Sunday, January 22, 2012


Plastic and Sterling Silver Orbit Pendant
in Tortishell
Warwickshire, England is the location of a popular tourist attraction; a market town called Stratford-upon-Avon. 

This wonderfully quaint location was once the homestead to legendary playwright William Shakespeare.  England is also home to featured jewelry designer Lesley Strickland.

A variety of plastics including polyurethanes to polystyrene are used to manufacture innumerable items that we use in our day-to-day lives. 

Shampoo bottles, cups, and three-ring binders are just a sampling of products made with plastic.  However, Leo H. Baekeland’s discovery of Bakelite a little more than a century ago would ultimately bring this aesthetically ordinary material into a different medium: jewelry making. 

As a kid, I remember getting simple multicolored, plastic bangle bracelets that I thought were pretty cool. In the present day, you could say my tastes have definitely matured.

I have learned about so many talented jewelry artisans including Yoko Izawa (Japan), Anoush Waddington (England) and Alexis Bittar (USA) who create sophisticated and dazzling works of wearable art with polypropylene and Lucite, respectively.

Plastic and Sterling Silver Comet Bangle Bracelets
Strickland’s modern jewelry collections implementing hypo-allergenic cellulose acetate and sterling silver are yet another example of how an artistic mind can bring forth personality and innate beauty of a seemingly flat material.

Strickland’s lithe, sinuous outlines are inspired in part by 1950s sculptures.  Her penchant for sleek lineation, gentle curvatures and muted colors make for brooch pins, bangle and cuff bracelets, and stud earrings that are effortlessly chic and classic. 

I love the silken texture of the cellulose acetate and how the sterling silver offsets it.  Vegetable and mineral pigments provide the designs with subtle hues in apple, sage and tangerine that are at once unobtrusive and striking.

“Cellulose acetate can be layered into a wide range of patterns and can be manipulated into far more fluid forms than other types of plastic,” says Strickland.  “My passion for designing and making jewelry started in 1976 at London’s The City Literary Institute. 

Two guiding principles that I strive to apply to my work are elegant simplicity and empathy with the wearer.  I want the wearer to have a very tactile relationship with my jewelry.

Plastic and Sterling Silver Twirl Earrings
in Rust Ice
I have developed many new manufacturing techniques over the last thirty years.  I have developed special methods of forming, polishing and matting the acetate. 

Although I use modern technology to produce my jewelry collections, craftsmanship is still key to making the best use of such an elegant material.”
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