Author Archives: Islay Taylor

Superfly Caddis Fly Larvae

French artist Hubert Duprat has made many types of sculptures over the past few decades, but these gilded caddisfly casings are my favorites. I love these tiny gilt insect homes.

Caddisflies live in streams and ponds and protect themselves by spinning silk with debris found along lake bottoms. They use any small bits available to make their sheaths, be it sand, bone bits, shell, plant material, etc.

French artist Hubert Duprat moved some of the caddisfly larvae into a home aquarium, and provided them with only gold, jewels, and semi-precious stones to build their sheaths. The materials used includes gold spangles, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, pearls, opals, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and coral.

The Queen of Versailles

I recently watched an interesting documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles,’ which focuses on a Floridian billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their quest to build the largest house in America.

Screen shot 2012-12-28 at 12.27.16 PM

The intent of the movie was about the couples conspicuous consumption: Jackie and David Siegel were building a 90,000 square foot palace in the image of the original Versailles.

The film opens prior to the economic crisis while construction on the house is in full swing. The wastefulness, chaotic tackiness, and unabashed gluttony of the Siegel family is on display. But, the documentary is also witness to the shift that occurs as a result of the financial crisis. Credit dries up. Siegel’s timeshare business, which relies on cheap credit, begins to flounder. Versailles falls into disrepair. The family begins to crack. “This is almost like a riches-to-rages story,” Siegel tells the camera.

The film is an amazing portrait of a hyper-opulent version of the american dream, and the ridiculously wealthy (and crazy) family that fuels it. The juxtaposition of the Siegel’s wealth in an increasingly desolate environment was inspiring to me. Their dreams became a plastic mirage, something that they could only see but never reach.

Basically, you really should see this movie!

Queen of Versailles, Jackie SiegelJackie Siegel poses with her daughters and dog in front of their private jet

Screen shot 2012-12-28 at 12.31.50 PMA sea of golden accessories

Screen shot 2012-12-28 at 12.54.47 PMThe Siegel family limo takes a trip through the drive-in

Screen shotJackie’s pet dog meets her stuffed dog

ScreenAn amazing fantasy portrait of Jackie and David Siegel

PVD 2.0

Islay Taylor PVD Haircomb in progress

I’m working on a new Providence skyline hair comb, inspired by a vintage Victorian piece that I recently picked il_570xN.298032189up. The Victorian original is from the late 19th century and is a type known as a Spanish mantilla comb because it resembles the traditional high topped tortoiseshell ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. The production of the opera Carmen led to a fashion for high Spanish style combs in the 1870s. I really like the piercing and asymmetry of this comb, and how it really has a sense of movement about it.

I’m thinking that I’ll end up doing a series of these combs, because there’s just too much bizzarro skyline in Providence to include in one comb. Obviously, I have to include the Turks head building, and the upright bridge, and the big blue bug… I’ll include newer design pictures once I get that far.

Engagement Ring Commission

I recently had the pleasure to work on a commission for an amazing couple: Graham and Karina. I’ve been acquainted with these two for a couple of years now, when Graham told me that he wanted to propose to Karina and was interested in getting a custom engagement ring for her.

Graham wanted something unique that had a sense of texture and depth to it. I was inspired by how open Graham was to different designs, and ended up basing their ring off of van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. Similar to the famous impressionistic painting, I wanted the textures of this ring to overlap and blend towards the centerpiece of the ring: a brilliant aquamarine set into a gold bezel. Along the way, I inlaid droplets of gold through the ring shank to integrate the bezel into the design.

Ultimately, I am extremely happy with the ring and it was so much fun working with Graham on the design. It’s a big responsibility making a singular object to represent two peoples love and affection, and I’d be lying to say that I wasn’t a little intimidated at first. I’m honored that Graham entrusted me with such a precious task.

Project Grant at crafthaus

I’m excited to announce that a project that I’m working on, Flotsam and Jetsam, is up for a project grant award over at crafthaus.

But, I need your help! The grant is going to go to the project with the most votes… and anyone can vote!  If you click here, you can learn about my project and vote for it at the bottom of the page.

Flotsam & Jetsam Project Description:

With funding provided by the Crafhaus Project Grant I propose to create a series of laser cut neckpieces that will blur the identity between two disparate materials found in the ocean environment: seaweed and trash. This series, titled Flotsam & Jetsam, will explore the aesthetic dichotomy between these artificial and natural materials.

According to statistics compiled by Save the Bay, (a Rhode Island based organization aimed at protecting the local ocean and coastlines) Rhode Islands five beaches yielding the highest amount of trash produced upwards of 10,000lbs of detritus in 2011 alone. This shocking amount of litter seems comparable to the amount of seaweed and other plant life found on the beach.

In response to this overwhelming amount of trash, Flotsam & Jetsam will put a focus on this litter while presenting the concept in a material that visually references the oceans organic elements.

I will gather debris from each of the five beaches that Save the Bay has identified as the highest grossing, and will then arrange the collected trash into compositions reminiscent of bouquets of plant materials such as seaweed. I will then laser cut the silhouettes of these arrangements into translucent latex sheeting that emulates seaweed commonly found in local waters. These neckpieces will be the same dimensions as the original refuse; yet will be embellished with beads to imitate polyps and air bladders typically found on seaweed.

Click here to vote.

Studio Field Trip

Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the studio of local Silversmith, Jeffrey Herman. Jeffrey is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths, and also runs his own business, Herman Silver, out of his studio. He does everything from professionally polishing silver pieces to restoring museum quality silverwork. His studio is an efficient and immaculate shop set up do to numerous processes. I loved how organized and clean it is, and how highly polished all his tools are.

In the Studio

It’s almost my one year anniversary of working in my new studio space; actually, I guess it’s been long enough that I can’t call it ‘new’ anymore! I share the third floor mill space with three other amazing makers and a ton of plants. Our studio is s a creative incubator that I love to spend time in… despite the fact that it’s sweltering in the summer. I always feel energized and satisfied after working there.

I always think it’s interesting to see where the finished product comes from and how similar the jewelry and the creative environment can be. So, I decided to take some pictures of my work-space to share with you.

 The big picture of my nook in our studio. We painted the space in various blues and greens. 

I now realize how desperately we need to paint the facade of that counter unit!

 This is my little work area; lots of nail polish, hair, and fur!

 Various feathers, ribbons, beads, and reflective glass thread.

Hanging over the corner of my work bench are my hammers, beads, and other supplies.