Art & Image
Life & Style




Thematic Essay | Handwork

The Art of What You Hold

By Franny Evans
January 7, 2009
Today, the ability to visualize beauty and meaning in design is intrinsic to contemporary handwork, lapidary, art couture, jewelry and bead making arts. 
Las Hilanderas (The Spinners)
Las Hilanderas (The Spinners) -Diego Velazquez (c1657)

The design of the ancient bead had powerful representational implications at a time when it was essential to communicate –straightforward –the importance of who you were. It was a gesture, an invocation, or prayer, which said –this represents the power of my spirit, and it is mine to hold.

A stone with a hole through its center, balanced on a string, had a minimum of artifice, and was implicitly understood, and embraced. Its outline, color, and shape made an immediate impression of what it meant to be human.

It was something to hold and wear, a fundamental belonging that could be handed down for generations, traded, or exchanged as a gift.

It was a metaphorical arrangement more powerful than words. It was a timeless motif of circles, waves, stratifications, crisscrossing stripes, and sensation-saturating colors, balanced on an inviolable thread of myth.

It was an ornament that described lunar and solar intervals with balanced geometric outlines, links, threads, patterned sequences, colors, and textures, which suggested the vortex of psychic energies, meanings, and shared interpretations that hold people together.

As a necklace, it defined one’s devotion to materials that evoked a minimalist purity of design. Its elements such as arc, spiral, circle, interconnecting planes, lines, and abstract spaces could be reinvented and re-designed, taken apart and restrung over and over again, while retaining an original clarity and power.

These cadenced patterns and symbolic arrangements, which were traditionally the ornament-like basis of textile, lapidary, metalwork, and pottery design, reinforced the power of spirit as a corollary to symbolic art.

A Girl Mending
A Girl Mending - Edmund C. Tarbell (1906)

Today, the ability to visualize beauty and meaning in design is intrinsic to contemporary handwork, lapidary, art couture, jewelry and bead making arts. Through an interlacing of past and present colors, shapes, arabesques, florals, mosaics, and facets, the handmade, personal dimension of bead design has again been reinvented.

With transparent glazes, surfaces that curve and fold, three-dimensional detail, contrasts of texture and shape, and tone-on-tone color layering, a glass bead maker revives the magical relationship of personal spiritual power, image, and design.

The lapidary artist studies the possible alterations of a stone to develop contrasts of texture and color, surface and refraction, contour and depth. The enamel, metal, pâte de verre, fused glass, lampwork, ceramic, and polymer clay bead maker, reveals the interaction of overlapping surfaces, layered translucent and opaque colors, and geometric lines.

When opals, pearls, colored stones, clay, gold, silver, crystal, enamel, shell, wood, paper, or glass, are strung on silk thread, there is an immediate correspondence to a personal design that revolves around thousands of years of artistic tradition and illustrates the deep impact of bead design on everyday, ordinary life.

Whatever you do on a day-to-day basis, the mosaic of failure and success, the periodicity of foolishness and wisdom, style and status, depends on the rhythmic cycles of nature. The art of what you hold is the creative nature within, the natural and underlying essence of what it means to be human.

Hold it in the light; turn it between your fingers, and watch it transform itself into poetry. Follow its natural form, its positive and negative movements, its colors that change in proportions of light, depth, and focus. Reinvent yourself along its thread of myth, its intricate details, its opalescent lights and twilight roses, its satin textures and illuminated patinas. Reassemble it as a moment in a dream, a moment that lasts forever.

Font Size:  Font Larger   Font Smaller   |   Print Print   |   Email This Email This   |   Contact Us Contact Us   |   RSS Feeds RSS Feeds
Add to Digg
Add to StumbleUpon
Add to Delicious
Add to Google
Add to Newsvine