Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paper and Structure Working Together - Jessica Beels Jewelry

Jewelry created by Jessica Beels is
innovative and imaginative.
She is a prolific artist with a distinctive style
that's recognizable by her signature
handmade paper and steel creations.

 On her blog she describes the many stages of her process
from building the armature, to making the flax and
mulberry paper, and finally adding surface treatments.
What is especially enlightening is to understand how
part of the process includes having
the stretched paper distort the form of
the underlying structure as it dries.

I make handmade paper from overbeaten flax and mulberry (kozo and gampi) fiber and place it, still wet, over reed or wire armatures. The paper shrinks radically as it dries, leaving a taut, transparent skin on the pieces. I particularly like the way high-shrinkage paper distorts its armature, lending an element of unpredictability to the process of completing each piece.  Often, I print the wet paper with inks and paints and, when the paper is dry, infuse the surface with wax to seal it and enhance its translucence. I am intrigued with how the opaque and sometimes reflective quality of the inks contrasts with the glow of the paper fibers.

Here are some examples of how
diffused light passes through the paper
and shows the hidden structure
underlying the design.

One can see how the paper
shrinks and wraps tightly
around her frameworks.

Continuous structural experimentation
has led this artist to
explore ever more diverse,
unpredictable and intricate designs.

Complex and creative things emerge from
these explorations, and by
using a narrow color range the focus
is directed to the shapes and textures.

It's obvious that her work is
inspired by many biological forms.
It allows for endless exploration of
nuanced shapes and silhouettes.

We found out on the artist's website that
some of her newest pieces are
 currently on exhibit
at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The exhibition is called,
"Bijoux: The Origins and Impact of Jewelry"
and explores a broad view of the materials
that have been used in jewelry
over the centuries "from bones and fossils, to diamonds
and . . . explores the ingenuity of artists
to create adornment from a host of materials,
from the common to the sublime."
This artist's contribution to the exhibit is
" a three-piece jewelry set of paper-over-steel
work with pearls and gold leaf. The necklace is a spiky
Elizabethan-collar-inspired piece with echoes
of sea urchins and horseshoe crabs;
the bracelet is an open sea urchin form;
the earrings are a two-tiered spiky blossom form."

If you look closely, you can see the pearls
she has hand sewn into the corners.
What she doesn't mention is the fact that
these pieces are made with
 seaweed-infused papers.
It adds to the marine life aesthetic.

There is no doubt her innovative and distinctive
 style stands out in any crowd.
We can almost feel the spirit of the
artist in each piece.
"Bijoux: The Origins and Impact of Jewelry"
 runs until March 11, 2012
and more information can be found at the
Bruce Museum's website.
You can also find additional images
and information at the artist's website.

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