Friday, September 22, 2006

"Andante"This piece is my entry in the Saul Bell Design

handmade beaded jewelry

handmade beaded jewelry

This piece is my entry in the Saul Bell Design competition this year. Saul Bell was the founder of Rio Grande, the jewelry supply company, and I believe that the competition began in 2000 to honor him.

When my husband Mike began restoring an antique player piano, I became interested in all of the hundreds of pieces that needed to be cleaned, repaired, and replaced. The old ivory keys especially caught my attention, particularly when I thought about the elephants that were destroyed to create these beautiful objects. Why is it that so often beauty and destruction, delight and tragedy are so closely intertwined?

The only ivory that it is currently legal to use in the United States is old recycled ivory or ancient fossilized ivory. The keys dangling from "Andante" are authentic ~ antique ivory that has been reclaimed and recycled from pianos that were otherwise destined for the junk heap. I chose the name "Andante," a musical term, to signify the stately (and perhaps melancholy?) pace of the elephants that became part of the heritage of the piano.

All of the materials other than the scavanged keys that were used in the necklace came from Rio Grande's huge stock. The main strand of the necklace is strung white bamboo coral, red aventurine, and bullseye red sardonyx, all of which have an earthy glow that complements the patina of the ivory. The central portion is wired links of horn, another organic material that blends nicely into the color palette. The keys were drilled, and then attached to the horn links by means of sterling silver wire work, using only hand tools. A selection of stone beads and Bali sterling silver beads that are wired to the ivory keys create continuity with the rest of the necklace.

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Cyndi L