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How Working with Textiles Helped to Design for Metal

Design and research are at the core of what I make. I like to read, research, and write as much as possible. I also watch documentaries on a subject from different presenters just to get a well-rounded view on my design theme. Recently though I surprised myself by making a collection of textile earrings as it was the first time I had to physically work with another material in order to understand my design process.

At the beginning of this year I had been playing with a lot of themes to come up with a future collection. I thought about comparing 2 artists from different time periods and imagining their dialogue through my jewelry as a way to talk about the themes of time and place. I also thought about recreating paintings from the Italian Renaissance as a way of making the statement that art can be worn and how the human body (the wearer) is essential to the interaction of art. I dabbled with the idea of creating the clothing in metal, little bits of silver 'cloth,' to work with the idea of pushing the boundaries of what clothing and self-expression mean to us.

Most of my ideas start from these super conceptual and abstract places and then I have to strip down the complexities of an idea to communicate something that's easy to understand and follow.

When I looked back at these complex themes, I had to look for those common threads: time, place, and identity. I fell into this simpler theme of comparing cities with textiles, and there are a ton of metaphors that we use when we're talking about a place. To give you a few that I liked the most:

  • the (social) fabric of a city

  • weaving together the history of a city

  • moral fiber

  • cut from the same cloth

There are many more phrases like this that are sprinkled throughout our conversations and it was a theme I found myself really drawn to exploring.

What I learned from my experience of working with textiles was the importance of patterning, or understanding patterns. I began studying a type of fabric called brocade which was an unusual textile to work with because it clearly holds a sense of history through the pattern. What I came to find in my research on brocades (mostly from Italian Renaissance paintings) was that the patterns were specific to a wearer, they held that person's identity, and that identity was usually tied to a place. Furthermore, when you looked at the wearer, the textile pattern they were wearing in a painting for example, would also appear in the architectural details of a city. These details mimicked those patterns throughout the plazas, palaces, towers, shields, armor, frames of a painting, and/or jewelry they wore.

Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:

Do you see some of the similarities I'm talking about? These are a just several of many which is why I was eager to explore this theme.

That's it for today and thanks for reading,



Top row are all my own photos from both the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. The bottom row are from Wikipedia: first painting is a cropped from Sandro Botticelli's Primavera [Uffizi]; second painting is Bronzino's Eleonora di Toledo portrait [Uffizi]; third painting is Bronzino's Constanza da Sommaia [Detroit Arts Institute].

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