Earth, sea and sky : natural forces as a design source in metalwork

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Rice, Paula Neale
Nelson, Patricia A.
Issue Date
Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Art
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The natural forces of earth, sea and sky provide a wealth of inspiration for the creation of jewelry and metalwork. This project involved the investigation of such natural forces as erosion, growth cycles, tides and wind currents, followed by the design and construction of a body of work based on what was observed.During the observation phase, the artist collected source material In the form of photographs, rough sketches, tracings and actual physical evidence o f the natural forces a t work. The designs were based on a synthesis of the impressions gathered, rather than on one particular source. Not only were the visual and tactile aspects of the forces considered important, but the artist's emotional responses to those forces played a role in the designs as well.A total of thirteen pieces of jewelry and three boxes were created. Chasing, repousse, inlay and reticulation were the metalworking techniques primarily used to render the natural imagery.An intensive study of chasing and repousse was undertaken, as these techniques were especially suited to illustrating the wide variety of form and texture present in nature, from graceful, sweeping cloud formations to heavily modeled rock surfaces. The inlay process proved to be an adaptable way of mounting irregularly shaped natural materials, particularly shells, in the jewelry and boxes. The swirling quality of reticulation effectively represented such textures as the ruffled fungal growths found in forests, or the rushing, foaming tides at the edge of a shoreline.By combining close observation of the effects of natural forces with appropriate metalworking techniques, an aesthetically striking and highly original collection of jewelry and metalwork was conceived and executed.