Celestial Volume 39.4

NU WA, THE CREATOR PENDANT by Cynthia Toops, metalwork by Nancy Bonnema, of micro mosaic polymer clay, sterling silver and old steel caliper, on a sterling silver chain, 2016.  Photograph by Doug Yaple. Background:  PISMIS 24.  Photograph courtesy of NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain). Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble).

NU WA, THE CREATOR PENDANT by Cynthia Toops, metalwork by Nancy Bonnema, of micro mosaic polymer clay, sterling silver and old steel caliper, on a sterling silver chain, 2016. Photograph by Doug Yaple. Background: PISMIS 24. Photograph courtesy of NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain). Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble).

Humans have always gazed at the heavens with wonder and awe. The sky, with its endless shifts in light and mood, inspires fear and faith, science and fantasy. The gods of nearly all religions dwell in the endless, unfathomable worlds beyond our little planet, as do the extraterrestrial civilizations described by science fiction writers. Even as astrophysicists study space and explain what they know, the celestial world remains tantalizingly mysterious to most of us. And thank goodness for that.

      In times of personal or societal turmoil, we turn to the sky with its infinite possibility and dream of worlds beyond our own. The artists in “Celestial: Comets, Cupids, and Other Heavenly Bodies,” a recent exhibition (February 8 - 28, 2017) at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery, in Seattle, Washington, were inspired by shooting stars and blue moons, meteors and cloud patterns, origin myths and the zodiac, time traveling and communication with other worlds. The exhibition was a delightful antidote to the dark skies of mid winter and dark horizons everywhere. 

The exhibition included the work of twenty-two artists mostly from the United States and Canada. With jewelry displayed on reproductions of celestial maps, the show looked like part of a stylish observatory display, as though the jewelry represented miniature solar systems for us to study. Jan Smith’s exquisitely crafted enamel and silver neckpieces suggest tranquil blue landscapes on other planets. Plants and animals could live on these welcoming orbs. At a time when our earth’s environment is increasingly fragile, Smith’s Oort Cloud and Once in a Blue Moon offer hope for worlds with still pristine blue waters and clear skies.

METEORITE LANDING RING by Checha Sokolovic of sterling silver, patina, charcoal, cement, dye, and resin, 7.0 x 3.2 x 5.1 centimeters, 2016. Photograph by Barbara Cohen. UNIVERSE RING by Jennifer Merchant of acrylic, fine silver leaf, silver, glitter, and printed photographs, top measures 3.2 x 2.2 centimeters, 2016. Photograph by Jennifer Merchant. RADIANT CUFF by Wolfgang Vaatz of oxidized sterling silver, eighteen karat yellow gold and diamond, 2016. Photograph by Wolfgang Vaatz.

      Cynthia Toops, noted for her work in polymer clay micro mosaic, created narrative pieces based on myths about the heavens. Her pendant Nu Wa, The Creator is named for a goddess from Chinese mythology with a human face and a snake’s body. Nu Wa is the goddess of order and she also created humans. One of her heroic acts was to stop the heavens from collapsing onto earth. Toops collaborated with metalsmith Nancy Bonnema to make the piece.

Checha Sokolovic’s work incorporates treated charcoal used as gemstones. Meteorite Landing is a sterling silver and cement ring with a hunk of treated charcoal displayed like treasure. Meteorites that land on earth are in fact treated like precious rocks, and Sokolovic’s work raises questions about beauty and exactly what makes a material precious. Jennifer Merchant’s acrylic-based necklace and ring included bits of space photography. Merchant excels at building layers of acrylic, fine silver leaf, silver, and glitter all in the service of creating depth. For these pieces she also used snippets of photographs taken through the Hubble Space Telescope. Her necklace and ring, both called Universe, are glimpses of infinity.

Some of the most striking work was abstract in design but rich with cosmic allusion. Carla Pennie McBride’s several pieces are studies in black and white, positive and negative space. Light and Dark Necklace is a translucent epoxy resin sphere held in place by a chain of beads made from black lava. It is an elegant piece of jewelry as well as a poetic reference to the interdependence of our rocky planet and the life-giving atmosphere that surrounds us.

      Then there is Kirk Lang, who found a real meteorite to work into his brooches. Lang’s work is formal and well made and the hexagonal shape of his brooches suggests clusters of atoms and molecules, or other scientific phenomena made visible. Crafted of titanium, gold, diamonds, and meteorite, Lang’s work also refers to the preciousness of materials. In this case, shards of meteorites are as valuable and beautiful as diamonds and gold.

