Monday, November 30, 2009


We are taking two trips today. Our first is to Canada's breathtaking Butchart Gardens, and at 105-years-old, it remains one of the country's most beautiful natural areas. We then travel to the Masada fortress in Israel exploring the preserved ruins of a Byzantine church, and an enormous bathhouse that once belonged to King Herod.

Today's feature is husband and wife team Talya Baharal and Gene Gnida. Canada is the birthplace of Gnida while Baharal's is Israel.

The married couple has a bounty of artistic gifts between them including jewelry design, metalwork, sculpting, and woodwork.

Once completing courses at New York's Parsons School of Design, Baharal embarked on a career in jewelry design 23 years ago starting her own company; however even with her educational background, she is largely self-taught, experimenting with metal's sculpting possibilities.

About 10 years prior to Baharal starting her jewelry company, Gnida was a skilled and well-known woodworker who designed and created furniture and cabinets. Like Baharal, he particularly enjoyed testing the sculpting possibilities of metal as well as stone and wood.

The two met in 1984 while both were living in New York; four years later, they joined forces to establish Baharal and Gnida Designs. Their unusual, yet striking jewelry is without embellishment and is fashioned from various combinations of copper, sterling silver and bronze.

The elegant designs of elongated ovals, spirals, and half-moon shapes are primal in appearance resembling ancient cave pictographs.

The subdued hues and brushed finish of the bronze and copper adds a gritty, earthy vibe while also reinforcing the organic, tribal designs. The structures are basic but very palpable evoking ancient Roman warriors, and protective amulets.

Of particular interest to me is that the choice and arrangement of the metals, though simplistic, evokes something formidable, unflinching, and authoritative.

I am surprised that subtle textures of crisscross, spoke-like structures placed within a metal cutout, or a thin piece of one metal, like copper, wrapped around an elongated orb of silver provide such amazing dimension.

The couple has received numerous accolades and awards both collectively and individually. As a team, their jewelry creations earned them the Best of Show award from the American Craft Council in 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Small Square Choker
Photo 2 (bottom left): Bronze Small Button Earrings with Silver Line
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