Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CATHY SUTTON | NEPENTHE STUDIO

A majestic 18th century citadel, the Fortress of Louisbourg, is the largest reconstructed “historical society” in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.

This historic national site allows guests to step back in time to see how early Canadians lived. Canada is also home to featured jewelry designer Cathy Sutton.


Before starting this blog I was not aware that so many jewelry designers follow truly unique artistic visions.

I had erroneously believed that machine-made, mass produced jewelry brands I have seen were designs hand fabricated by independents.

While mass produced jewelry is of course aesthetically pleasing it is always great to see so many designers have all of these wonderfully innovative ideas. There are the incredible fur-like creations of Giovanni Corvaja’s (Italy) Golden Fleece Collection; the comical kinetic jewelry of Alan Ardiff (Ireland); and the unique, exquisite pearl jewelry of Donna Chambers (USA).

Sutton’s earthy aesthetic also foregoes conventional jewelry trends. Fashioned entirely from combinations of copper, gold and silver metals, the designer jewelry’s beauty is rustic, organic and a little skewered giving many pieces the look of an ancient remnant from a past civilization.

The surface designs of many of her copper pendant necklaces resemble tiny, abstract paintings and these stunning details are created through a fabrication process called “torturing.”

In one pendant necklace, from her Winter 2010 Collection, a small Keishi pearl dangles from a random hole on the surface of what looks like acid-stained copper; the metal’s natural reddish brown surface is transformed into embossed, faded out and etched detailing. It is a great visual.

“My pieces are truly made for those who want to have total exclusivity in what they wear,” says Sutton, “Each piece is one-of-a-kind. Textures from sand, stones, tree bark, moss and grasses all inform my palette.”

Sutton solders appliqué designs of sterling silver or 10-karat gold onto copper producing rings with gold beads protruding from the bands’ curvature; or gold rings with boldly faceted Herkimer Diamonds that are actually clear quartz crystals; Scandinavian styled bangle bracelets Sutton refers to as “bangl-ish”, as well as silver link bracelets accented with her own lampwork glass beads.

The creamy, moon-like color of lace agate is a lovely focal point to silver pendants as are turquoise, gold citrine, and Orthoceras fossils! In my opinion her aesthetic is a welcome departure from the standard jewelry trends, though Sutton offers a somewhat battered take on the classic cross necklace.

“Having worked in many mediums over the least three decades, I have finally arrived! The glow and warmth of precious metals have invaded my psyche and taken hold of my soul,” she acknowledges.

“I can add texture to it, I can torture it, and I can recycle gold onto sterling silver. The world is my inspiration. I use eco-friendly materials including remanufactured sterling silver, reworked gold, natural copper and fair trade gemstones.

With them I can create a functional master piece that will uplift the wearer and make her feel like a walking work of art.”
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Photo 1 (top right): Tortured Copper and Sterling Silver Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver Fresh Lime Sea Glass Bracelet with Lampwork Glass Beads
Photo 3 (bottom left): 10-Karat Gold Art Deco Pendant with Lampwork Glass Beads and Rose Quartz Cabochons
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