Nadine Kariya mined Greek mythology for inspiration, and made rings and neckpieces referring to Athena, Aphrodite and Ganymede, a Trojan prince who Zeus transformed into an eagle. Like heroes from all classical mythologies, the Greek gods travel between Earth and the heavens at will. With its classical grandeur, Kariya’s work could easily be worn by the gods of any culture.

MOONBEAM ANTHEM 1: BOWIE (obverse, reverse) by emiko oye of LEGO in fine and Argentium silver, and stainless steel pin. 10.8 x 9.53 x 2.54 centimeters. Photograph by Daniel Fox, Lumina Studio.

      There was work in the show representing shooting stars, the signs of the zodiac, and planets belted by outer rings, in the manner of Saturn. For wit, however, it is impossible to improve on pieces by Jana Brevick and emiko oye. Brevick has for many years made work about robotics, extraterrestrial communication and any number of other subjects sparked by her fascination with science and outer space. Her silver brooch/pendant Tracking Heartbeats resembles a miniature radio tower perched on a scooped out antennae dish. You can imagine it floating through space listening, perhaps indefinitely, for a message from another world.

Artist emiko oye infuses smart design with pop culture in a way that was perfectly apropos to this exhibition. Using purple and black LEGO pieces, she made brooches that resemble tiny space ships. Like the galaxy crossing space ships in Star Trek, her LEGO transporters are all right angles and diamond shapes. San Francisco-based oye is known for creating cheerful jewelry out of the bright plastic toy bricks. But for this show she also added song lyrics about the eternal appeal of looking beyond Earth for inspiration. On the backs of the brooches she inscribed lyrics from David Bowie, Prince, Depeche Mode and the character Hedwig, in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Bowie and Prince, who both died in 2016, sometimes presented themselves as messengers from other worlds. When times are tough on our planet, the musicians suggested, dream of better worlds far, far away. The jewelry in “Celestial” made it easy to dream.

 

RINGS BROOCH by Sara Wauzynski of sterling silver, eighteen karat gold, egg tempera on gesso, pearls ,and garnets, 2.75” x 1.5” x 1.25”.

 
 

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Robin Updike, a Seattle-based arts writer and a regular contributor to Ornament, is a longtime observer of the craft scene. Over the course of more than two decades she has reviewed many exhibitions at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery in Seattle and has always been impressed with the gallery’s themed, group shows. In this edition of Ornament Updike reviews a Facèré exhibition in which twenty-two jewelry artists made work about celestial bodies, both real and metaphorical. She let us know that the resulting show was “dreamy.”

Gallery Lulo Volume 39.2

The jewelry art gallery is a curated space where both environment and the objects on display are carefully cultivated to create a narrative atmosphere. It is the frame, the lens, which allows visitors to experience the work as parts of a great visual novel, rather than a chaotic array of disparate elements. This is the true beauty of an art gallery, beyond simply expressing the tastes of its owners. At Gallery Lulo in Healdsburg, this sweet spot of an impressive collection, with a love for the experience, has been achieved through the union of European minimalism with Californian casualness.

      Healdsburg itself is one of those interesting experiments in suburban renewal, a gentrified town whose Main Street is made up almost in its entirety of boutique shops and artisanal food restaurants. The density of start-ups is intense, with only a few signs of Healdsburg’s previous life poking out from underneath, such as an old Mexican family restaurant on one of its street corners.

Lulo is owned in a partnership by glass artist Karen Gilbert and Danish immigrant Katrina Schjerbeck. The two co-owners met through a mutual friend who attended the American Craft Council shows. Katrina had been assisting at her friend’s booth, and they decided to visit Karen in Healdsburg. It was a serendipitous moment; Katrina and her husband had been looking for a new place to live, and Healdsburg was a perfect match.

A multimedia exhibition arena, Gilbert and Schjerbeck include paintings, ceramics and other artforms seemingly not as additional wares, but as accents to the ambience which they are fostering. Used sparingly, they augment and frame the jewelry, which is good as the pieces and artists chosen for Lulo’s collection are delicate, tactile and sensitive. Anything more would be overwhelming, yet the gallery proprietors show sound presence of mind in ensuring that the jewelry stands out first and foremost.

RAW RUBY AND GOLD BROOCH by Petra Class. ENAMEL BROOCH WITH BEADED GLASS AND GARNETS by Karen Gilbert. TAGLIATELLE BRASS RING by Mia Hebib.

