ORNAMENT Volume 36 No. 3

Lola Brooks. The Seductive Beauty of Heartbreak and Desire
Smithsonian Craft Show 2013
Southeastern European Dress. All Things Must Pass
Eleanor Moty. A Master Metalsmith
Inside the Studio. Photography of Personal Adornment
Jewelry Arts. Adornments & Delights
Costume Arts. The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design
Fiber Arts. Bojagi Cloth, Color & Beyond by Chunghie Lee
Exhibition. Women Working Words
Communities. Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference
Metal Arts. Japanese Tobacco Pouch Ornaments


Lola Brooks is a little intimidating. She is tall and thin, with features that are angular, but delicate. Dark curls frame her pale skin and her eyes are hidden behind oversized rhinestone glasses (one of about a hundred vintage pairs she stores in a mock python-skin-covered suitcase). One arm is covered with tattoos of thorny roses, diamonds, bows, and a heart with a dagger. Her attire is remarkably precise.


The Smithsonian Craft Show returns for another year to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., as its handsome locus. One of the preeminent craft shows of the country, it is a most suitable pageant of the arts; as springtime visits the city, the appearance of handmade beauty seems to aptly coincide. A counterpart to the blooming of flowers outside the Museum, inside the hall jewelry, clothing, ceramic, wood, and glass burst forth representing some of the best artisans of the United States. Paper art, furniture, decorative fiber, metals, and mixed media round out the branches of craft for collecting.


Here over the millennia, traceable to the Paleolithic age, both distinctive and diverse cultures arose in the twelve small countries (subjects of the exhibition at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, “Resplendent Dress from Southeastern Europe: A History in Layers”) now called Southeastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and the Slovak Republic.


A line of peaks and valleys—like a high-frequency wave registering on an oscilloscope—cuts across a rectangular, crystalline void in sharp articulation of geometry. Worming its way into the icy perfection of this right-angled realm, a lustrous larval element outlined in bright gold asserts the equally compelling role of the organic in aesthetic expression. Eleanor Moty’s “Fissure” brooch is a study of complementaries: light and dark, regular planes and unpredictable curves, the measured architecture of reason and the erratic meanderings of nature.


In this brief excerpt from Chapter 8 of my forthcoming book Photography of Personal Adornment, Robert K. Liu shows how most of the jewelry in these photographs was simply but carefully placed on the traditional sweep table, with a minimum of backgrounds, using either reflective or with both reflective light and transillumination provided by studio strobes.