Sunday, November 24, 2013

Franklinia Seed Pod Pendant

Franklinia alatamaha. Photo by Mimi Favre
Franklinia alatamaha is an extinct tree species that was once native to Georgia. It was named after Benjamin Franklin by William Bartram, son of colonial era naturalist nurseryman John Bartram, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bartrams were the first commercial plant nursery in the colonies and are responsible for sending thousands of native plant species from the colonies to Great Britain.

Their home was once part of a 1,000 acre tract of land along the Schuylkill River south of center city Philadelphia. The site was originally settled in 1648 however excavated archeological finds indicate that this land was also home to native Indians 3000 years ago. Born to a Quaker family, John Bartram spent his life learning about science and botany with boundless curiosity. Bartram’s Garden is open to visitors throughout the year.
Bartram's Garden Program: Twilight in the Garden- Fundraiser 2013. Bartram's Garden©
'Twilight in the Garden' is the annual fall fundraising benefit for Bartram’s Garden. This year, a friend on the event committee asked if I could create a pendant from a Franklinia seed pod that she had collected a few years back from the grounds at Bartram’s Garden. The seed pod is from a living, flowering franklinia alatamaha that been thriving at the garden.

Sometimes, jewelry projects find their way to me and this was a project I was eager to help with. Even though her one and only rare seed pod, would have to be destroyed in the process, she was excited that it would become a pendant to be offered as a Raffle item at the Twilight fundraiser.
Franklinia seed pod. 

Franklinia seed.

Franklinia seed pods. M Favre©.
The mature seed pod has a magnificent structure. Once round, it expands as it dries into  five sections that split, allowing the seed to release. The tip of the seed has a five pointed shape. Unable to mold the entire pod, I decided to cast it. That is, burn it out and fill the void with metal. But thinking ahead, that maybe we would want to make others in the future, I decided to cut the original casting in half. That way we could mold the halves and put it back together later. Also, there was a seed in the middle that had come loose from the outer shell. I gently pulled it through. That piece was also molded. 
Franklinia pod. Two halves. Mimi Favre©
Three pieces, once cast, were re-assembled (soldered together). The sterling silver casting was hand finished to retain all of the interesting textures and the center seed is still loose and free to move.
Sterling Franklinia seed pod. Mimi Favre©

Franklinia Seed Pod. Sterling silver ©Mimi Favre.

Much has been written about John Bartram and his legacy as naturalist, botanist and nurseryman. I recommend this recent book: The Brother Gardeners, Botany Empire And The Birth Of An Obsession,  by Andrea Wulf. Knopf 2010. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Late Summer on The Outer Banks

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC. ©Favre
I love this place.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a stretch of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. It's a premier East coast surfing location which is why our family has been visiting since the mid 70's. It is also a destination for windsurfing, kitesurfing, birding and deep sea fishing. It's a place where you can spend every waking hour of the day in the water or on the sand.  The light changes by the minute and sometimes so does the weather. At night the sky is lighted by stars. 

A lot has changed since my first visit here. There are many more houses and visitors during peak summer months, but the growth could have been a lot worse. The fact that most of the beach is National Park and that the weather can be quite threatening and damaging, challenges even the strongest willed visitors and residents. Hurricane tides and wash over have cut the islands in pieces more than a few times. And the ocean around the point, is known as The Graveyard of the Atlantic. The residents of Cape Hatteras are proud of their maritime way of life.

Weathered tree roots. Cape Hatteras National Seashore. ©Favre 
So, while the surfers are scoping out the best beach for waves, I check for low tide and best shelling opportunities. Over the years I have collected all sorts of shells. Most of them are worn and smooth or I find skeletons and fragments. I have created jewelry from some. It's quite relaxing to sift through the piles--I could do this for hours, and I do! 
Shells, Cape Hatteras, NC. ©Favre
Shells, Cape Hatteras, NC. ©Favre
Driving on the beach is permitted and necessary for fishing at the point. The beaches also face closure for endangered bird nesting sites and sea turtle nests. Or, in this case erosion and high tides. You are on your own here, which is another reason it's a special place. There are only a couple of beaches with life guards. 
Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC.©Favre

The famous lighthouse painted with swirls of black and white is here too. It was moved back from the water's edge in 1999. Visitors can climb to the top. I did this when the kids were young in the old location and again on this trip.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. ©Favre

Interior stairway, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. ©Favre

Cape Hatteras point view. ©Favre
Late afternoon the chartered sport fishing boats arrive back in Hatteras village with the day's catch. We took a seat at the picnic table to have fresh steamed shrimp and a beverage!
Oden's dock, Cape Hatteras, NC. ©Favre

It is becoming more rare to find old houses on the island. Either they are damaged by storms or left to neglect. 
Old house in Buxton, NC. Favre©

Pamlico sound. Buxton, NC. ©Favre
This visit we stayed at the Inn on Pamlico sound. Every night brought a beautiful sunset. The sound is wide and shallow. The coastline hasn't been disturbed with bulkheads which makes it perfect for kayaking. Favorable no-wind made for a very peaceful setting on this particular evening.Taken from the deck at the Inn, looking south west to Hatteras Village.