      White glass-covered cases contain numerous specimens, with multiple drawers that roll out smoothly on well-oiled mechanisms. The work itself is from jewelers around the globe. Though the gallery does not restrict itself to artists known for having a minimalist aesthetic, the pieces they sell tend to be along those lines.

As an example, take the bold gemstone jewelry of Petra Class. Class’s focus is her lapidary work, where she often uses outlandish segments of precious and semiprecious stones encased in gold. Instead of using small rubies as accents in a ring or bracelet, she uses a whole flat sheet of ruby for a brooch. The ruby is both canvas and painting, where Class lets the grain of the raw stone become the visual palette across which the eyes dance. While that piece is representative of her oeuvre, she also has more understated jewelry, where a series of gold-encapsulated aquamarines or emeralds, linked by chain, become a bangle.

There are a number of jewelers whose works might not be found at other galleries, making this a treasure for those seeking something simple and sleek. Gilbert and Schjerbeck select an international representation of artists who often tend towards the abstract, with minimal use of gemstones. Such can be seen in the jewelry of Mia Hebib, a Bosnian-Croat who came to the United States to study at the Savannah College of Art & Design. She utilizes brass, polished and patinaed, as well as occasionally other metals, and from it derives undulating bands that warp and wend their way around each other. 

Her series entitled The Golden Years makes use of the gleaming polished surface to reflect one’s surroundings, which become part of the visual presentation of the piece. They arrive at that certain point of grace where a thing exhibits complicated attributes without becoming overwrought; like liquid sculpture in motion. For a certain type of person, they are exquisite. 

JEWELRY BY TZURI GUETA AND NAOMI MCINTOSH. Gueta creates jewelry from silicone-Injected lace. Mcintosh uses CAD to create designs on a sheet of wood, which she then removes via laser-cutting. Photograph by Robert K. Liu/Ornament Magazine.

Naomi Mcintosh’s use of wood in jewelry brings together technology and aesthetic into a razor’s edge balance. Mcintosh takes sheets of wood and then uses CAD and hand-drawn shapes to create her little repetitive forms, which she then excises from the sheet through laser-cutting. Strung on a dual strand of elastic to create tension, the asymmetric pieces spiral around each other in an endless reverberation. It is mesmerizing, and easy to wear: light, flexible and visibly bold.

“We love to see materials used in ways that speak to the tradition of the handmade, but has an aesthetic expression that makes the work relevant in the world of design and art—so a balance of the two, however abstract this may seem, is I believe what defines the pieces we are drawn to.” Schjerbeck explains.

KATRINA SCHJERBECK AND KAREN GILBERT. 

KATRINA SCHJERBECK AND KAREN GILBERT. 

The two gallery owners have learned from their interactions with customers, which has led to a subtle shift in the pieces they sell. “Having had the gallery in Healdsburg and understanding our audience and clients has also taken us in a direction that is lighter in heart —more color, movement, wear ability—than darker, larger conceptual pieces,” is how Schjerbeck reminisces on the topic. The impact of the client on the creative dynamic is always a complicated one of give and take.

Being a business goes beyond the customer to being part of the community. Healdsburg’s gentrification, while it has brought in a lot of money, also has significantly changed its character. While Lulo is a fairly new addition, Gilbert and Schjerbeck are comfortable with the knowledge that they are contributing to the town’s traditional values.

“The community is appreciative that a space exists which extends the idea of its cultural integrity,” Schjerbeck remarks. “In light of the wealth which has recently come to Healdsburg on a much larger scale, sustainable communal values are extremely important to the town. We maintain a family business which features regional artists, alongside challenging and avant-garde work—a business inclusive to both locals and tourists and outside the mainstream norm in wine country.”

Gilbert is in the unique position of being a jeweler and glassmaker in addition to her gallery duties, with her work also carried by Lulo. Saddling both realms requires a delicate balancing act which she finds rewarding. “I work in my studio on weekends and here and there during the week,” she muses. “I am in the gallery a couple times a week and at SkLO (her glassmaking company) for day to day operations. It is a busy schedule but it feeds my creativity.”

EXHIBITION ROOM ADJACENT TO GALLERY LULO’S ENTRANCE, with cases containing jewelry. Photograph by Adza Aubry.

