ORNAMENT Volume 31 No. 5

Art Nouveau Jewelry. Preserving Nature's Beauty
Starr Hagenbring. Coats of Many Colors
Georgia's Ring Shows. Pretty Cocky Stuff
Santa Fe Weaving Gallery. Supporting the Art of Dress
Ken Bova. A Soft Tech Methodology
Native American Silversmiths & The Curio Trade
Paithani Saris. An Indian Textile Tradition
Roman Mosaic Face Plaques and Beads


The Art Nouveau movement, which flourished in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, found its fullest expression in poster art, architecture and the decorative arts, including jewelry. Flamboyant and fantastical, the Art Nouveau style was characterized by whiplash curves, asymmetric design, dramatic imagery, and vivid symbolism.


She pulls out a jacket she calls The Conversation Piece. It is hip-length and made of panels of mid-weight silk. The overall shape of the jacket is a modified trapeze with simple, kimonostyle lapels. Like Jacob’s Coat of Many Colors, it seems to be made of numerous fabrics in various colors, with plenty of gold, rich brown, black, and purple. But what makes the coat especially unusual are the three women’s faces Starr Hagenbring has painted onto the body of the jacket. The faces are perhaps slightly larger than life-sized and have the tranquil demeanor and classical proportions of Italian Renaissance portraits.


When jeweler Mary Hallam Pearse arrived at the University of Georgia in 2005, she found an odd collection of rings tucked away on glass shelves in a vintage wooden display case along a back wall in the jewelry and metalwork studio, largely obscured by dust. Inside were hundreds of rings with faded tags listing quirky titles and names of artists—many of whom are now considered leaders in the field, such as Jamie Bennett, Harlan Butt, the late Ken Cory, Robert Ebendorf, Susan Kingsley, Rod McCormick, Bruce Metcalf, Jim Meyer, Barbara Walter, and Nancy Worden.


Showing through April 19, 2009, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian’s newest exhibition, From the Railroad to Route 66: The Native American Curio Trade in New Mexico, and its accompanying catalog are the result of more than fifteen years’ research by museum director Jonathan Batkin.


An Indian textile tradition traversing centuries, the grandeur of Paithani silk saris is striking —bright warm colors of parrot green, shocking pink teamed with expansive pallavs (the visible end of the sari which hangs loose on the back when draped (usually three-fourths of a meter or more in length), with borders in zari (golden threads). Its shimmering gold pallav and border is extravagantly peppered with silken motifs, painstakingly worked by hand. Matching the body of the sari is twin-colored silk, creating a double-shaded effect.