Tag Archives: create

Elizabeth Ngo: Antique Button Jewelry

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Niki Lunn and The Colors of Morro Bay

Seven Sisters Gallery is excited to welcome our newest artist, contemporary painter Niki Lunn. I asked Niki to talk a little bit about her thoughts on creativity, and her life as an artist.

Personally, I think that creativity resides in all of us. Perhaps some more than others, but unfortunately with the current education system that has evolved over hundreds of years in Europe and now the United States it is apparent to me that most artists had to fight against the system to remain creative as it is often the tide to ʻeducateʼ it right out of us.

Sunset Morro Bay Acrylic on canvas 48"x36"

Sunset Morro Bay
Acrylic on canvas, 48″x36″

Sadly, many talented children have not been rewarded for their free thinking artistic leanings, but rather persuaded over the years to postpone the urge to just go and paint, or write, or dance in order to follow a ʻmore reasonableʼ money making career.

My education was started in Yorkshire, England where I was born and moved into the U.S. system later on in High School and University. It was typical in the way that most of my classes and teachers praised efforts in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic equally in both countries. The pressure was always to ʻfit inʼ, make the grade and focus on a related career. My H.S. counselor told me after standardized tests that I was most likely to become a successful legal secretary. That was a shock for me and certainly not something I had any interest in, so I majored in a B.of Fine Art and Art History in college and of course minored in something ʻuseableʼ for later on-  marketing. After graduating I taught art for some years in the Michigan public system and later on in the Florida schools, always to find that at the end of every year I was in the principalʼs office hearing the words that funding had been cut and art and music were the first to go. But what I learned during this period of my life was important and I found myself going back to school to earn a M.S. in Psychology and Counseling. I wanted to help kids at a crucial stage in their educational development to really realize their dreams at an earlier stage than I did.

Fleet Returning 48"x24" Acrylic on canvas

Fleet Returning
Acrylic on canvas, 48″x24″

After another eight years in counseling I changed course again and did finally go into marketing and public relations. I was nearing the goal of incorporating artistic talents into an everyday job. Happily this led to creating my own company doing marketing for ʻadventure travelʼ companies. Suddenly everything changed and I was the one in control. I never worked in an office again and started traveling around the world doing what I loved- creative writing about adventurous, fun things to do in nature.

After meeting my husband, a private yacht captain, we traveled together throughout Europe and to many fascinating places that I would never have probably ventured to as a legal secretary! Throughout the last 24 years I have never lost my interest in art, if anything it was reaffirmed in every new location that I visited, seeing the art museums and their bounty of beautiful art collections as a perfect mirror to the culture that they represented.

Light has played an integral role in many of my pieces. It is true that the impressionists became my favorite genre of painting while I lived in France, it is easy to see why they painted the way that they did with that soft mellow light playing amid their landscapes. It influenced my work as well.  When in harsher light such as the Greek islands my colours became stronger and painting style more bold.

When I am not painting, I tend to be walking in nature since it is there that I find inspiration. Somehow it speaks to me in a universal language unhindered by borders or words and offers an unlimited range of colours and meanings to the eye of the beholder. As far as my own colour palette I like to use a rich combination of bright hues, trying to catch on canvas a glimpse of what nature offers us as a visual feast of happiness everyday.

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Sunset
Acrylic on canvas, 48″x24″

My favorite painting is always the next one that I am going to paint. I typically work at home, taking the ideas from memory and photos I may have taken to remind me of shapes and movements in nature that I liked. Although I did take a B.F.A in university, I can honestly say that it has been through trial and error and perseverance that has found me at where I am now. I am still learning and think that I always will be.

I know that if you let the spirit move you then your inner talent will emerge, whether be it in dance, creative writing or producing a painting.

Niki will be showing her work at Seven Sisters Gallery in Morro Bay, beginning with her opening reception at Art Walk Friday, June 14 from 5:00-8:00. Stop by to meet the artist, see her work and enjoy music and refreshments.

Rhonda Gauthier: Gifts of Art

Seven Sisters Gallery is currently showing the work of Rhonda Gauthier. A Fine Artist of Oil on Canvas, she describes herself as an American, Romantic, Impressionist Artist. Her oil paintings are primarily of the landscapes of California, Sante Fe, Texas and the South. When I asked her about how she chooses her subject, she explained.

“…actually “THEY” choose me.  Sounds corny but the idea is that something affects a part of that inside being and it wants to make a painting.  Be it a bit of color, a special lighting,  the grandeur of the vista, the agelessness of a Bison.  Within every bit of life and nature there is a certain something that touches each of us.  Poets write, musicians compose music, and artists paint.  We all express and interpret that which we experience.

I remember the day in Fort Worth, Texas. I was standing before a painting by Monet and “hearing” the words ,”This is what you are meant to do with your life.”  About a year later I took my first art lesson with Lynn Murphy and I’ve worked toward the goal of being the best painter I can be. That was almost 20 years ago. I remember all of my teachers and the special gifts of art they each shared with me.  In Giverny France I painted in Monet’s Garden. Walked where the Impressionist painters walked. Thank you to the late Gayle Bennett for your “gifts”. For me, there is no substitute for the euphoric aroma of oil paints. I open a tube of my oil paints and the images flow through my head /heart/hand. It’s magical and mystical …gifts from the Creator.

I am especially attracted to water.  Almost all of my paintings have water of some sort…everything from lakes, oceans, fountains, creeks.  As one painting is titled; water is The Essence Of Life.   The Essence Of LifeThat particular painting, The Essence Of Life was  painted while on an artist getaway to New Mexico.  I absolutely LOVE the red cliffs.  It is truly beautiful how a plain landscape is brought to life with the red colored cliffs.  And come dusk, the shadows created by the setting sun upon the crevices are just pure magic.  I wanted to share the beauty of the sparse land, the red cliffs and the skies which make us pull off the road and stand in awe.  I had my ideas and painted the painting but something was lacking.  Then it came to me like a bolt, water.  Must have water.  So the little creek and pool of water connected the entire paintings and brought everything together.

Another painting from the same area which is very dear to my heart is titled Always Here For You. Always Here For You This scene is an actual scene across from the Echo Amphitheater north of Abiquiu, New Mexico.  This was one time where I did not change anything.  It was painted as it exists in nature.  The two rock formations really do look like a couple standing there side by side.  The moment I saw the scene I knew what the painting would be and what the title would be…the rest was to simply to put the two together.

Rhonda Gauthier will be showing her work at Seven Sisters Gallery, in Morro Bay, California from May 1-May 26, 2013. You can also find her work online at SevenSistersGalleryCA.com

Please leave us comments. We’d love to hear about your experiences with Art. How has it informed your own life?

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.