Tag Archives: Nature

Peer Smed

One can get a sense of how the lives of artisans have changed in a few generations time through little suggestive windows left from the turn of the century. Candid home snapshots start appearing, indexed documents are more easily found. Without too much information, the life or Peer Smed was a successful one. The son of a blacksmith, he moved to New York from Copenhagen, where the silversmith guilds would help promising artisans emigrate for fear of having a surplus in their countries. He occupied one studio and never left it, having five children several of whom grew up working with him. His work was held in museums during his lifetime, and he contributed architectural elements throughout the city. He lost a daughter when she was 18.

Dragon Triskelion

What is striking to me is the stability (standard of living) for the memorable metal artists of this time – from residency, to commission, to family and home. By contrast, a modern metal artisan may choose their trade arbitrarily out of interest, is very briefly trained at great personal expense, and is left to seek their fortune as an entrepreneur. Their skills frequently have little outlet among modern products (Peer Smed would make silverware and table services, for instance). For contemporaries the establishment of a permanent studio and a family is often delayed for a long period of time. This is not to say that every metalsmith of his day was of the calibre of Peer Smed, but one can see a distinction between a recent history of holistic cultural integration in the trade, and the literally radical and novel market based challenges today. Which is to say, an individual that understakes the approach of fine craft today, especially as an adult, is possessed of a good measure of courage.





Most of these images as you can see, are from a site that has an interesting bio page including photographs, I recommend you take a look and perhaps reflect on similar things: Peer Smed

· Jennifer Trask ·

A living artisan that completely bridges the divide between sculptor and jeweler, and whose work crackles with intelligence. After working for several years, she started gaining notice and has become justifiably successful. With her growing acclaim, she shows complete independence. Rather than devolving into a designer’s role creating redundant wealth-objects of increasing expense, she demonstrates a continued devotion to working the materials personally. Her latest series, Vestige, is breathtaking, and instead of gold she creates complicated formulations out of ordinary bone. Eclectic carvings are fused with the metaphoric bones of antique picture frames. The mark of a brilliant materials handler, the essence of gold retains its contemporary spare inkling through the remnants of gold leafing on old wood; the wealth on display is skill and the devotion of time. It generates a feeling of gratitude in me that the artist has chosen to direct her success towards a deeper pursuit of artistry, providing us with a living example of real creative integrity.

Something that comes to mind: for an artist who has reached the level of magazine articles and museum collections, you’d think she was ready to start her own design house. This is the curious place of an artist and creative labor in today’s economy. It’s simply not enough, even with full recognition. Trask’s name should be well known and collected among people who enjoy jewelry, as was Lalique, Tiffany or Jensen in their day. Trask should be raking it in and changing the way we look at ornament.  However, any sensible placement as top market and the pride of the region where she works is prevented by the mean average of the global market.  Though she should be able to ask anything she likes for her work, the scale of the market – its ability to import matching manufacturing but from a differing relative economy – controls the ceiling of prices, limiting recognition and reward for artistry in jewelry.  Today top market jewelry, regardless of genius, is based primarily on the raw value of materials and somewhat in the perceived value of branding.  In order to see natural innovation and real creativity surround our lives again, we would start choosing our local artisans for every service possible, a priority shift of buying less and paying higher prices for better goods. This would transform the way work is done overseas as well. Encouraging regional development – anywhere in the world – is accomplished by using one’s good taste and sensibility to choose goods that exhibit the human touch and essentially benefit the growth of culture.

One of her artist statements, for ‘Unnatural Histories’:

“This work arose from my unending fascination with the material world.
Deliberate arrangements of flora and fauna, mineral and vegetal, side by side, delineate multiple subjective taxonomies. One defines a personal aesthetic; catalogs texture, color, and light in a formal and intuitive manner.

Another system, one of sly, unnatural histories, is derived from a curiosity about the material world and conceptual relationships; associative meanings and actual elemental materiality. By abstracting particular materials my intent is to create an impulse to pause, and look again. To consider. The results are oddly metaphoric arrangements on an intimate scale that invite examination.

In that moment of engagement, perhaps one might reclaim a sense of wonder, visceral delight, or simply curiosity as to the purpose of such meticulous arrangements.”

Artist’s Website: http://www.jennifertrask.com/

Brooke Stone’s Totems

A hero of mine, this jewel sculptor works out of Eugene, OR.  She uses the lost wax method and is a wax carver; her mature style is a breathtaking combination of nature and contemporary, experimental composition and rendering.  Using the metals as a palette her work stands on the strength of its artistry, distinguishing it from so much manufactured work that relies on metal content and stones to create value. In addition, her animal themes (regarded as totemic) speak of a close involvement between her imagination and the natural world, and so describe the artisan behind the pieces.  To top it off, Stone is alive, and deserves recognition, for she is true maker of talismans.

Her website is full of personal care, and includes an excellent photo overview of the lost wax process.

Brooke Stone Jewelry


McClelland Barclay

Among jewelers Barclay lived an interesting, though somewhat short life.  His jewelry was informed by the times, with Arts and Crafts principles, introducing affordable items with the modern decorative style of natural subjects and asymmetrical composition that was known elsewhere as Art Nouveau, il Liberte, Jugenstil and other variations on the theme of a new approach.  Taking a page from Georg Jensen’s style and working approach,  his silver jewelry frequently revolved around nature, with workshops using high-relief repousse dies to produce stamped serial units for matching sets of bracelets, necklaces, brooches and earrings.  He also created rhinestone pieces that bore a striking similarity to Cartier’s famous art deco emerald works.

He was industrious – the graduate from the Art Institute of Chicago branched into jewelry and decorative home items after success with his pin-up art, especially in commercial art.  The war interrupted his jewelry when he was appointed by the Navy to develop maritime camoflauge schemes in the pacific theatre, and shortly after Pearl Harbor he began to paint recruiting posters.  At the age of 52, on assignment near the Solomon Islands, his boat was torpedoed.