing is often suggested entirely in thread, while hands and heads are more substantial fabric. The embroidery serves its purpose in making those overlays more interesting and substantial without making them heavy. From a distance they are less distinct, but they offer interest up close. As a person with machine embroidery skill, I can say that those elements are super time-consuming!!

Reflections by Chris Roberts-Antieau

The newer work uses heavier and heavier embroidery and ever lessening fabric detail. In fact, some of the taxidermy pieces even trim the excess fabric away from the embroidery to leave the fur as background.

Phantom Limb by Chris Roberts-Antieau

History

After a traumatic high school art class experience, Chris Roberts-Antieau eventually returned to art after the birth of her son. Creating fabric sculptures for the Ann Arbor Arts Fair led to designing wearables and a wholesale show which resulted in hundreds of orders, fifteen employees and eventual burnout. Turning to art for the wall, Chris began the fabric paintings, framed and hung behind glass, continuing to sell to galleries through wholesale shows.When her son moved to New Orleans after college, she fell in love with the city and started showing her work there at Jazz Fest. In 2010, she rented a gallery on Royal Street for a 30 day pop up gallery, and has been there ever since. Her work is collected by major celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Ryan Reynolds, and Mindy Kaling (who purchased Ascension, the piece with the swan, for $38,000).

Analysis

I reiterate that the point of these Muse Monday postings is to give me a chance to seek out inspiration and conversation with my muse for my own work. Obviously, I can’t copy anything from fiber directly into metal, but there are possibilities for me to break down elements that could translate. What am I drawn to? What can I use?

I can’t help but get sucked into these pieces and wonder about the story behind them. There is so much to see! I think that story is told in details and complexity. How do I convey more meaning and tell more stories through my work?  I keep coming back to the idea of adding more, not subtracting.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time studying the embroidered details on these fabric paintings. I feel like the sculptural detail that I get with my metal clay components is the analogue of embroidery detail in fiber. Can I use ideas from her repetition of these motifs in my own work? I need a box full of bits to play with to explore this further. I would like to extend my critter repertoire to include more than birds and bees to include rabbits and deer and more.

In my own fiber work, I frequently played games with transparency and layering. One of my recurring reservations with my current jewelry is that it is too flat, despite the sculptural parts and adding curvature. I’ve been considering layering, stacking, combining intermediate parts into something larger.

Color is one thing that is really at play in fiber that is much harder to address in metal. I do again reflect back to my back burner ideas about more glass paintings as “stones.”

If you’ve read all six installments of this artistic inspiration series, you’ll be able to tell that the same themes are coming up over and over in the analysis.t’s obvious that the muse is speaking loudly to me. I hear! Now, can I act?

Links

My Chris Roberts-Antieau pinterest board

Antieau Gallery website

Chris Roberts-Antieau profile

Chris Roberts-Antieau Phantom Limb Series video, part 1

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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Muse Monday #4 – Jeweler Carolyn Morris Bach

Today is the fourth installment of my new inspiration series. 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 my longtime idol, jeweler Carolyn Morris Bach.

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. -Albert Einstein

Carolyn Morris Bach brooch

Carolyn Morris Bach

For many years, I’ve coveted the iconic jewelry of Carolyn Morris Bach. Her Woodland series carries the feel of talismans, objects that convey magic powers, good fortune, and protection. All are one-of-a-kind pieces, with stones and found objects carved by hand and mounted within narrative frameworks of precious metal. Her use of woodland creatures – birds, bears, foxes, deer, and rabbits – conveys mystical unity with nature and insight into Mother Nature’s special purview.

brooch by Carolyn Morris Bach

Aspirational Jewelry

It’s hard NOT to construct stories around each delicate but strong vignette. Don’t you wonder what the dear and bird are whispering into the ear of this haloed woman? The handcarved stone faces were  originally inspired by Inuit Eskimo art, but Carolyn extended and personalized that concept. While each element is somewhat primitive, the combination of multiple figures with frameworks and stones builds visual complexity and adds to the story of the piece.

Angel brooch by Carolyn Morris Bach

Another angel brooch by Carolyn Morris Bach

While the artist revisits various themes (for example, the angel concept reappears again and again), each one is beautifully original. With such a broad theme and so many original parts, each meticulously cut and set, it’s easy to see how each piece leads to the next. This is a clear body of work, where the full range of the idea is explored with ever increasing skill.

