Thursday, February 18, 2010


The victories and defeats of any country's history lie within its architecture.

The castles of the Borders of Scotland practically vibrate with political intrigue such as Neidpath Castle, a residence and safe haven at different times for Oliver Cromwell and Mary Stuart. Scotland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Zoƫ Bassi.

Design inspiration can come from anywhere: a verse from a poem, an archway of a building, the slope of a mountain, or the curve of a flower petal.

The coastal region of Scotland, with its villages and fishing communities, provide Bassi with a great source of inspiration.

"I find the east coastline of Scotland fascinating to visit and to bring to life in my drawings," she says. "I use my drawings to translate into my jewelry."

A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, with a degree in jewelry, Bassi implements boat, fishnet, and creel motifs in creations of sterling and oxidized silver, and wood veneer offset with colored enamel details, gold foil, and sprinklings of semi-precious gemstones.

Her boat-inspired creations are reminiscent of fellow Scottish designer Julie Allison's storybook-style jewelry. Their structure is imperfect but legible and simple like a child's drawing. This naturalness of form yields a pure, straightforward kind of beauty with a hint of whimsy.

I particularly like what appears to be her signature; the texture of coils carved out of the metal within her creel designs. The pieces are soft, pretty, and ethereal; evoking a casual, relaxing day at the beach. Her limited edition pieces take it a step further with brooches covered with layers of simulated gnarled fishnet and scale-like exteriors.

"Detail is an important part of many of my pieces. I love to draw the immense detail that can be found in what looks at first glance to be ordinary," she explains. "I aim to keep my work honest, engaging, and spontaneous."

Bassi's beautifully understated creations have garnered her numerous awards including Heriot Watt First Year Prize, the Katherine Michaelson Prize, and the Marzee Galerie Graduate Prize.

Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver and Gilded Silver Creel Trio Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Wood Veneer and Sterling Silver Drop Earrings
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