This parting shot sums up everyday on a surf vacation: the car, surfboards, snacks, etc. Everything for a day on the beach.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vacation- France and le Tour

Tours, France. Stage 13, Tour de France 2013. Photo M. Favre©
I've owned several road bikes over the years. I rode thousands of miles and participated in amateur racing (all--in my youth). I had stopped riding until recently. I bought a new Pinarello road bike to get back into cycling. In recent years I have enjoyed watching the Tour de France which has been broadcast live each year for the duration- twenty one consecutive mornings. Despite the doping accusations that have plagued cycling and the resulting downfall of Lance Armstrong, I haven't lost interest. Cycling is a great sport and this is probably the hardest athletic event in the world. The backdrop of the French landscape, countryside and mountains, figures prominently into this spectacle which just finished for the one hundredth time on July 21 in grand style, in Paris. This year the riders rode 3,404 kilometers.

Some very good friends, who happen to be BIG fans of the Tour de France, invited me to join them on a motoring trip following the riders and route of the 2013 Tour. I met up midway through their itinerary in Tours, France in time to see the finish of Stage 12.

The morning of Stage 13, Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond, the Bicycling magazine crew was having a breakfast strategy meeting in the small dining area of our hotel! Our strategy for the day was to catch some swag from the Caravan and walk around the pre-race staging area in Tours where each team's bus, bikes and support vehicles were on display. I took a lot of pictures of bikes but my favorite shot that day was of a rider who stopped to give young fans his autograph. Later we watched the slow roll out of the start of the stage.

Team Saxo-Tinkoff bikes. #91- Alberto Contador.  Photo by M. Favre©
Team Cannondale bikes. #11 Peter Sagan- Winner of Green Jersey.
Photo M. Favre©
Extra Pinarello Dogma bikes. Team SKY. Photo M. Favre©
Lampre- Merida rider #148 Niemiec Przemyslaw stops pre-race to sign autograph. Photo M. Favre©
On Bastile day, July 14, Stage 14, we parked the car in the field of a vineyard and walked a few kilometers uphill to the Col de Madeleine where we picnicked as we waited for the riders. It is about 28 kilometers from the finish on Mount Ventoux. 

Stage 14, Tour de France 2013. Photo M. Favre©
Peter Sagan leads Stage 14 on Col de Madeleine. Photo M. Favre©
After the racers sped by, we were able to watch the finish on a computer in the woods, powered by a car battery and a satellite dish! We met fans from Australia, New Zealand and the US. 
Watching TV broadcast of the finish on Col de Madeleine (28k up Mount Ventoux)
on battery powered computer via dish! Vive le Tour!
Photo M. Favre©
Aside from the race, there was time to enjoy the French countryside and culture. In Lyon we sampled local cheese and fruit.

Market Day in Lyon, France. Photo M. Favre©

We stayed at an amazing Chateau in Rosans. Our host, Marcel van der Hulst was incredible.
Old Postcard of Chateau Rosans.
Chateau Rosans, 2013. Photo M.Favre©
Breakfast at Chateau Rosans. Photo M. Favre©
We took the TGV back to Paris in time to spend a few days and see the finish. 
Caravan of le Tour de France 2013 enters the Louvre. Photo M. Favre©

Riders enter on Pont de Carrousel, Paris. As a spectator you hear the helicopters in the distance while you wait. Then the lead out Grenardiers on motorcyles  plus a few Official cars come speeding by. Suddenly, the riders pop into view for seconds as they fly by. (Video) Listen for the sound of the crowd clapping and cheering as the riders enter the bridge. On the ground is way different from seeing the Helicopter footage!!

Match the bike #'s to riders here, Velo News

Friday, June 21, 2013

Visiting- Out Of This World! Jewelry In The Space Age

Out Of This World! Jewelry In The Space Age
The Forbes Galleries, New York City
March 16-September 7, 2013
Guest Curator, Elyse Zorn Karlin

The Forbes Galleries could not be a more perfect gallery space for viewing jewelry. The exhibit is located on the ground floor just off the lobby of Forbes Magazine headquarters in Greenwich Village and is one of several shows currently on view.
Rocket Ship Brooch
Unknown maker, 1960s Platinum, diamond
Lang Antiques, San Francisco

 Although this is primarily a Jewelry Exhibit, it has wide appeal—bring the kids! Coins, commemorative pins and ephemera create a context for the jewelry that illustrates the timelessness of human wonder about the heavens (AKA Outer Space). Anyone interested in space pop-culture dating back to late nineteenth century would enjoy the exhibit. To those visitors who may be unfamiliar with the diversity of the world of jewelry, the show is a primer on the wide range of techniques and materials employed by the industry and jewelry artists.
Tampa Necklace
Van Cleef & Arpels, French
White and yellow gold with round, baguette and rose-cut diamond, round pink,
purple and yellow sapphire, rose-cut blue sapphire, onyx, round orange garnet,
round red spinel and round beryl.
Private Collection

