ORNAMENT Volume 37 No. 4

Gold and the Gods. Jewels of Ancient Nubia
Kate S. Mensah. Embracing the Female Form
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show 2014
Learning About Beads in Mali. History, Glass and Diplomacy
Matrix Jewelry. Building Light and Volume
Jewelry Arts. Signs of Life
Costume Arts. Kimono for a Modern Age
Collectibles. The Look of Love
Marketplace. Pumtek and DZI Beads
Questions/Answers. Erin Rivera Merriman


The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has one of the most comprehensive collections of jewelry in the world. With nearly twenty thousand objects, its holdings include adornments from six
continents and range in date from ancient to modern times. Beginning July 19, 2014 the Museum opened a stunning exhibition of excavated Nubian adornments in the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery, a space dedicated to the display of jewelry.


By the time she was a teenager Kate S. Mensah already had a well-defined personal style. While other young Parisians in the early 1990s sported baggy jeans, overalls and athletic shoes in a Gallic shrug to hip hop street style, Mensah dressed for school in “real pants with real jackets and tango boots.


Held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center since 1993, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show draws craft artists from across the United States, with a particularly large contingent from the northeast this year. This year’s roster includes fifty-one first timers along with a cross-section of veteran artists, many of whom are expanding their repertoire and refreshing their approach to materials.


In the 1980s, markets in Mali blossomed with beads for sale—new imports from Europe; stone, wood and other natural materials crafted by local artisans; old glass trade beads available in the “antiquités” section beside masks, pots and other cultural artifacts; and African-produced powder glass and Kiffa beads.


How are creative ideas and designs generated? Sometimes even the craftsperson involved finds it hard to explain; it is almost as if it were a compulsion that has to be vented, and stems from many influences. Robert K. Liu's current interest in exploring the construction of light and volumetric jewelry built on wire matrices possibly had its origin decades ago.