Saturday, April 10, 2010

TOM HERMAN

Today we visit New York's Saratoga National Historical Park that preserves military sites significant to the Battles of Saratoga fought during the American Revolutionary War. New York is also home to featured jewelry designer Tom Herman.

Inspired by the organic compositions of landscapes, and the sweeping creativity of Art Nouveau jewelry artists like Rene Lalique, Herman hand fabricates majestic and exquisite pieces through longstanding techniques.

With over twenty years of experience his items, fashioned from opals, diamonds, agates, freshwater pearls and 18-karat yellow gold, are reminiscent of California-based designer Karen Olsen Ramsey whose lavish jewelry is also influenced by the grandeur of the Art Nouveau period.

Amazingly, Herman creates his magnificent jewelry using only seven fingers, three of which he lost in a farming accident as a young boy. "I have never considered it a handicap. It is not any different than working with ten fingers," he says. "When I needed a name for my company, I chose to call it Seven Fingers Jewelers because it is so distinctive."

Herman achieves his jewelry's striking visual depth through carving and engraving. Each piece just grabs you with the boldness and strength of its design proportions and the intensity of the lush hue of gold and gemstones.

"In many ways my work is romantic and classical; combining organic and geometric forms," he says. "I do almost all chasing by starting with metal thick enough to carve into it, and then use punches to define it.

There is always an element of focus in any classical work, like the work of Fabergé and Lalique. I will create a design that draws the eye to it by containing the design within an architectural form. It is this kind of quality I am after because it is timeless."

The emotional response that often occurs when an observer sees a piece of jewelry is of high importance to the designer. "Galleries are a good way to sell your work but it is imperative that a designer is there to witness people look at and interpret the work," Herman explains.

"Without seeing their reactions you won't get a true sense of whether or not your work touches them. I find this indispensable."

Although I sometimes believe that stating jewelry is pretty is inconsequential at the same time, there is no question that aesthetic appeal is important.

When someone marvels at a designer's work, when they wonder about the techniques involved to achieve a certain effect, or when emotion is evoked that says the piece has captured more than their sense of vision. It has captured the observer's imagination.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Lily Opal Brooch with Freshwater Pearl Drop
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold A Tangle of Brambles Cuff with Shakudo Detailing and Diamond
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