What is amulet jewelry?
To me, it is the idea that adornment is more than just pretty jewelry to wear, but something that has meaning. Holds power.
At least in the way that it keeps close what you hold dear, what gives you strength, tells the story of what you are passionate about.
Years ago I applied to sell my work at a small local artist co-op in a favorite tourist town nearby, dreaming of a place to be a few times a month to get out of studio clothes, put my rusty social skills to use (feral me!) and most importantly to get to know other artists, be a part of something- that social camaraderie missing from a solo artist’s business life.
I dropped my work off at the desk, and two weeks later I got a call that it was rejected due to two factors:
– one being that the price points were higher than what they mostly sell (understandable) and the other was that they were uncomfortable having to explain to their customers what “amulets” were.
That rejection still stings a bit, but I've learned that it is better to use these moments when hurt to reflect instead of internalizing. To take constructive, positive action.
Thankfully soon after I found what I was seeking, even closer to home. I joined the vibrant Hilltown Arts Alliance and take part in our yearly Hilltown Open Studio Tour with nearly 30 other talented artists. This is something I had always dreamt about, having an open studio event, and never expected to land in the perfect place for one, these scenic foothills of the Berkshire Mountains of New England. 2022 will bring our fourth year this October, last year's event was our most successful and we hope to make this one even better. Hope you can join us.
history & inspiration
Some of the of exhibitions, jewelry and objects that have lit the path forward on this journey.
Years ago my mom gifted her charm bracelet to me.
Looking at all the details and moving parts sparked a lifelong pursuit of jewelry-making with deep meaning & sentiment.
My father put a tiny "Love Note" to my mom inside the little silver mailbox but was lost over the years.
Everything is ephemeral.
Photographed with Dr. Doolittle, another inspiration. Still wishing I could talk to the animals, and always try to help shine a light on those that help not harm.
As a child, one of my first loves was a tiny ibex crafted of warm brass or gold metal purchased from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts gift shop.
The original was sadly lost over the years, but he was similar to this little beauty from @ 5th century B.C.
The Pompeii Exhibition was a wonder for me as a ten year old. Overwhelming in its suffering and tragedy but also in its preserved beauty and history.
magic. adornment. mystery. frozen in time.
I recently purchased the exhibition catalogs on ebay, it was a striking trip down memory lane. Still inspiring.
amulets & talisman
A few examples of Egyptian Adornment ~ a passion also sparked by those early museum visits and studied with all the library books I could find.
Beaded collar with amulets ~ EgyptianMiddle Kingdom, Dynasty 11–132061–1640 B.C. MFA Boston
From Wikipedia: "An amulet, also known as a good luck charm, is an object believed to confer protection upon its possessor. The word "amulet" comes from the Latin word amuletum, which Pliny's Natural History describes as "an object that protects a person from trouble"
ring set with a mouse design amulet
ca. 1479–1425 B.C. Egypt
Like many I was bullied in Jr. High for being different. As a shy teenager I wore all manner of oddities in my ears and around my neck; safety pins, doll parts, plastic animals, keys, etc. A favorite was this silver lion-headed armband that I still have, now beautifully tarnished with age.
My teased mane in High School had some roaring at me in the halls, but soon found my sanctuary by hiding in the Art Department. The teachers lightheartedly teased me but also encouraged making my own jewelry to wear...one of these wonderful art teachers was Nunzio Luca.
Nunzio kindly gifted me a winged lion pin made by a relative of his.
The symbol of the city of Venice, its patina has changed over the years and spurred a lifelong love of aged metals and all things Venice. (And more importantly, an appreciation for kindness- what one person can spark in you.)
The winged lion holds court in our dining room here at Frog Hollow. A talisman and reminder to follow your dreams, to be enchanted, and constantly inspired.
To live your "one wild and precious life" as Mary Oliver so beautifully said in her poem "The Summer Day"
(Still hoping to get to Venice someday.)
symbolism & beasties
While studying at the SMFA Boston we were sent to the Boston Public Library to research the History of Jewelry.
In the pages of one book this little guy jumped out at me, I took a photocopy and made a replica as a class project.
"Symbolism was a late 19th-century art movement of French, Russian, and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts seeking to represent absolute truths symbolically through language and metaphorical images, mainly as a reaction against naturalism and realism."
Lucien Hirtz (1864 - 1928)
"Necklet in Chased Gold, with a large Topaz"
My interpretation in black fimo with quartz crystal. (Photographed with my vintage mossy green Fluevogs that I still have, though I no longer wear any animal leather or suede.)
I loved that this little jeweled creature reminded me of the gargoyles I had seen adorning churches and gothic architectural buildings. These animal/dragon/beasties are said to protect and ward off harmful spirits and sometimes double as downspouts.
I still sometimes work in the same clay for casting, but trying to get better at traditional wax molding.
Reliquaries have long fascinated me. Holding sacred objects, creating a deep reverence through ornate design and keeping them safe.
The Reliquary Shrine a 14th-century container for relics. Made from translucent enamel,gilt-silver and paint, c 1325–50.
Reliquary of Mary Magdalene, 14th and 15th century
Made in Tuscany, Italy
Gilded copper, gilded silver, rock crystal.
The Talisman of Charlemagne is a 9th-century Carolingian reliquary encolpion that may once have belonged to Charlemagne and is purported to contain a fragment of the True Cross.
John Ruskin, The Orders of Venetian Arches, 1853,
bestiaries, illuminated letters, book of hours
The Lady & The Unicorn, The Cloisters, Morris & Co, Jane Morris
Mary Frances & Walter Crane
archetypes & icons
these three people have been the biggest influences on what I make
I am also incredibly inspired by music, it affects me so deeply and sets the mood in my workspace.
thank you for reading
questions or comments welcomed