Paper, purpose, and pendants...

by - Sunday, September 22, 2019

I remember the abundance of glossy fliers filled with kilim carpets, printed skirts, bone china florals, and crewelwork pillows for sale cramming the mailbox at my childhood home. The patterns fascinated and excited me when I was in high school. Though I didn't buy anything at the time, flipping through the colorful pages opened my eyes to a seemingly endless supply of delightful items available worldwide through the mail. Even in our dot-com era, my mother maintains the title Queen of Catalogs by the mail carriers on the neighborhood route.

I began to tear sheets from the discarded booklets, saving them not for gift ideas as my mother did but for the pure pleasure of keeping ones I adored. It pained me to see so many pretty pictures thrown away, and this habit continued when I subscribed to periodicals as an adult.

Scrapped postcards, pre-owned datebook pages, cuttings of previous year calendars and out-of-date magazines eventually added to my growing collection. A born organizer, I gleefully began the task of formulating library binders according to various categories: floral, geometric, acanthus, conversational, animal print.

But I still had no other use for this extensive library than reference and aiding mood boards I created for my career as a knitwear designer. That is until I started tinkering with handmade jewelry on the side. My excitement ignited upon discovering an inventive way to renew traditional craft with a contemporary spirit by experimenting with the transfer medium, Omni-Gel. The beautiful result changed everything.

As a play on words of the European craft découpage, I like to call this technique Deux-coupage™. In French, Deux means two; coupage is to cut. With classic découpage, images begin as paper cut-outs and are glued onto items then sealed with multiple coats of varnish. Deux-coupage™ boasts two sides, one of the captured images carefully transferred by hand, the reverse reflecting natural elements of the base with the addition of a complementary motif in metallic dry-transfer.

My library of recycled paper embraces artful purpose now. Chosen pictures are first brushed with several layers of the Omni-Gel medium to seal it. Once completely dry, the clipping is soaked in lukewarm water to soften the back layer of paper so it can be removed gently revealing a semi-transparent image. The image skin is dried again, then applied to the material of choice with the same adhesive and later sealed with multiple coats to secure the finished piece. Many of my pendants are mother of pearl, natural seashell, semi-precious stone, and metal in an array of size and shape. This process is time-consuming, but the result resembles fine painting or inlay work, a glorious example of true decorative art-to-wear. Earrings dance in pretty patterns and necklaces frame the wearer with truly distinctive looks that beautify and bestow a lasting impression.

Pursuing my artisan journey of jewelry design for almost ten years and continually refining my skills, I learned to lampwork the glass beads as well. I instinctively adapted to the art of flameworking glass. Now the adornments take on further meaning for one-of-a-kind. While many times I begin with a finished Deux-coupage™ pendant to match in handmade glass, my curious spirit and exploratory nature produce delightful baubles I couple afterward with images from the library. However it happens, the process always feels new. My favorite piece is still the one just finished.

Life can be colorful and complicated or soft and subdued. I believe jewelry is like life, all about balance. It is an ongoing lesson, discovering new combinations that work effortlessly, others requiring time and patience to get just right. I aim to blur the distinction between current and classic, to keep my work fresh and on-trend, wearable, and artfully combined.

Revisiting period craft with a modern twist spawns a new age of art-to-wear — a little something created with paper, purpose, and pendants.

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