I’ve been wanting to share with you the first of Art Bead Scene’s jewelry challenges of 2016. January’s inspiration was lovely: Landscape with Stars by Henri-Edmond Cross (1905-1908) and is a perfect example of the Neo-Impressionistic style he championed.
It is truly a stunning display. I’m especially taken with the detail in the night sky – how all those colors were mottled together with tiny little brushstrokes of each color. They all blend and merge to create a twinkling sky. Now our blog leaders made a big deal of the fact that the painting featured the Pantone colors of the year, which are pale pink and baby blue. Maybe that’s where I fell apart with this challenge – I hate that color combo and despite all the positive spin on the colors, they still make me gag. This made it difficult because I approach these challenges primarily on terms of color schemes. I like to find some way of pulling the colors into my jewelry while having a focal point that echoes that of the painting. I knew that I wanted the focal image of my necklace to be trees. I tried several times to work with the predominant colors but I hated everything I tried.
Finally I settled on a novel approach – instead of trying to recreate the painting, I focused on how the painting made me feel. It spoke to my heart of long winter nights, when the stars pierce the sky with cold light and illuminate the forest with silver hues. It spoke of shapes and forms… of a juxtaposition between warm earthy elements and stark cold sky. And then I knew what to do…. I had copper, I had nickel, I had a saw, and I loved trees. I could try to make my own metal pendant.
I cut a tree line from copper and soldered it to a nickel base plate, from which I had sawed out a willowy bare tree shape. Because I dislike shiny finish on my metal, I sanded everything down with several grades of sandpaper to give it a matte finish with a bit of swirly texture. I also added a bit of liver of sulfur to the copper trees to tone down the brightness. I still tried to introduce a bit of color to the necklace by adding navy czech glass beads to the chain. However it still wasn’t working and after several iterations, I finally settled on these petite clear glass beads with copper coating. They had a hint of sparkle reminiscent of starlight and the copper/silver combination in the beads pair nicely with the pendant. I enjoy mixing my metals and am pleased with how the cool nickel and warm copper tones lay together so well and they do hearken to the use of cool and warm tones in the painting.
Earrings are stylistically similar. I made long dangles with leftover chain from the necklace and added small drops of the crystal beads and silver spacers. Simple and elegant. This was a unique way for me to approach the challenge, but I appreciate these exercises for precisely this reason. Once I dropped the concerns with color, I could look at the shape and feel of the paining and create something that reminded me of what I loved about the scene. And it was a great chance for me to practice my new-found metalsmithing skills.
The timing of the share worked out perfectly as I’ve just returned from spending a long weekend at Spring Mill State Park, in the company of a winter forest. Lonely trees bare of leaves and scattered pines filled the trails and my senses these past few days and provided a sense of tranquility and inspiration for the days to come.
Blessings to you,