Monday, April 18, 2011

MAI SATO FLORES

14-Karat Gold Filled Rising Sun Necklace w/Garnet and Moonstone
The Kasuga Grand Shrine, located in Nara, Japan, is an 8th century temple built by one of the country’s most powerful families, the Fujimaras.  

The Shinto temple is characterized by stunning bronze and stone lanterns.  Japan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Mai Sato Flores.


With the spring season in full swing here in the States there is just no denying the varied and complex beauty of naturally occurring surroundings. 

It is a virtual playground to the senses: the tranquil sight of clear, blue skies; the smell of freshly cut grass; and the chatter of birds.

Here again nature serves as a consistent muse to the observant eye of a jewelry designer.  The unusual forms of sea life inspired the work of New Zealand designer Louise Douglas; the variegated flora found within his mother’s Alabama garden captured the imagination of David Lee Holland (USA); while the stunning designer jewelry of Danai Leosawathiphong (Thailand) preserves actual flowers in resin or lacquer through electro-forming.

Flores’ delicate and ethereal handmade jewelry designs are a gentle mix of metal, wire wrap and gemstone jewelry that not only highlights subtle interpretations of butterflies, twigs, and leaves but also Flores’ dexterity at using a variety of jewelry making techniques.

“My mother had a huge influence on me,” says the New York-based designer.  “She was very active and artistic.  She taught me how to garden and make my own clothes.  I remember starting to make beaded jewelry for my friends when I was seven years old.  At age 20, after I moved to New York, I majored in graphic design but I also took metalsmithing courses, and in my spare time I began learning about wire-wrapping techniques.”

14-Karat Gold Filled Sea Anemone Lapis Lazuli Earrings
Bangle bracelets, gemstone earrings, bridal jewelry, and gold pendants are cultivated from 18-karat gold vermeil, solid 14-karat yellow or rose gold, 14-karat gold-fill, sterling silver and a plethora of gemstones that include freshwater pearls, tourmaline, and whiskey topaz.

Her interpretations of such natural phenomenon as clouds and rivers are straightforward yet naturalistic.  The subtle, mild outlines make for simply pretty, everyday jewelry. 

Her metal jewelry items highlight carved out images of birds, cherry blossoms, and butterflies.  There are perforated pendant necklaces inspired by bug-bitten leaves and delicate wire wrap pieces.

I like her gemstone jewelry pieces the most which feature an assortment of gemstone pendants called Sea Anemone; these particular designs showcase nice contrasts of alternately rich, clear, and opaque hues of such gemstones as amethyst, garnet, lapis lazuli, smoky quartz, chrysoprase and turquoise.

“I love constructing jewelry and working with many tools,” she acknowledges.  “I use tiny saw blades to cut out shapes in metal and carve shapes for wax molds.  Since ancient times, humans have had a powerful fascination with gemstones.  They are the object of fantasy, fashion and superstition.  They are studied by scientists, depicted by artists and worn as symbols of beauty, power and wealth.”

Flores shares her passion for gemstones in her book Wrapped in Gems, which “shares the secrets of her work and the natural elements that inspire it.”  Of special interest to Flores is her beautiful garnet and moonstone Rising Sun Necklace; a design she created in conjunction with the Japanese Relief Fund in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

“Ever since the earthquake struck on March 11th I had been watching the news helplessly and thinking of what I can do to help.  The Rising Sun Necklace forms a circle to show our unity with the people of Japan.  I make each one by hand. 
18-Karat Gold Vermeil River Ring
Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sale of the necklace will be donated to the American Red Cross for the Japanese Relief Fund. 

In addition, 30% of proceeds from the sale of any other item on my website will be donated to the American Red Cross.”
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