Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Inspired by Calder: Wired Objects...

I've been pouring over the Calder Jewelry book. It's a fantastic resource and has been very inspiring. I was really drawn to the pieces where Calder incorporated found objects into his work. I think there's a magic in elevating something "mundane" turning it into something truly divine.

Above are some examples of the pieces that sparked my creativity in my latest Calder-inspired piece. He took ordinary pieces of glass, mirror and broken pottery and transformed them into really gorgeous works of wearable art.

Medieval Crown from the National Treasury in Munich; picture by Sue Carbary.

The piece that I created was also inspired by Medieval crowns set with jewels and other objects. I love the rich patterning of the set stones. During the Byzantine era, Justinian and Theodora, made it illegal for anyone but royalty to own precious jewels. If you look at the mosaics in Ravenna, it is clear to see the effect: the consolidation of an empire's wealth in one place and a clear distinction of status.

"The Pauper's Crown"

The above crown is what I made. I used the same techniques I used creating the wire-woven pendants also inspired by Calder. CLICK HERE to see the post about them. The frame of the crown is made of woven brass and bronze wire and is embellished by pieces of Roman Glass. The pieces of the excavated Roman Glass still have traces of their unearthing and glitter with the iridescence of being ancient. Some float in an inlay design and others are wired on top of the woven, structural parts of the crown. It's relatively "small" for a crown and is meant to sit, perched atop a head... almost tiara-style.

I call it, "The Pauper's Crown". It's interesting to note that many of the jewelry pieces made by Calder out of wire and small bits of metal were because he was working with scraps from his bigger sculptures or that it was during wartime and metal was hard to come by. So, it's not just about replicating the feel of "primitive" art or ethnic body adornment, but that he was working with what was available.

I also gave it that title, because while Roman Glass is certainly pricey nowadays, the glass comes from ancient dumps. I love that something thrown away, millennia ago, is finding a cherished second life. We treasure it because it is rare and ancient and relatively expensive; its beauty comes from being old.

Above is a detail of the wired Roman Glass. I don't think the pictures do the glass justice, as there is a shimmer on the glass that simply refused to be captured by the camera today. One of the things that I really liked about creating this particular Calder-inspired piece is that it gave my arms and ears a rest from the hammering. It's true that the wire can be hard on the hands, especially with all the weaving, but it was significantly more quiet. I was also able to make this crown come to life with simple tools and supplies already on-hand. I felt all like Calder, using what was around.

18 comments:

kate mckinnon said...

Beautiful, Andrew, I can't wait to see it in person.

Karen Dougherty said...

I adore the Calder book! I like what you made!

Heidi said...

Such a magnificent piece! I'd love to see it on someone's head :D

Patty said...

I can see why those first pieces captured you - me too. Your crown is amazing!

peggy aplSEEDS said...

wonderful crown. the Roman glass fits perfectly with the wire.

Cory said...

Love, love, love, the crown...it is magical.

fireflymyst said...

Awesome crown, Andrew!!!

Love the details:)

Kathi Jablonski said...

Love this Calder look.

Alice said...

Andrew, you outdid yourself here. What a fantastic piece! And I love the little history lesson.

Roberta said...

Being in the desert has really inspired you and moved you into a new direction with your work.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Awesome. Did you drill the glass yourself?

Andrew Thornton said...

Nope! It came pre-drilled.

sandi m said...

Andrew,
This turned out awesome! And what a perfect name.
With you and Kate doing all this Calder stuff, think I need to drag out my book and start wrapping and hammering.

jamberry_song said...

It's very beautiful. I like the mixture of colors; the Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen's one, that is) would have worn something like this, I think. :)

I also love how you can take an influence and totally do your own thing with it.

babapaul said...

Andrew, the crown in lovely!

Sally Anderson said...

It's beautiful, Andrew! And amazing, too. I wish I could see it in person!

belvedere beads said...

I have a terrible, wonderful fascination with crowns. Yours is incredible. Thanks for sharing.

Melissa J. Lee said...

Oh, Andrew - is that gorgeous! The best use of the increasingly popular Roman Glass beads that I've seen. Mmm.