Two versions of owl earrings by Carolyn Morris Bach

Techniques

The artist uses high karat gold, silver, copper combined with a range of carved stone, bone, and wood. She has a one-person studio, where she carves and forms each component entirely by her own hand.  There is again that sense of building components, then arranging them into collages that are held in place by wire frameworks bundled like grass or branches. It’s easy to envision days of carving small faces for future projects, then days of carving bodies for a variety of humans or creatures, and then even more days of pushing combinations around on the bench until the proper story unfolds.

owl pin/pendant by Carolyn Morris BachA

These complex constructions are typically articulated so that the pieces can move with the body.   And pins are usually convertible to be worn as pendants, on simple collars or on the artists more stylized neckpieces.

neckpiece by Carolyn Morris Bach

While the bezels for stones look perfect, the wrapped and soldered connections of the wire frameworks are very spontaneous and imperfect. Texture on the metal, whether rolled or hammered or soldered into place, has the appearance of deliberate, handmade artist marks.

rabbit earrings by Carolyn Morris Bach

Carolyn rarely brings bright color to her creatures, instead sticking to a neutral palette that makes the work very cohesive. Black ebody and white bone coordinate beautifully with rutilated quartz, pearls, and dendritic agate.

statement neckpiece by Carolyn Morris Bach

These are all clearly statement pieces, from the over-the-top neckpieces to the more affordable, simplified pieces. They are built for those who appreciate art and beauty by an artist that I imagine sitting at her bench building from the heart with no regard for time and labor.

brush by Carolyn Morris Bach

Carolyn Morris Bach brush

Beyond jewelry to be worn, they also read as art to be displayed when not on the body. I’m particularly in love with the non-jewelry pieces – the cosmetic brushes that are totally original (and I have the honor of owning one myself, which I display as art).

History

Trained as a jeweler and metalsmith at RISD, Carolyn Morris Bach lives in southern Rhode Island amongst the woodlands that inspire her work. Working for thirty years, she has made a following of corporate women looking for power amulets to wear into the workday battle.

A master of the high end fine craft show, where her booth reads like a gallery with white hard walls and shadow-boxed displays, she has developed a huge following over time. And her work has been collected by many museums around the country: Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Fuller Craft Museum outside Boston, and Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin.

Carolyn Morris Bach booth – ACC Show

shadow box display – Carolyn Morris Bach

Analysis

As a fellow artist inspired by the garden and nature forms, I find these pieces compelling. When I try to analyze why they are so powerful, I struggle to define the source. What I can tell immediately is that they are imbued with a sense of spirit. I sometimes think that comes from work that takes much time and hand contact, where a bit of soul transfers from the artist to the object through the long dialogue. These pieces call for exploration. I want to move their hinged parts, flip them over to see the reverse, and find their hidden secrets. I do believe that some of my more intricate pieces carry this sense of spirit. There’s a lot of detail, front and back, that takes time but carries meaning. Once again, I must “go for it” and begin anew on a series of statement pieces.

I find the variety of materials inspiring and feel yet again that I need to bring more gold into my personal constructions. By carving the stones into creatures, this artist has distinguished her use of stones from that of others, adding personality along with perceived value. While I don’t envision copying her approach, perhaps I should review how I use stones in my own work. I’ve played repeatedly with reverse painted enamel on glass, including buying lapidary equipment to shape and facet these “stones.” I just haven’t put enough time into moving that forward, and this reminds me that it’s a way to individualize my work further. So that’s something to put back on the experiment schedule.

I’m also drawn to the use of negative space, with the open areas, freeform borders, and three-dimensional stacks of components. I tend to use a fairly restrictive border construction on my designs, just as a matter of history.  I like to let my small components peek up and over that border, but maybe I need to break the border more deliberately as an experiment. Or add a wire framework in some way to bring more movement. Just doing a few sketches of ideas for this has brought a lot of life to the work, so this is something important to explore further. The idea of articulation is also something to incorporate.

Links

My pinterest board for Carolyn Morris Bach

Carolyn Morris Bach website

#carolynmorrisbach

Carolyn Morris Bach’s home & studio

Muse Monday #3 – Jeweler Gabriella Kiss

Welcome to installment three of my new inspiration series. 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 Gabriella Kiss.

When inspiration doesn’t come,
I go halfway to meet it. -Sigmund Freud

Gabriella Kiss – antler tiara – oxidized bronze with pearl, kyanite, smoky topaz & champagne diamonds

Gabriella Kiss

When I travel up to Dallas occasionally, I always make a point to go visit Grange Hall, just to look at their collection of Gabriella Kiss jewelry in person. Her work is, like mine, nature inspired. I find a great sense of elegance to her creations, along with a touch of whimsy.

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?

