Since when does someone use rust as
part of their jewelry design?
Metalsmith Sharon Massey has decided that
rust is a necessary component of her vision.
She creates jewelry that celebrates the old,
the worn, the layers of history that
reside in her surroundings.
Rust fits perfectly into this vision.
It reflects the idea that things gain more
personality and character as they age.
Her work is made primarily of non-precious
materials - things like iron wire and
cotton muslin. The structures of her pieces
are based on ornamental patterns
of ironwork as found in bridges, buildings
and other symbols of industrial life.
It's softened with cloth that is manually
inserted into the metal, and
then to celebrate the discolorations
and the flaws inherent in all things,
this artist uses self-initiated rust.
It's a vision that she defines
simply and eloquently on her site:
My work is a response to things I find beautiful. . . I am drawn to rusted steel, peeling paint, and faded fabric—images in a state of decay that suggest layers of history and personal stories. Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a rich source of inspiration for my work. The history of the steel industry in Pittsburgh is evident throughout the city, which is why steel and iron are the primary materials in my work. I appropriate the ironwork designs that I see everyday, and I allow my pieces to rust, hoping to give them the aged quality that is so attractive to me. . . I’m not interested in merely recreating these things—that would be easier with a camera. I’m trying to capture the essence of the beauty of Pittsburgh, make it tangible, and share it through jewelry.
The more we ponder her ideas, the more we
appreciate her work.
This bracelet is a perfect example of her
use of iron wire, white cotton muslin and rust,
with the techniques she
uses to create her pieces.
We especially admire that while it
looks as though it would be heavy
and dense, in reality it's lightweight -
as are all of her pieces.
These Pink Cuffs are made with
similar materials. We like their daintiness
and subtle colors.
This necklace is called, My Version of a Pearl Necklace
and it includes pearls, silk, and gold.
Here we see a brooch that features the
concave side of her pieces - and it's
equally intriguing. Entitled Cameo Brooch
it also uses iron wire, cotton muslin, rust,
silver and gold.
We appreciate and admire
jewelry that features unusual materials
used in unconventional ways to express
a point of view.
We find it to be inspiring.