I couldn’t resist joining in Leah Curtis’s History Hop, which reveals today! Leah picked 14 periods from history to inspire jewellery design, and I have to say, it was hard to choose! In the end, I went with Art Nouveau, the artistic and architectural movement that flourished as the 19th century passed into the 20th.
Art Nouveau got its start in France in the last couple of decades of the 19th century, during a period of growth and prosperity later named “La Belle Époque” by the French. It was both a philosophy and a movement of art, architecture, and decorative arts that was characterised by the use of flowing organic forms drawing inspiration from nature, fantasy and the female form. Artists associated with Art Nouveau include the Czech artist Alphonse Maria Mucha, whose poster of opera singer Sarah Bernhardt epitomises the graphic design of the period;
architect Hector Guimard who designed the Paris Metro entrances;
and Emile Gallé, who created carved and etched glass from his factory in the French town of Nancy. Other artists and architects strongly influenced by Art Nouveau include Gustav Klimt, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, René Lalique, Antoni Gaudí and Louis Comfort Tiffany (source: Wikipedia).
Typically, Art Nouveau jewellery used motifs from nature such as dragonflies and waterlilies. There was a strong Japanese influence, especially in Lalique’s work.The stones tended to be more natural, semi-precious gems including opals as well as organically shaped pearls, rather than precious gems like diamonds and rubies. Silver and gold were popular metals, which surprised me a bit as many of theArt Nouveau stampings available these days from companies such as Vintaj and Trinity are brass. Brooches were very popular, such as the eponymous Lalique dragonfly, and many necklaces were relatively simple — a decorative pendant on a fine chain.
One of the characteristics of Art Nouveau jewellery was the use of enamel. Several different enamel techniques were popular including cloisonné, champlevé and plique à jour. In my design I have paid tribute to these techniques by highlighting some of the details with Vintaj patina inks on the brass stamping I used as my focal pendant.
The necklace I made is called The Waterlily Maiden, for the brass stamping focal pendant. I used Vintaj patinas in Ruby and Opalite mixed with a bit of the glaze extender to thin it to give the waterlilies some colour, and a blend of Jade and Moss patinas for the leaves. The maiden was left uncoloured and a wash of diluted cobalt across the background hints at water. A coat of glaze over the top has given it a subtle sheen. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out — the flowers could be a little neater but it’s a pretty good first attempt. The stamping itself came from the Vintaj Salvage Etsy shop, which is a destash shop for the Vintaj company, and is full of fabulous treasures.
Rather than just stringing the pendant on a plain chain, I attached it to another stamping, and then linked it to brass peanut chain interspersed with faceted nuggets of very pale, almost colourless, translucent amethyst, green fluorite and rose quartz, with a small Art Nouveau-style connector between two of the green fluorite stones.
Please take some time to visit the other participants of the History Hop!