Jewelry fans will delight in a wonderful mix of costume fashion jewelry, artisan jewelry and fine jewelry made from precious metals and gemstones. Examples range from the most exquisite precious like the Tampa Necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany & Co Schlumberger to base metal costume, to pieces made from modern materials like polymer clay, fiber optic and space metals (to name a few).
Star Burst Clip Brooch
Schlumberger, Tiffany & Co., American, post–1956
Gold, diamond, ruby, mabe pearl Tiffany & Co. Archive
Also included are newer pieces by contemporary jewelry designers.

Star Pendant
Steven Kretchmer, American
Diamond, polarium, platinum, 20k gold, 18k yellow gold
Courtesy of the artist

Elyse Zorn Carlin has curated a diverse mix of pieces, old and new, that beautifully illustrates the artful expression of the Space Age through the jewelry medium. This show is a refreshing reminder that jewelry can be playful and whimsical and that it’s not always about the ‘bling’.

The Forbes Gallery is a gem! The downtown location makes it a perfect starting point for a day exploring  Lower Manhattan. Admission is free. 

 The Forbes Galleries
62 Fifth Avenue (at 12th Street)
New York City
Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Quinevere- Necklace

Quinevere Necklace made from dried plant material. Philadelphia Flower Show- by Mimi Favre 2013. 

Again this year I have made a piece of jewelry from dried plant material for the Philadelphia Flower Show. Keeping to the British show theme, "Brilliant", this Artistic Jewelry Class is called, “Quinevere”- Necklace. That is all the direction one is given. The challenge is to interpret the theme (points for that) as well as make a well-crafted piece that ‘looks’ as if it could be worn (lot's of points). Sounds easy, but every time I make one of these pieces I totally underestimate how much time it will take and work to the last possible minute. 

After reading a bit about the legendary Queen, I settled on a period piece that would reflect femininity and her Christian beliefs. A friend saw the components before I finished and said “it looks just like your jewelry!" I really love this piece and would welcome a chance to make it in real gold with a beautiful ruby!

The creative process is a combination of finding interesting organic plant material by shape or texture and thinking of ways it could be used. Collecting is an ongoing process and I do have several boxes of potential seed pods, nuts, leaves, stems, berries, etc. The spice cabinet or pantry aren't off limits either- I used mustard seeds and lentils on this necklace.

I was walking outside one windy day a few weeks ago and picked up a dried cluster of hydrangeas that had blown over from my neighbors house. I had been thinking of making a thick chain and cross and this was the inspiration I needed to flesh out the design. The petals as stations on the chain are a classic form in the decorative arts known as a quatrefoil which was used in the Medieval period. I added the holly berry 'pearls' to visually break the chain and make this a strong yet feminine piece, something a Queen might wear. 
Updated- read how to on PHS Online
Components. Birch twig links, hydrangea Quatrefoil.
I made the cross, a very linear component, from verbena bonariensis (thank you Wendy). The links are made from green birch twigs, twisted onto chopsticks, left to dry, then cut into jump rings. Each one has to be glued closed. 
Quinevere Necklace- Cross and Quatrefoil.

Quinevere Necklace- verbena stem (squares), birch twig (links), holly berry 'pearls'. Mimi Favre. 2013

I was cleaning up the inevitable mess that I had made, a pile of discarded pieces, trial painted seeds, 'stone' settings not used, extra 'pearls' and thought, well, this picture says it all! I do paint ideas out first even thought the piece evolves organically.
Dried plant materials for Jewelry.

Quinevere Necklace. Hydrangea, beautyberry, verbena stems, holly berry, lentils and coriander.
Not shown, coffe bean (ruby).

Description card. MFavre 2013.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Antique Marquis Rose Cut Diamond Ring

Antique Marquis Rose Cut Diamond. Mimi Favre©
The original owner of this antique rose cut diamond was married in 1921. It stayed in the family and passed to a new bride in the mid-eighties. At that time the head mounting was removed from the original platinum ring and attached to a new more contemporary shank. And, unbeknownst to the client, the jeweler had made it in rhodium plated 14 karat yellow gold. It wasn't long before the 'white' wore away. A new platinum shank would have been a better choice.

After nearly three decades of everyday wear next to narrow gold band the shank was very misshapen and the stone was loose. The only safe alternative was to completely remake the ring. The client requested that the stone be set low and for the side diamonds to be as narrow as possible, unlike the previous. 

I made a new setting in wax, identical to the original and made the shank so that the tiny old miner side stones be set closer to the top. 

The diamond is eye clean, very white though a bit flat, however relatively large and completely unique. It really is a beautiful stone that has been in one family  for nearly one hundred years.
Old Diamond Ring. Favre©

New Ring. Antique Marquis Rose cut Diamond.  Favre©