Ornament Back Issues

Create or Complete Your Collection


Volume 33 No.2 2009


Ornament Magazine

Purchase this issue


Purchase PDF of this issue







Cover Feature: Contemporary Beads and Jewelry

Contemporary Beads and Jewelry Bridging the Past and the Future. Set in Stone Prehistoric Southwest Ornaments. Britt Rynearson Sculptural Shibori. Trashy Treasures Beads on the Streets of Rome. Marne Ryan Trial by Fire. Ancient Trees and Stromatolites Materials for Modern Jewelry. Fiber Arts Contemporary Japanese Fashion. Enamel Arts Edge of the Sublime. Jewelry Arts Heirlooms of the Future. Ancient Arts Art of the Samurai. Marketplace Acme Designs.

Contemporary Beads
and Jewelry
by Lois Sherr Dubin 

Bridging the Past and the Future
Is there any human-made object more primal than beads? I think not. They appear in all cultures, worldwide. And most significantly, the study of personal adornment—with a focus on beads—is currently at the cutting edge of paleo-archaeological research in providing essential information on the origins of symbolic or abstract thinking. From Paleolithic times until today, beads have served as a visual language, communicating a wide range of ideas and beliefs. Through their materials, colors, forms, craftsmanship, and in the ways in which they are joined, beads tell us what people valued. We are simultaneously reminded how people have used beads to organize and symbolize their world, and as guideposts in human relationships and expressions of innermost feelings. Beads are the essence of material culture: physical objects that make the abstract tangible. Photograph by Kiyoshi Togashi.


  Ancient Trees and Stromatolites
by Wayne P. Armstrong

Materials for Modern Jewelry
During the past four billion years, an amazing variety of life forms have appeared on earth, from primitive microbes in ancient seas to a vast diversity of plants and animals. Although they lived millions of centuries ago, they are still present to this day as fossils waiting to be uncovered. Some have literally turned into stone with their cellular detail perfectly preserved as petrified wood. The honey-like resin of some has polymerized into translucent amber. And some have been transformed into coal-like deposits known as jet. Polished and made into beautiful jewelry, they represent a chronological record of early life on earth.


    Britt Rynearson
by Robin Updike

Sculptural Shibori
Soft as silk. Smooth as silk. When most people think of silk, images appear of lustrous, drapey, sometimes diaphanous fabric prized throughout history for its luxurious and sensual texture. It is the fabric of kimonos and evening gowns, form-flattering blouses and sexy lingerie. But when Britt Rynearson gets her hands on bolts of silk, she sees sculpture. Rynearson makes silk shibori wraps, shrugs and scarves that she describes using words such as “form” and “sculpture.” She talks about the “ridges” or pleats she makes in her pieces, and she likes the way the shawls and shrugs have an “architectural” look once they are wrapped around someone’s shoulders. Though she makes her living creating art-to-wear, it is tempting to think of Rynearson as a sculptor whose medium is silk. “What I love about shibori is the sculptural aspect of the work, and also the irregularities of the pleats.” Photographs by Charlie Schuck. Model: Samantha King. Photographs by Rocky Salsko. Model: Ashley Foster.


  Marne Ryan
by Jill A. DeDominicis

Trial by Fire
From the time she was just a child Marne Ryan has loved fire. Growing up in a large family on a tree farm in Pennsylvania, she discovered her affinity for flame early on as she would watch the family refuse burn to ashes. The excitement and unpredictability of fire remained with her, and became a central part of her process as a jeweler and metalsmith. With her torch in hand Ryan transforms sheets, scraps and fragments of metal into beautiful rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, vessels, and hollowware. Coming from a family of inventors, musicians and blacksmiths, Ryan found herself in the metals field somewhat serendipitously. “I just knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a tree farm, so I filled out these computer punch cards until a little light lit up and those were the schools I applied to,” she says. “There were two that wanted me: the University of Washington in Seattle and Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, and I knew my parents wouldn’t let me go to Seattle.” Photographs by George Post.


by Robert K. Liu

Prehistoric Southwest Ornaments
Not often am I so impressed by an exhibition that I become concerned with showing as much of it as possible. Running through February 2010 at the Arizona State Museum, on the campus of the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Set in Stone was just such an occasion. [This has also been the case with the recent expansion of the Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Liu 2008).] Subtitled 2000 Years of Gem and Mineral Trade in the Southwest, the show is actually two integrated exhibitions, one on the prehistoric Southwest, the other on historic and contemporary Southwest jewelry. The exhibition was curated respectively by Museum staff members Arthur Vokes and Diane Dittemore, with guest co-curator Su Benaron. Photographs by Robert K. Liu/Ornament. Courtesy of the Arizona State Museum.


by Elisa Bigi
and Massimo Vidale

Beads on the Streets of Rome
We stood in a Chinese shop on Via Turati, near Termini railway station, in the center of Rome. The walls were covered by countless necklaces sealed in plastic bags. We were surrounded by strands of beads in metal, plastic, shell, glass, covered by glazes and studded with shiny rhinestones; sometimes in carnelian or agate colored blue, yellow or green with chemical solutions. Three dealers were packing beads and necklaces in cardboard boxes to be shipped to other nearby shops and of the same rione (name for the old traditional neighborhoods of Rome). A set of flexible bangles made of colored mother-of-pearl beads was sorted on the floor and wrapped in transparent bags. Rubber bands, beads or bead fragments, pieces of bags and tape, and paper tags fell on the ground. On the labels one read “Fashion Jewellery,” the non-branded identity of the globalized international market of costume jewelry. Then the floor was swept, and the refuse went into a cardboard box. In turn, the box was dumped into a black plastic bag fated to enter the big dustbin or the green dumpster on wheels in the main street. Two beads, an envelope and a bunch of paper labels were brushed away on the footpath in front of the door. Photographs by Frederica Aghadian.



  Follow Ornament on...