“Something Old, Something New” Jewelry artist Marianne Hunter incorporates estate jewels into her gorgeous new pieces. You can meet her at the upcoming Washington Craft Show.
Not only are those the words of a popular children’s song, they are words to live by for Marianne Hunter, a jewelry artist working in a small studio in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California; where she will often take precious stones and other pieces from estate jewelry and repurpose them in her new creations.
“The idea of re-utilizing, or recycling, materials from one form into another is certainly not new with me,” says Hunter. “Many jewelers will redesign around a client’s stones. Some designers have based their entire body of work around the creative re-combination of found materials.” Hunter sees similarities between her work and that of clothing/quilting designers, sculptors and others, who “also take inspiration and build pieces from recycled materials – new or old,” she says.
Where does Hunter find the estate jewelry she uses in her new pieces? “Some I find at antique shows, while some stones are extracted from pieces I’ve bought long ago for the stones and the weight of the gold.” Hunter says she also utilizes stones from the collections of her clients, “which are sometimes gathered from miscellaneous pieces, or from a piece they don’t use. Others are inherited jewelry pieces that I incorporate into one of my own concepts.”
One example of Hunter’s recycling can be found in a piece she titled “Kabuki Kachina of Gentle Regard.” (Hunter names all of her pieces, and writes a short poem for each, which is delivered to the client along with the jewelry).
Kabuki Kachina of Gentle Regard
“I found a rather overdone art deco pin in diamond and 18kt white gold. In the middle of it was the form I cut free to use as the bodice of the figure’s gown. Its formal and elaborate design inspired this old world female figure with her owl and dove companions and star spangled cape.”
When the materials Hunter incorporates into her jewelry are underutilized family inheritance , she enjoys “the challenge and responsibility of honoring them and creating a new and more appreciated home for them.” The jewelry maker enjoys taking inspiration from these pieces of the past “in the same way I take inspiration from the stones and other materials in my collection.”
She finds joy “in the surprise of the juxtaposition of old and new,” and appreciates the fact that the stones and precious metals are being reused as opposed to using only newly mined materials.
Kabuki Kachina of Snow Falling Softly
This viewpoint is shared by others who earn their living creating Fine Crafts, says Hunter, who points out that the work found at Fine Craft shows has a far lighter carbon footprint than mass- produced works. “Most of us work in small studios, with few or no employees. We work efficiently with our materials and our energy use. Our raw materials/finished goods use far less transportation energy than mass produced goods. We save every scrap and filing to send in to be re-fined and receive back newly milled metals to create from again.”
The Galaxies Whirl
Using antique jewelry may not seem like mainstream recycling, “but it’s still part of the mindset,” says Hunter.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Hunter begins the design process by searching for a theme. “Sometimes the inspiration comes from a particular stone, sometimes from my garden or books,” she says. “Sometimes it comes from the wild blue.”
The next step is to create a drawing to scale in full detail of enamel, metals and stones. The enamel form is traced onto the metal and sawed free. “Now the music starts,” says Hunter.
Her enamel technique begins with 3-5 background firings of black enamel over copper or silver. The images are then built up in multiple firings of very thin layers of enamels which are applied dry by sifting, or by laying on with a tiny knife.
“My grisaille process utilizes very fine mesh white enamel over the black for a full range of value: black to grey to white,” Hunter explains. “When I am using color I most often use precisely cut 24kt and .999 silver foils, each tiny shape from the drawing.” These are carefully placed, as needed, and fired over the previously fired and cooled layers.
A delicate layer of transparent and/or opalescent enamels is then laid and fired. Additional layers of foils and enamels are built up until the full range and depth of color and detail is achieved. A finished piece will require from as many as 100 firings.
The metal work settings are individually hand-fabricated, textured and engraved to present the enamels and stones in a painterly continuation of imagery. Hunter uses 24kt gold for all of the bezels and most (90%) of the other soldered decorative appliques. She will also use rose, green and white gold. For the supporting structure and clasps, she chooses 22kt, 14kt gold and/or sterling silver.
Each piece is unique; each is completed with the engraving on the back of its individual number, metals, the title -poem written for it, date & signature. Each piece is registered to its owner.
Marianne Hunter will be at the Washington Craft Show, Nov. 19-21, 2010 at the Washington Convention Center.