Oh man, I am utterly smitten and inspired by Iris Apfel. Her snappy sense of humor, daring fashion sense, and dedication to being her authentic self make her a role model for fashionistas and makers alike.
I recently watched the documentary, IRIS, that delves into her life – it was a spectacular visual cacophony… She pairs bright patterns, sparkly gemstones, and tribal prints in her daily wardrobe. Iris is a prime example of how people can be walking pedestals for artwork; that we are all living artworks. Considering that what I’m currently working on uses low budget materials, I especially appreciate that she primarily collects costume jewelry.
Since watching the documentary, I’ve found myself wondering ‘What Would Iris Do?‘ when I’m stumped in my studio. If you’d like to learn more about Iris Apfel, you can watch her documentary here.
I just finished a new necklace! This chain is made out of bone, garnet, horse hair, brass, repurposed toll tokens, and thread. It was inspired loosely by the people documented by Jimmy Nelson in his new book, Before They Pass. I really love how his photos capture the adornment worn by the various cultures that he’s visited. With this piece, and the other ones I’m currently working on, I really wanted to work in a way that was philosophically parallel to the peoples I’m drawing inspiration from. So, many of the materials are repurposed and transformed from everyday objects that I have on hand.
The finished piece is below, and the thumbnail above is the planning sketch from my sketchbook.
I recently checked out an exquisite book from the library by Dutch photographers Dos and Bertie Winkle, Vanishing Beauty: Indigenous Body Art and Decoration. It’s a compilation of photographs documenting the Winkle’s travels across five continents in an effort to capture the body art and adornment of varying cultures and tribes.
I particularly appreciated the neckpieces of the Rendille tribe of Northern Kenya. The armor-like necklaces, pictured below, were originally made of grass beads, leather, and elephant hair. Now that elephants are no longer plentiful, the pieces incorporate palm fibers instead of hair. Traditionally worn by women, these collars indicate marital status.
I really like the use of pigments, the structure, and the physical dimension of these pieces. I have more horse hair in my studio, and I can’t wait to see how these pieces inspire my upcoming work. For more information about the Rendille, you can click here.
photos: Dos and Bertie Winkle
As I was looking into the fashion photography of Emma Summerton, I came across a story from Vogue China that’s heavily inspired by baroque styles. The waifish models used in the campaign are dressed in dark garb and heavily adorned, both aspects indicative of the baroque period…
But, there’s a decidedly modern take. Also, the adornment that the model has been styled with feature ornately fashioned gold and pearl elements that just overwhelm the image with opulence. I’ve paired three images from the photo shoot below with original design drawings of baroque jewelry. Enjoy!
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.
I’ve been working on joining some disparate elements that have been hanging out on my workbench for ages. Here’s a little vignette of some of the elements that I’ve been working with… I can’t wait to show you some more progressive iterations of these designs.
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.
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!
Jackie Siegel poses with her daughters and dog in front of their private jet
A sea of golden accessories
The Siegel family limo takes a trip through the drive-in
Jackie’s pet dog meets her stuffed dog
An amazing fantasy portrait of Jackie and David Siegel
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.
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.