As an artist, and in running her own design firm, Gilbert has the advantage of being continually exposed to new work, making her a headhunter of sorts for Lulo. “I have the privilege of working in several fields and it gives me insight into what is happening in the art world and the design world,” Gilbert explains. “With SkLO I am traveling around the country and looking at innovative furniture, lighting and accessories. I think a lot about the choices people make to what they want in their home and what is worthy of buying and living with. This helps keep us aware of the work we show in a greater context.”

Good galleries provide an essential function to the dissemination of art. A monolithic group, viewed from the outside, is impenetrable; in this case, any branch of craft media. Sifting through hundreds of artists is a delightful process, but one that few truly have the patience or drive to achieve. A gallery is not just a place to purchase works of beauty; it is an aesthetic collection steered by the sensibility of its curators. To wit, it is a living, breathing ecosystem of art. It is in this vital purpose that Gallery Lulo flourishes, in all its distinct character.

Visit gallerylulo.com for more information on the Gallery. Lulo exhibits new work by jeweler and sculptor Eric Silva in December.

 

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Patrick R. Benesh-Liu is Associate Editor of Ornament and continues to find time to enjoy craft in between writing, travel and tech support. Earlier in 2016 he visited Gallery Lulo in Healdsburg, where he took great delight in the gallery’s impeccable taste and delicate arrangement. This issue he writes on recent MFA graduate Peter Antor, who he crossed paths with at the 2015 SNAG Conference. Benesh-Liu found much to appreciate in Antor, from his views on personal adornment to his thoughtful ruminations on beauty in architecture and design. As Ornament’s reporter, he also provides a zesty compilation of the latest craft News, where you can find out what is happening with art to wear in the global neighborhood.

Lee Marraccini Volume 39.1

AQUA DOLCE NECKLACE of eighteen karat yellow gold set with natural surface and faceted aquamarines, 40.64 x 5.08 x .64 centimeters, 2010. Photographs by Pam Perugi Marraccini.

 

On a mid-April morning Lee Marraccini is in his element, talking about his work in his shop, Angelo Jewelry, which he opened in 1998 in the old Michie Building on the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia. Wearing gloves with their tips cut off, Marraccini shows off a ring featuring handcarved mother of pearl with eighteen karat gold and silver and diamond accents. The piece is stunning in its simplicity and depth—like the jewelry equivalent of Venus on a half shell.

ANCIENT PEARL COLLECTION RING of eighteen karat yellow gold, fine silver and sterling silver with carved mother of pearl and inset diamond, 1.53 centimeters diameter, 2015.

      The ring is a part of Marraccini’s latest collection, which he has been developing over the past two years. The mother of pearl came from his wife, Pam Perugi Marraccini’s grandfather’s collection of materials. From Carrara, Italy, one of the marble centers of the world, stone sculptor Araldo Perugi came to America in the early 1900s. He worked on a number of projects in the northeast. One of the altars at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is inlaid with the same mother of pearl that forms the foundation for this new collection.

Marraccini points to its unusual thickness: “The shell creature must have been really big,” he surmises. He discovered that he could carve into it and not lose the pearlescent quality of the surface. He has made bracelets, pendants and other ornaments from these remnants of Araldo’s altarwork.

Turning to a set of chrysoprase earrings with sapphire accents, Marraccini points out how they have great movement. He carved the warm green mineral stone into matching ovals, setting them off in scroll frames. He prides himself on an exceptional ability to shape stones on a wheel. That special talent has led to jewelry that is warm, clean, linear—and playful.

Marraccini has just returned from the American Craft Council show in St. Paul, Minnesota, which he feels is one of the most creative in the country. He enjoys meeting local artists from the greater St. Paul/Minneapolis area whom he does not see at other shows. “It’s good to see younger people coming back into the trade,” he states.

EARRINGS of carved green chrysoprase with faceted blue sapphires and diamonds in hand-fabricated eighteen karat yellow gold, 5.33 x 1.78 centimeters, 2013.

      One of the artist’s favorite gatherings is the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) GemFair held every winter in Tucson, Arizona. As a “serious rock fanatic,” Marraccini can satisfy his jones for stones in a major way. “You usually end up buying something you weren’t planning on buying,” he says, “but it always works out.” He describes the expanse of the show with awe, the way the fair spills out from the convention center into the streets. “You can get anything from a twenty-five-cent pyrite to a piece of fossilized tree,” he reports, adding, “The hard part is not spending money.”

