Tag Archives: bead

Pearls: Symbols of Wisdom

The pearl, highly valued as an object of beauty for many centuries, has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, admirable and valuable. The symbol of wisdom acquired through experience.

noun: pearl

  1.  
    a hard, lustrous spherical mass, typically white or bluish-gray, formed within the shell of a pearl oyster or other bivalve mollusk and highly prized as a gem.
  2.  
    a precious thing; the finest example of something.
    “the nation’s media were assembled to hear his pearls of wisdom

black-pearl copy

Unlike gemstones which are mined from the earth and then must be cut and polished to bring out their beauty, pearls are grown by live oysters, below the surface of the sea, and born complete.

A natural pearl begins its life as a foreign object becomes lodged in an oyster’s soft inner body where it cannot be expelled. The oyster responds by secreting a smooth, hard, crystalline substance (nacre) around the irritant in order to protect itself. Encasing the irritant with this silky, crystalline coating until a luminously elegant and lustrous gem, called a pearl, is formed.

How something so miraculous emerges, out of an oyster’s way of protecting itself, is one of nature’s loveliest surprises and explains how the pearl has come to symbolize wisdom acquired through experience.

While the most valuable pearls are perfectly round and smooth, many other interesting shapes also form and are known as Baroque pearls.

Baroque pearls, especially during the Renaissance times, have been valued for their sculptural inspiration. One example of this is the Canning Jewel, from the 16th century, which uses a large Baroque pearl as the body of a mermaid-esque figure.

the-canning-jewel

“The Canning Jewel is a sculptural pendant of the late Renaissance period, ascribed by some jewelry historians to Benvenuto Cellini, a celebrated sculptor, goldsmith, author and soldier of the Italian Renaissance. Around this period from the 15th to 17th centuries, baroque pearls in large quantities had reached the European markets, from the traditional pearl producing countries like the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and Gulf of Mannar, and also from the newly discovered pearl banks of the New World, in Venezuela, Colombia and Panama, but there was no demand for such pearls because of their irregular shapes, which would not fit into any type of existing jewelry at that time. Pearl dealers had large numbers of such irregular-shaped pearls in their stocks, not knowing what to do with their accumulated stocks. It was then that the enterprising jewelry craftsmen of the Renaissance period, came up with the idea, of incorporating these baroque pearls, together with other colored gemstones,  in various fancy shaped pendants; shapes that bore fruit in the fertile imagination of the craftsmen taking into consideration the unique shape of each baroque pearl. The result was a host of different pendants with a multitude of shapes such as animal and bird figures, bunches of flowers and fruits, monsters, dragons, mermaids and other mythical figures; the shape of the pendants being determined by the shape of the baroque pearls that were incorporated in them.” -http://www.internetstones.com/the-canning-jewel-india-viscount-earl.html

Today, Baroque pearls are a more affordable option than traditional, spherical pearls. And preferred by some for the way their irregular shapes inspire our imagination. But whatever your preference, from the spherical to the baroque, we’re sure you’ll enjoy our varied collection at Seven Sisters Gallery.

Advertisements

Elizabeth Ngo: Antique Button Jewelry

3BttnDrp

Elizabeth Ngo creates jewelry from historical works of art. Perhaps you yourself own one of these tiny historical pieces, thrown into a jar or the back of a drawer. You might have one or two tucked under your sofa cushion. The button. The simple fastener that fastens material and memories and generations. How many of us remember hours of entertainment sifting through button collections? Enjoying the feel of running our fingers through a pile spilled onto the floor. Marveling at the variety and detail. Turning to our siblings to say, “look at this one!” So often, as I stand with a customer, picking up this piece and that of the Ngo collection, I hear a story tied to memories of our mothers, our grandmothers, our younger selves.

Earrings-01CalandarImage-downsized

The simple button carries a sort of sacred quality that transports us to another time. Elizabeth Ngo retains that quality by creating with great respect and attention to detail. With a profound reverence for the historical significance of each piece, she maintains the integrity of the button by leaving the shank in tack. Setting the buttons in finely worked and beautifully detailed sterling silver to create wonderfully balanced rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Adding details of Swarovski crystals and semi-precious stones and the finest findings.

“I work mostly with the Victorian Glass, picturesque French Metals, carved pearls and hand painted enamel buttons from this period. They are all very unique works of art that speak about their time period. Preserving these buttons into unique pieces of jewelry is my way of putting the buttons back on the women.”

These elegant works of art reflect the era of the 1800’s in Europe. Whimsical characters, fleur de lis imagery, knights and battles, created with amazing enameling and intricate carving. Victorian glass, pearls and shells, ornate rhinestones and iridescent glass, all reflecting a time when art and history and handwork were highly revered. ring

The history of buttons goes back at least as far as the Satsumas, highly collectible ceramic buttons from Japan. Named for a historic ceramics center on the southernmost island of Japan, Satsumas were first made in the 17th century by Korean potters. These buttons were often painted in extraordinary detail, depicting miniature scenes from Japanese life and the natural world.

