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Archive for the ‘Jewelry Exhibits’ Category

In the posts I’ve made so far, I’ve talked about materials such as metal, vinyl,  gemstones, and crystals, but I haven’t yet talked about glass.

After seeing an article today about an opening of a new exhibit at the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi called Glasswear:  Glass in Contemporary Jewelry, it was clear that it’s time to talk glass.  In this exhibit, while most of the work can be worn, the focus is on the glass as art.


This string of huge beads spans the exhibit floor. According to an article in the Caller-Times by Dr. Elizabeth E. Reese, the beads are strung on black yachting rope, with knots between each bead. The installation was meant to have 32 beads, but only 28 were used because the weight caused the rope to stretch. This is a problem that jewelry-makers face when stringing and knotting on silk, only on a much smaller scale, of course. Photo by Todd Yates, reprinted with permission of Corpus Christi Caller-Times

If you have not spent a great deal of time at bead shows or in the company of serious glass bead artists, you may not be familiar with glass beads beyond those of the artisans of Murano in Italy.

If that’s the case, you might have missed the spectacular art beads produced in borosilicate glass by Tom Boylan:

I used one of Tom's beads for this pendant.

I used one of Tom's beads for this pendant. Photo by Linda Castellani

Here’s another Boylan bead, from his website http://www.tomboylan.com:

No one works magic in borosilicate glass like Tom.

No one works magic in borosilicate glass like Tom. Photo by Martha Bouquin

or the whimsical beads produced by the incomparable Sharon Peters:

SharonSharon has a skewed – in a good way – perspective on the world around her and finds ways to reproduce what she sees – real or not –  in glass.  One example is this egg bracelet, featuring whole eggs, sunnyside-up eggs, and a matching egg clasp.   For more examples see her website at http://www.smartassglass.com. Photo by Jim Trenkle.

Sharon and Tom work in traditional materials designed for glass beads.  According to the article about the exhibit in Texas, the glass used in the collection also includes found window glass, blown glass,  glass lenses, and laboratory glass, as in the work by Sandra Enterline shown here:

The glass tubes contain various found objects, but there is no doubt that this is jewelry. Photo by Todd Yates, reprinted with permission of Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Here are two other breathtaking examples of what can be seen at this exhibit.  Too bad I don’t have plans to be in South Texas for this; I’d love to see all of the 130 works in the exhibit.

This lighter-than-air necklace of blown Murano glass bubbles by artist Giorgio Vigna is called Gorgoglio. Photo by Todd Yates, reprinted with permission of Corpus Christi Caller-Times

This necklace by British artist Wendy Ramshaw is called Chain of Glass Tears for Weeping Woman. Photo by Todd Yates, reprinted with permission of Corpus Christi Caller-Times

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The Field Museum Information: Press Room

Whenever I see an exhibit of ancient jewelry, I am always surprised by how current it looks.  I have to remind myself that jewelry-making is an ancient enterprise, using the same materials and essentially the same tools that have been used for centuries.

Here’s a picture of the remnants of a gold, turquoise, chalcedony, and glass necklace from 14th century Iran:

A necklace from Iran, circa 14th century

A necklace from Iran, circa 14th century

I had a jewelry show of my own work earlier today, in which I sold gold, turquoise, chalcedony, and glass bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.

The only difference between what I sold today and the pieces from antiquity is that my materials were beads, and they were strung, not set.

Despite those minor differences, some things just do not change.  When I set a stone in metal, it is very likely to be bezel set – a thin strip of metal in the shape of the stone is soldered to the main piece of the work.  The stone – either faceted or cabochon – is placed in the bezel which is then burnished to mold the bezel to the stone and hold it in place. Take a closer look at the necklace above.  The top two pieces, just below what must have been the clasp, are empty bezels.  They have lost their stones.  Take a close look at the clasp and the pendant.  You can see circles that look almost like bubbles in this photograph.  Each of those circles is an empty bezel that has lost its stone.

Not all of the bezels are circles, either. Other empty bezel shapes like oval and paisley are also visible.

This is an ancient technique.  Undoubtedly the solder we use today comes in a different form than they had – for example, mine is very thin sheet and comes in soft, medium, or hard – but the way it’s used is exactly the same.

In February, an entire collection of jewelry antiquities from Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant, Persia, and the Islamic Middle East will go on display at the Field Museum in Chicago.  They will be accompanied by maps and other illustrations that will place the jewelry in the context of its culture and time.

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