Jewellery as Art in the Eco-Fashion World

September 9, 2014 11:45 am

My designs are understood in the fashion community as ‘wearable art.’

And lately I’ve been venturing into jewellery making – another kind of wearable art.

Not everyone recognises jewellery making as an artform. Jewellery has become tied to its monetary value and is usually recognised simply as a commodity, with diamonds generally considered the highest expression of jewellery.

But jewellery is an artform. It is practiced in the same way as sculpture – with attention to the moulded and structural forms, the use of symbolism, and exploration of multi-dimensional materials. And without a design sensibility, a piece of jewellery will lack beauty, resonance or meaning. Great artists of the 15th and 16th centuries all trained in the design and production of fine jewellery!

My foray into jewellery making was inspired by a roll of copper wire and the precious stones I had procured for use in my garment designs. The malleability of the copper wire was immediately of interest to me – I could knit with it! Here is one of my recently produced pieces – a knitted copper wire and agate choker necklace.

Green Embassy Jewellery Knitted Copper wire, Agate Stones

Knitted Copper wire, Agate Stones

There is a wealth of contemporary and ancient body ornaments in museums and galleries around the world. Some of the elements most appreciated by collectors and museums are intricate beadwork and extensive use of mixed media. This appreciation has gradually expanded to include the use of found objects and a variety of flexible media. I’ve been upcycling vintage jewellery found in thrift shops and antique stores – these can make a wonderful base or foundation for the development of a truly unique piece of jewellery.

Green Embassy Jewellery Upcycled vintage beads with Eco-Print on Merino hand made organic fabric with Eucalyptus leaves , metal chain

Upcycled vintage beads with Eco-Print on Merino hand made organic fabric with Eucalyptus leaves , metal chain

 

Green embassy jewellery Natural Silk Organza, Eco-Printed with Eucalyptus leaves, Hand made Organic Certified Merino fabric sculpture, agetate Stonem, Fresh Water Pearl, knitted Copper wire

Natural Silk Organza, Eco-Printed with Eucalyptus leaves, Hand made Organic Certified Merino fabric sculpture, agetate Stonem, Fresh Water Pearl, knitted Copper wire

Green Embassy Jewellery Agate Stones, Copper Wire, Organic hand made Alpaca textile sculpture, copperwire, upcycled vintage glass beads

Agate Stones, Copper Wire, Organic hand made Alpaca textile sculpture, copperwire, upcycled vintage glass beads

I have also been recycling pieces of my organic and eco-printed fabrics to create miniature landscapes of soft and hard forms, and all allowing me live out the Green Embassy Zero Waste Policy.

Green Embassy Jewellery Organic Certified hand made Merino and alpaca fabric sculptures, knitted copper wire, various vintage beads

Organic Certified hand made Merino and alpaca fabric sculptures, knitted copper wire, various vintage beads

Green Embassy Jewellery Natural Silk Organza Eco-Printed by hand with Eucalyptus leaves on Metal Chain, knitted Copper wire with variety of Gem Stones (Jade, Agate, Aventurine, Red Jasper, Sardonyx)

Natural Silk Organza Eco-Printed by hand with Eucalyptus leaves on Metal Chain, knitted Copper wire with variety of Gem Stones (Jade, Agate, Aventurine, Red Jasper, Sardonyx)

Green Embassy jewellery Knitted copper wire, GOTS Certified Organic Cotton fabric, Natural Silk Organza Eco-Printed with Eucalyptus leaves, Agate Stones

Knitted copper wire, GOTS Certified Organic Cotton fabric, Natural Silk Organza Eco-Printed with Eucalyptus leaves, Agate Stones

Jewellery is used by women and more recently also men as an expression of individual personality. People can become very connected to a piece of jewellery and it almost becomes part of their identity. This is why unique, one-of-a-kind pieces are important to their wearers.

Green Embassy Jewellery Silk Georgette hand printed with Eucalyptus leaves, copper wire, Agate Stone

Silk Georgette hand printed with Eucalyptus leaves, copper wire, Agate Stone

 

Simon Sakhai, the director of the Shizaru gallery (a contemporary art gallery in Mayfair, London), said:

“We see jewellery as an important part of the artistic dialogue and it should be included in the great intellectual discourse of art.”*

Simon, I agree.  With new necklaces and headpieces to complement my eco-fashion designs, this month, the world will see a new side of Green Embassy on the runways of Vancouver and Paris!

 

*UK Financial Times, Nov 11, 2011.

Fashion that moves and heals

September 4, 2014 9:03 pm

I’ve been inspired since creating the Mrs Australia gown a few weeks ago and I’ve been exploring the use of healing stones and semi-precious gems in my designs!

Mrs Australia stonework

The Mrs Australia Dress

Originally, all I knew was that I loved the idea of working with stones. I started with stones only of Australian origin, including turquoise, hematite and cultured pearls. More recently I have added new stones, including agate, goldstone, moonstone, amethyst, howlite, amazonite and others with complicated names I cannot recall at the moment! I selected them purely for their origins in the earth, which worked with the ‘Connected to Land’ theme of my latest collection.

Connected to Land series - dress with stone and Aboriginal artwork

Connected to Land series – organic cotton dress with agates (indigenous artwork by Deborah Bonar)

But when you work closely with something as I do, hand-stitching and attaching the little treasures to organic textiles and garments, you become intimately acquainted with them. In the same way that I come to know all the unique shapes and tones of a piece of handmade fabric, I found that, as worked with the stones, I started to notice their beautiful patterns and colours. The depth the stones added to the appearance of my designs became a much more important part of my choice to use them.

I started exploring the possibilities, such as installation art by using transparent thread to string the stones to dresses, giving them the appearance of being suspended in mid-air. This gave the gowns, when worn on the body, a wonderful kinetic quality – sparkling and moving in response to the movement of the wearer. 

Installation art

Installation art – stones threaded into spaces in fabric

I’ve also taken a leap into creating jewellery art pieces incorporating the stones, organic textiles and metals such as copper.

Copper wire and stones on a choker necklace

Copper wire and stones on a choker necklace

After doing more research on these stones, I discovered that gem stones have an ancient tradition in the healing realm. Since history has been recorded, stones and crystals have been used for their healing qualities. This was very exciting. I researched the healing qualities of the stones I was working with and found the following:

  • Agates attracts strength, providing protection from stress and energy drains. Agates have being used in jewellery since Babylonian times and are one of the oldest stones in recorded history.
  • Goldstone helps you attain your goals. Goldstone is also said to help you stay calm and stabilise the emotions. It can be used as an energy generator and can deflect unwanted energies, so it is also a protection stone.
  • Moonstone is strongly connected to the moon, the feminine, and to intuition as well. It is first and foremost a women’s stone, directly associated with the Mother Goddess. It is also associated with good fortune.
  • Amethyst is traditionally worn to guard against drunkenness and to instill a sober mind! However, it is also considered protection against toxicity, and can guard you from guilty and fearful feelings.
  • Howlite is a very calming stone. It is often used to relieve insomnia as it stills the mind for sleep or meditation, and can calm turbulent emotions and teach patience.
  • Amazonite is a harmony stone – helping you find focus both within yourself and with others. It will help you to communicate your true thoughts and feelings in a clear, concise way.

I like to think that these designs have yet another purpose – not just fashion; not simply art; but also healing and protective qualities. These pieces will make their exciting debut at Vancouver Fashion Week in just two weeks’ time and at World Fashion Week in Paris.

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