Gabriella Kiss – Large Mushroom Necklace – sterling and 14k with labradorite

Luxury Fashion Jewelry

I’d classify Gabriella Kiss into the category of luxury fashion jewelry, so a bit different than the first two artists I profiled. That is to say that, while her work is wildly original and handmade, it is for the most part production jewelry cast into bronze, silver or gold.

Her larger tiaras and necklaces definitely fall into the aspirational category, but there are multiples of them out in the world.

Gabriella Kiss – Intaglio Fish Pendant, one of a kind

Gabriella Kiss – Brown Rose Cut Diamond Ring

There are some one-of-a-kind pieces, and seemingly a more recent move toward simpler designs with stone emphasis and her signature scalloped bezels

Gabriella Kiss – druzy leaf pin

Gabriella Kiss – 14k Clipper Ship Earrings with horn sails and sapphire drops

Gabriella is well known for striking earring designs. Who else dreams up clipper ship dangles with carved horn sails and sapphire water drops??

Gabriella Kiss – Sleeping Bird earrings 18k with pearls

Gabriella Kiss – Hand Earrings sterling silver with crystals

Gabriella Kiss – Eye Pin with labradorite and pearls

All of her work from bird and insects to “body parts” like hands, feet, ears, and eyes is streamlined and elegant.

Gabriella Kiss – nose studs

There’s a subtle sense of humor behind some of the choices, like nose studs.

Techniques

Inspired by nature, Gabriella’s jewelry is nonetheless pared down to the essentials. Since all the production pieces are available in multiple finishes (bronze, sterling, various gold alloys), it’s clear they are cast as multiples. Finishing, including gemstones, of course, would be done individually by hand.

Her work tends to fall into series. Anatomical designs study gesture through hands, feet, eyes, etc. Birds, insects, snakes, mushrooms, and bones reference the natural world. Another gifted collector, rather than combining found objects (see Muse Monday – Jeweler Grainne Morton), she reveres specimens for their purity of form.

History

Gabriella Kiss is Canadian born and attended the Pratt Institute where she studied sculpture,  where she designed her own jewelry major within that department and learned lost-wax casting. She apprenticed with Ted Muehling, another amazing jeweler, spending eight years learning the trade and craft before going out on her own. Married to a furniture maker, and living/working in a collected and curated home means that her entire life is consumed by art ,

Analysis

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 Gabriella Kiss’s images, seeking a thread to lead me forward.

Of course, I share nature as a source of inspiration with this artist (and a million more!). I’m drawn to the lyrical line and elegance of her pared-down designs. Sometimes I think my heavily detailed jewelry is too much – overdone – and that I should experiment more with abstracting just a bit or using more negative space. Another thought I’ve had repeatedly is that I need to work more three-dimensionally, whereas my current process is low relief. My ceramic clay experiments are serving as a stepping stone in that direction, but the tiny scale of jewelry makes this difficult (and maybe that’s part of the appeal of Gabriella Kiss jewelry).

Her clear focus on small details is interesting. The idea that she can do a simple gemstone ring that looks similar to so many others, but have it clearly marked as her own by something as simple as a scalloped bezel detail is helpful to ponder. Similarly, she has particular ear wire designs that she uses over and over, another detail for which I’ve been searching for myself.

So my take away seems to be simplify more, look at details closer, design signature elements.

Links

Gabriella Kiss website

Gabriella Kiss Instagram

Dont miss! Gabriella Kiss Portrait in Creativity video

Gabriell Kiss studio tour 1 and studio tour 2

Muse Monday #2 – Jeweler Judy Geib

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

Judy Geib – Wheel bracelet, 18k gold, silver and opal

Judy Geib

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?

Aspirational Jewelry

Judy Geib – Alpha earrings with opal centers and emerald drops. Meteor Shower line.

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.

Judy Geib – opal Totems bracelet

Judy Geib – Flowery Necklace with emerald

Technique

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.

Judy Geib sketches

Judy Geib asymmetric earrings

Her trademark flattened wire flower earrings are wonderful for their balanced asymmetry.

Judy Geib necklace – Wish Sweet Wild Silly

This more structured necklace is based on glyphs from the Book of Kells, and took months to make.

The making of Corsage Sauvage from dirk vandenberk on Vimeo.

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!

Judy Geib – Amorphous necklace and earrings in their fitted box

Judy Geib – Corsage Sauvage Duex, aka Wildflower Wrist Corsage. Opals, peridot, moonstone, silver, 18k and 24k gold, alligator strap

Analysis

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?

Links

My Judy Geib Pinterest board

Judy Geib website (only goes up to 2012)

Judy Geib Instagram

#judygeib

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

Muse Monday #1 – Jeweler Grainne Morton

I’ve decided to do a new blog regular feature on an artist that inspires me.  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.