The show, Marraccini has found, is a “kick starter” for design. “You come across a stone you’ve never seen before or an abundance of a stone you weren’t able to obtain in the past.” Several of his lines have started with Tucson finds. About ten years ago, for example, he started working with natural surface lines, picking out stones whose surfaces he could highlight without cutting. The Dolce series was born. “The Tucson show was key,” he says, “because I could find rough stones.”

Looking at a bracelet from the Dolce collection in one of the cases in his shop, Marraccini lists the six natural stones in the line-up: aqua, peridot, amethyst, citrine, tourmaline, and garnet. The stones have been laid over mother of pearl. “You can see the juiciness of the piece—that’s why I call it dolce, it’s sweet like rock candy.” He notes that to create such a piece you need to have a level surface, but enough saturation of color. “It can’t be too translucent,” he explains.

SPRING GOLD BRACELET of eighteen karat yellow gold with inlaid natural black jade and flushed set black and white diamonds, 16.51 x 1.27 x .64 centimeters, 1995.

      While recognizing that the work and travel that goes into participating in fairs may not always bear the financial rewards he seeks, Marraccini loves meeting up with close friends to talk art and business. These trips also double as scouting expeditions. His shop in Charlottesville carries the jewelry of more than twenty artists, offering a wide-ranging showcase of contemporary jewelry design from across the U.S. Featured jewelers include Belle Brooke, Reiko Ishiyama, Paul Morelli, Judith Neugebauer, Jayne Redman, Bree Richey, and David Urso. The work of several Charlottesville-area artists is also on display, including that of Tavia Brown and Gabriel Orfiesh.

Marraccini’s wife Pam is director of Angelo Jewelry. Her photographs of Italy are hung on the walls. She made a living as a wedding photographer, but gave it up after developing shoulder issues. Since the arrival of grandchildren, the couple has limited their travels to going “where they are.” Daughter Marisa is a postdoctoral fellow in clinical psychology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Their son Marco works for an architecture firm in Culver City, California.

Marraccini and his son collaborated on the MarcoLee collection. They were interested in trying 3-D printing. With Marco’s familiarity with the CAD design system, they were able to create a line of intricate and intriguing pieces. An eighteen karat yellow gold and oxidized sterling silver icosahedron pendant with turquoise and rubies brings to mind the designs of M.C. Escher. Marraccini uses a company in New Jersey to do the casting; “I send them the sketch, they send back the design; I tweak it and then they cast it.” The process is expensive, but to get someone to carve it in wax is becoming increasingly difficult.

MARCO LEE COLLECTION ICOSAHEDRON PENDANT of oxidized sterling silver and eighteen karat yellow gold set with sleeping beauty turquoise and rubies, CAD designed and 3-D printed, 2.39 x 2.79 centimeters, 2012.

      A lot of Marraccini’s work remains hands-on, as a trip to his studio proves. Located in a line of brick buildings by the railroad track about a block or so behind his shop, the space is filled with the accoutrements of a full-blown jewelrymaking operation—benches, diamond saws, polishers, drawers of stones, stations for soldering and for other parts of the jewelrymaking process. On one table is an assortment of washers purchased from Hoover and Strong that Marraccini has incorporated into his work.

In speaking about the jewelry business, Marraccini traces the ups and downs. He began to see the beginning of a downturn in 2000 when several of the stores that carried his work closed. At the time, he had a bustling studio with as many as nine people working for him, plus a couple of apprentices. A series of setbacks, including having his jewelry stolen while at a fair in Winter Park, Florida, led him to begin paring down his operation.

Today, the team consists of Marraccini and Carol Rohmann Greene. He also lends space to jeweler Avery Groves who lives in nearby Afton, Virginia. While Marraccini misses his crew, which included an in-house caster, he continues to design like crazy, turning to a blackboard in the studio to work out new combinations.

CAROL ROHMANN GREENE, Marraccini’s assistant, working at her bench.

      “I’m really passionate about the jewelry I’m making now,” Marraccini states, even as he acknowledges that the winds of commerce blow hot and cold. His store is doing well this year, which allows him to design more and continue to attend shows. He credits his wife with helping to turn the business around. He also does a “decent amount” of custom work and offers general repairs, resizing and laser welding, as well as inlay work.

Marraccini’s journey began in 1947 in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, just south of Pittsburgh in the Monongahela River Valley. He grew up above Angelo’s Bar, which was owned and run by his father, Angelo Marraccini. After his father passed away in 1959, his mother took over the bar “and kept it.”

