Saturday, April 3, 2010


Today we visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which could easily be considered a modern-day Eden. 

Encompassing 40 acres, it is positioned in a valley and over 1,000 plant species gloriously emerge from rich, volcanic soil. Hawaii is also home to featured jewelry designer Dawn Wallace.

Wallace gained knowledge of fabricating jewelry by hand under the guidance and tutelage of her parents Samuel and Denise Wallace.

Her mother's jewelry, a vivid and beautiful interpretation of the ancient Aleutian lifestyle, is renowned for its artistic integrity.

Dawn had become such an accomplished metalworker that by age 14 she began exhibiting her wares at a local market in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Using her years of hands-on, at-home training as a base, Dawn traveled to New York City attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) and receiving an A.A.S. (Associate of Applied Science) in jewelry design in 2003.

Although Dawn's design aesthetic is similar to her mother's style with implementations of inlaid stones, like lapis lazuli, animal motifs such as Orca, sea otters, and halibut, figurine-type pieces, and even a 22-piece, sterling silver belt depicting Alaskan landscapes (an item reminiscent of her mother's "storytelling belts"); her overall approach is more contemporary and streamlined in theme and proportion.

This design approach is a deliberate one. "I grew up making jewelry and surrounded by art," she says. "It is common for parents to teach and pass on skills to the next generation in many native cultures. I am so grateful for what I have learned from my parents.

Like my mother, my work is inspired by Alaska but the Alaska I know today, as well as the architectural shapes of New York City, and my time in Hawaii."
The jewelry is beautifully distinctive with gorgeous inlaid turquoise, green chrysoprase, purple sugulite, and feldspare.

The fossilized ivory is actually a remnant of the past "buried in the tundra for hundreds to thousands of years," says the designer. "The ivory's color is dependent on how long it was buried and the minerals in the soil," says Dawn.

Her architectural Parka Pattern jewelry feature a simple yet unique repetitive, geometric design; however the inlay work, and outlines of 14-karat gold or sterling silver brings effortless sophistication to each piece.

Dawn's jewelry ultimately bring to life culture and artisanship in a way where she stays true to herself; never replicating her mother's aesthetic or compromising her artistic vision for the sake of keeping in line with the latest trend.    It is wearable art in the truest sense.
Photo 1 (top right): Flower Scrim Pendant in Sterling Silver Inlaid Stones
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelets with 14-Karat Gold Accents and Inlaid Stones
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