ORNAMENT Volume 29 No. 4

Features

Giselle Shepatin Confidence Without Limits. 
Folded Glass Beads An Islamic Innovation. 
Studio Jewelers of Salida, Colorado
Sydney Lynch The Medium of Memory. 
Darbury Stenderu Original and Imperfect. 
Jean Stark The Art of the Intricate. 
The Influence of Custom on Xhosa Beadwork.

Departments

Exhibition Bellevue Arts Museum. 
Artist Statement Gretchen Schields. 
Artist Statement Laura Fisher-Bonvallet. 
Ethnographic Arts Yemeni Necklaces.

 
 

While most people know her as a clothing designer, Giselle Shepatin still sees herself as the weightlifter who won the US National Championship eight times and set many American records. It is important to her to be both the woman who could lift hundreds of pounds overhead and the woman who makes garments that float and flow. The two occupations are intertwined, although they may not make sense to anyone else.

 

A product of workshops in Mesopotamia that in some cases manufactured glass objects undisturbed for three thousand years (Dubin 1987), the folded glass bead from the Islamic period has long been enigmatic. One can only surmise that it was perhaps a product of a mistake, a deliberate restatement of folding patterns found in natural agates (Allen 1998), or possibly created as a protective eye in times of upheaval. It was popular among a part of the population of Mesopotamia, as well as a great part of the known world.

 

When I was in Salida in 2005 to speak at the COMA Conference (Colorado Metalsmiths Association), I had the opportunity to visit four of the resident jewelers’ studios in town, out of about ten who live there or nearby.With a population of less than six thousand, there are at least two galleries with onsite workshops. Perhaps a record for the number of working jewelers per capita, two have been established names for decades, one has virtually a factory-level workshop and the fourth is a new emigrant from California, with a remarkably well-equipped studio.

 

Best known for her compositions of vibrant, irregular stones set in gold grids or concentric circles that seem to sway and throb asymmetrically to a primitive beat, Sydney Lynch has over the past year developed a new facet of her art—or, perhaps more accurately, has revisited an aesthetic only explored in her earliest work. Relying for much of their visual appeal on a soft contrast of oxidized sterling silver and eighteen karat gold, the new brooches, pendants and earrings are tonally and coloristically subtler.

 

In Seattle, people who admire Darbury Stenderu’s one-of-a-kind clothing and textiles are known to alter their downtown walking routes by a few blocks just to pass Stenderu’s big, broad, old-fashioned shop windows and see what Stenderu has been up to lately. The windows inevitably showcase a few well-chosen garments artfully draped on headless, minimalist dress forms. Perhaps today there is a mid-calf length silk, bias-cut sheath in a swirling, elaborate, abstract print of sea green and azure blue. Perhaps it has a deep v-neck and is displayed as a second layer over a bias-cut, lingerie-strapped slip in a color that looks like the bluest Mediterranean sky.