Marraccini graduated from Penn State in math education. He taught at the North Bethesda Junior High School. Not long after he married Pam, a third grade teacher, in 1972, she decided to take a class in pottery at an art studio in Washington, D.C. Wanting to accompany her through the dark city streets, Marraccini enrolled in the only other available class: jewelry. That is how he got started, learning the ropes from silversmith Dorothy K. Gordon, who specialized in hollowware.

Marraccini considers his “main talent” to be “designing by parts.” Starting with sketches on the blackboard, he develops concepts for new pieces and watches them “metamorphose” through metal manipulation, fabrication, casting, and stone inlay.

      In 1973, the Marraccinis took off in their van, outfitting it with a bed and camp stove. “You would call us hippies now,” Marraccini notes, “but we didn’t consider ourselves that back then.” At one point they went to visit a friend in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico and ended up staying for three months, taking courses at the Escuela de Bellas Artes, an art school housed in the cloister of a former convent. “For thirty-two dollars a month, you could take four full-time art classes,” Marraccini recalls. Having never attended art school, he signed up for jewelry, drawing, guitar, and ballet. “Why not?” he thought at the time.

When things started to get a little crazy in Mexico, the pair returned to the East Coast. On their travels, they had met some friends who lived in West Virginia so they set up camp in Paw Paw, a small town located on a bend of the Potomac River “in the middle of nowhere.” They took up organic gardening and barely survived.

 

BLACK & WHITE COLLECTION ELEMENTS of eighteen karat yellow gold and sterling silver set with natural black jade and mother of pearl inlay, ranging in size from .64 to 1.91 x .95 centimeters, 2006.

 

      It was at that point that Marraccini made his fateful decision: to figure out how to make jewelry that he wanted to make and that people would want to buy. He made a commitment to this vision, stuck with it, and began to gain traction. He launched Moondance Silver and began making the rounds of craft shows. Around this time, West Virginia was becoming “a little too wild.” Floods and harsh weather, along with isolation, inspired the pair to seek out a new place to set down roots. Pam suggested Charlottesville; they moved there in 1984.

While much of his learning took place while residing in Paw Paw, Marraccini had some terrific teachers along the way, including Heikki Seppa, Ronald Hayes Pearson, Robert Ebendorf, and James Meyer. He learned rendering from Ivy Ross and advanced stone-setting from Alan Revere, the latter in San Francisco in 1986.

LEE MARRACCINI AND PAM PERUGI MARRACCINI standing in front of their store, Angelo Jewelry.

      Marraccini considers his “main talent” to be “designing by parts.” Starting with sketches on the blackboard, he develops concepts for new pieces and watches them “metamorphose” through metal manipulation, fabrication, casting, and stone inlay. He combines gemstones, conflict-free diamonds and recycled gold in contemporary yet classic designs that have won him awards at craft shows.

Marraccini has always worked this way, even when he had a larger crew. He starts by identifying what he wants to accomplish and then proceeds to work on it, letting chance and change guide the design. “That’s the way I’ve designed my whole career. I can’t stop designing. I can design all day long. Anything.”

Charlottesville is a “sweet place,” Marraccini says, and he has developed a faithful following for his collections. He has been in the business for more than thirty-five years now; and although he is fond of quoting fellow jeweler Jacob Snow—“Setting stones in metal is a bad idea”—he has found a way to keep developing and to remain thrilled by the possibilities of the creative process.

 

STACKING RINGS 80’S COLLECTION of eighteen karat yellow gold set with diamonds, inlays and faceted stones, 5.75 centimeters, 1985.
ANCIENT PEARL COLLECTION EARRINGS of natural abalone shell, faceted blue sapphires, pink sapphires, and diamonds in hand-fabricated eighteen karat yellow gold, 3.2 centimeters diameter, 2014.
STONE COLLECTION RING of eighteen karat yellow gold bezel set red jasper with inset faceted red zircon on a sterling silver shank,
2.54 x 1.91 centimeters, 2009.

 

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On a visit with his daughter Emily and her family in Charlottesville, Virginia, in April, Carl Little paid a visit to Lee Marraccini at his shop and studio in the city’s pedestrian-friendly downtown center. Marraccini had just returned from an American Craft Council show in St. Paul, Minnesota. His belief that making jewelry should be “serious fun” for the wearer was evident in the work he shared during the interview. Little’s latest book, coauthored with his brother David, is Art of Acadia, which is being published to coincide with the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of Acadia National Park in Maine.