Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Natural History - Bead Dreams 2009
Well, if I understand the scheduling right, the judging for Bead Dreams 2009 should be finished at this point, although I don't think the winners have actually been announced. To be perfectly frank, I'm not expecting to place (although, of course, I'd be thrilled if I do), but I thought it would be okay to go ahead and show you my piece, which will be on display in Milwaukee at the Bead & Button Show starting tomorrow. Here it is: a belt buckle entitled "Natural History", which is a finalist in the metal clay category of the competition.
I have always been extremely interested in Renaissance-era cabinets of curiosity (also called cabinets of wonder). Towards the end of 2008, I started thinking about how to translate these artifacts into something wearable. In particular, I thought the specimen box format of the cabinet would lend itself to a unique display of found objects in jewelry. I initially created a box containing four objects, both mythical and more natural history-related. This piece is scheduled to appear later this year in a very special book, so I'm afraid I'm going to be keeping it under wraps for the moment. Because I liked the way this original box turned out, I decided to get more ambitious for my next piece, and spent the next several months collecting fossil specimens and designing a more complex box for them.
I have a rather nice collection of small fossils at this point in my stash. The ones that ultimately made it into this piece are an actual fossilized spinosaurus tooth, pearlized and pyritized ammonite, fossilized sea urchins, a fossilized trilobite and a small dendrite plate. The box itself, of course, is made from metal clay and the belt buckle closures are my usual snake and bone beads.
I really had no expectations of making the finals when I submitted this piece. For me, deciding to enter the contest itself is always the big hurdle - it inspires me to get an ambitious piece off of my sketchbook and turn it into something tangible. I tried several techniques that were new to me to make this piece, which I know is not the usual way one goes about entering a major contest, but, as I say, sometimes I really need the contest to get me to risk the clay to try new things - it's just the way my personality works. I am very happy with the way my "cabinet of curiosity" pieces have turned out. I suspect this may be my major work for the year, just as I feel that my entry last year, "I Think Therefore I Am" was my best work in 2008. (In fact, I am still working on various related necklace designs, which is quite unusual for me, as I tend to move on to new things once I've completed a big concept piece.)
I am completely delighted that the editors at Kalmbach judged the concept original enough to warrant inclusion in the finals of Bead Dreams 2009 - thank you so much. I hope that I will continue to learn and grow in my craft and will have something new and original to show for it next year, as well.
Thanks for visiting.