Whatever you love, begin there. -Robin Chapman

Grainne Morton – bird medal brooch

Grainne Morton

This week’s first installment features the jewelry of Grainne Morton, whose work has exploded in popularity recently.

I’ve been watching Grainne’s work for some time now, as it flittered across my Pinterest and Instagram feeds. And with an overnight trip to Houston and pops into the Museum of Fine Arts and Kuhl Linscomb, shops among the limited stockists of her work in the US, I became even more smitten. So, I sat down to do a bit more research and study. 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?

Aspirational Jewelry

Grainne is an Edinburgh-based jeweler whose website describes her work as both eclectic and contemporary, inspired by collectors and collections, comprised of found objects and precious metals. As the daughter of antique dealers, she’s a collector at heart and chose to incorporate vintage and kitsch bits into her jewelry.

Grainne Morton collage necklace pearl leaves and birds

Grainne Morton – Sylvain Deieu pearl leaves and birds

The earlier pieces of her work that I first saw were complex and beautiful, built of gorgeously collaged collections of antique ephemera. This necklace gives a good example of the delicacy and beauty. As a serious lover of both mother-of-pearl and birds, this was a piece that appealed to my heart.

Techniques

So how is it done? Bits and pieces are extracted from vintage jewelry, then reset into delicate bezel or prong settings. The art of collaging these disparate elements into a cohesive whole is trickier than the results might suggest. The rhythm of the pieces are lovely, achieving balance without being perfectly matched. The workmanship is superb. The overarching themes for each piece bring cohesion.

Grainne Morton asymmetric earrings

Those older pieces also included a wide array of asymmetric earrings, which have been a favorite of mine. I love how these earrings utilize similar shapes and color to build the structure, but then there is variation. The rhythm is excellent, a perfect use of push/pull: smooth and carved, transparent and opaque, matte and shiny.

Contemporary Jewelry

The newer work that has come with the high prominence is a bit more contemporary,  more streamlined, an intriguing combination of opposing trends towards minimalism and boho revival.

Grainne Morton – eye balance earrings

Grainne Morton eye balance earrings

Grainne Morton – Coral Chandelier Earrings

Chandelier earrings, especially those featuring eyes have been hugely popular.

Grainne Morton – hand earrings

And simpler styles and less expensive items are now available, for those admirers who can’t afford one of the aspirational pieces.

Grainne Morton – charm necklace

Minimalist charm necklaces have also been prevalent, using antique charms, buttons, and stones. All these contemporary pieces are much simpler in technique, with simple bezel or prong set charms and classic wire connectors.

History

Grainne Morton – early fibula pins

Press has picked her up and suddenly she’s a phenomenon. but it’s interesting to see the curve of her career. She earned a post-graduate degree in jewelry from Edinburgh College of Art in 1993 and garnered several UK awards in the following decade.  One of her earliest blog posts in 2009 shows the origins of her charm pieces in these simple fibula brooches.

Grainne Morton

Grainne won the Jerwood Arts Prize in 2007 for her narrative assemblage jewelry, and afterward focused on a series of “heritage” jewelry when she participated in CraftScotland’s exhibition at Collect 2011. She claims that it encouraged her to make a new body of work and “go for it,” working beyond the more salable pieces required for galleries. Both those latter links are videos – don’t miss her speaking about her process in her lovely Irish accent.

Analysis

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 Grainne Morton’s images, seeking enlightenment.

Why am I so drawn to this jewelry? I love the collection aspect of it, the similarities and juxtaposition of so many elements. My current process is actually quite similar, in that I build small components, sort them into tiny collection boxes, then sit at the bench and shuffle them into pleasing arrangements. I envision the same technique is at work for Grainne, but with the advantage of many pleasant treasure hunts to amass the components. It validates my process, I suppose, which I often feel is too labor intensive. Perhaps I should consider whether I can incorporate more found objects? Or perhaps I need to more consciously study vintage jewelry for inspiration for my components? Or maybe I just need to feel secure and move forward?

Sometimes I feel that the current trend in minimalism is at odds with my personal proclivities. I like tiny, detailed, narrative work, but I fear that it is “out of fashion.”  Seeing the success of Grainne’s work reassures me that there is a place for such work, and that I too should just “go for it.” Perhaps my attempts to make more marketable work should take a backseat for a time to my more elaborate dream constructions.

Links

My Grainne Morton Pinterest Board

Grainne Morton Instagram

#grainnemorton

Grainne Morton website

Grainne Morton Jerwood Prize video

And just for fun, a tour of her home, including her studio, And another.

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