The brass picture buttons, which you’ll find in the Elizabeth Ngo collection, come from the Victorian era and are also highly collectible. Delightful pieces, stamped with charming images inspired by everything from operas to children’s books. Other picture buttons took their cues from nature (flora and fauna), the sciences (stars and moons), or mythology (cupids and fairies). 22-13-02

22-13-35Black glass buttons from the Victorian era came next. Initially, black buttons were made out of jet, a fossilized coal found near Whitby, England. But because of the high cost of jet, black glass was soon used as a replacement.

Some black glass buttons were molded to create reliefs of plants and animals, and detailed pictorials. Some of the buttons have reliefs of fabrics patterns; others have a stunning silver or iridescent luster. You might also find some that have been painted or enameled.

Explore our cases and join in discovering the stories behind these historical pieces. Once your inner sleuth is awoken, you might check out some of these great online resources to further your adventure:

Hammond Turner & Sons online collection: http://www.hammond-turner.com/

Keep Homestead online collection: http://keephomesteadmuseum.org/button.htm

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), London, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. They have an online button collection that you can view at: http://bit.ly/1rXwmIB

Field Guide to Antique Buttons and Vintage Glass http://www.grandmothersbuttons.com/Images/Interior/resources/gran_fieldguide_web2011.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From a Tiny Seed…

cream2

Seven Sisters Gallery is proud to carry the work of one of the Central Coasts finest creators of wearable art. Award winning Artisan, Susan Terese, creates off loom seed-bead weaving’s of necklaces and earrings. Susan has a passion for beading, which shows through her work and her generosity toward everyone associated with the art, including fellow beaders, lampwork artists, and all who love and wear her pieces.

Not only is bead weaving her passion, but she is also passionate about the beads themselves. All beads. From the tiny seed beads that form the framework of her pieces, to the incredible focal beads which define each creation.

I asked Susan to say a bit about that love and a bit about her process. In her own words…

“There’s glass, crystal, stone, bone, shell, horn, and many more different kinds of beads. Pretty much if it has a hole it can be used as a bead. While almost all beads are wonderful I do have a favorite. It’s none other than the lowly seed bead. These tiny guys are amazing and so fun to weave with. Seed beads are glass, and range in size, and have many different finishes: transparent, opaque, matte, luster, AB, and silver, copper, color and bronze lined.Can you imagine how they are produced? It boggles my mind. Mostly they come from Czechoslovakia (where they have been making them for 500 years or so) or since World War II, Japan. They are perfect for off loom weaving, which is what I do.

I am also very fond of American artisan lampwork beads. These are incredible one-of-kind glass beads made on a mandrel with a torch. That which starts as a thin glass rod is melted and formed into a beautiful bead. The imagination and skill of these artists is awesome. I enjoy supporting their efforts and buying their beads to use as focal pieces in my necklaces.

So this is my process. I start with a focal bead and let it speak to me. I start going through my stash to see what accent beads and seed beads I have that will compliment the focal. I think about the style of the focal…elegant, whimsical, earthy, geometric, vintage, retro, etc. Then I decide which weaving techniques to use. Then I usually go to the bead shop and spend money! And that’s the start.

Thblue1en it takes time to pick up those tiny seed beads with a needle and weave. Yup, it takes a long time. But that time is peaceful and meditative. It’s very fun to see the finished result. Most often it isn’t what I expected as the work evolves and takes on a life of its own. In a nutshell, seed beads make my world go round!”

Susan will be our guest artist February 13, 2015 during the Morro Bay Art Walk, at Seven Sisters Gallery on the Embarcadero. Come see her collection, talk with her about her work, and learn the many ways to wear her beaded Lariats. We’ll also have refreshments. Seven Sisters Gallery, 601 Embarcadero #8, in Morro Bay.

We look forward to seeing you. And we’d love to hear from you at our new Facebook page. Leave us a message, or just check in now and then to find out what’s new in about our store.

Bead For Life

One of my favorite parts of working with Artisan jewelry is getting to know the artists. It seems to be human nature to grow more fully human through the act of creation.

The ability to express oneself in a tangible way is a gift not only to those that experience the finished product, but also to the artist who experiences the process. That give and take inherent to the creative act is especially evident in the important work happening through an organization called BeadforLife. If you haven’t heard of them, you might want to check out their inspiring blog. The BeadforLife mission is to work toward lifting impoverished Africans out of poverty by connecting people from all over the world via the creative work of turning recycled paper into beautiful beads.

Merriam-Webster defines the word Create as:

  1. to bring into existence
  2. to invest with a new form, office, or rank
  3. to produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior
  4. to cause to happen as a result of one’s actions

And what could be a better example of this then the work brought about by BeadforLife? Uniting people, transforming what was once thought of as waste, empowering the disempowered, bringing life to communities that are struggling to survive.

I invite you to explore the blog, including the pages that suggest great ways to get involved. Check out the page on hosting a bead party or the one about teaching the BeadforLife curriculum, which is designed for those looking for a way to engage students in global poverty issues. Read the guest blog written by Dave Ensign, a BeadforLife trip participant. Maybe you’ll be inspired to get involved too. I know I am.

Not only does this organization provide a way for us to be involved in this good work, but they also provide a way for us to purchase their beautiful creations. You can find their jewelry, and other products, online at the BeadforLife website.