Friday, May 19, 2017

How it's Made: Modern and Minimal Mixed Metal Jewelry

Deriving inspiration from modernist designers and architects, our modern and minimal mixed metal jewelry by artist Sue Rosengard embodies an enviable balance of form and function.

After studying French and residing in Paris and Italy, Rosengard returned to her home town of Chicago to pursue her true passion of designing and crafting jewelry. Today we get a glimpse into her studio and a sneak peak at her process in this edition of "How it's Made."

Rosengard's studio is conveniently situated in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, an area with a high concentration of artist's lofts and live-work spaces. While there is plenty of daily inspiration in close proximity, the artist cites her upbringing among the modernist, minimal skyscrapers of Chicago as being highly influential to her work. 
 Using sterling silver, vermeil and gold-plate, she cuts, drills, casts and stamps the metals before hand-forming the wire to achieve her designs. Using simple hand tools and no forms or jigs, wire is skillfully arched, angled and adorned with etched accent beads.

The result is thoughtfully designed, exquisitely crafted and endlessly versatile geometric jewelry that complements the wearer's individual style and personality.

You can find this lovely jewelry in our Main and Modern Wing stores and online right here:

Proceeds form all sales support the museum's collection and many programs.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Salvador Dali's Birthday

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." - Salvador Dali

Today is the birthday of Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marqués de Dalí de Púbol (11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989) or Salvador Dali, an artist as innovative as he was eccentric.  Dali was a painter, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker, graphic artist, set and fashion designer and writer, among many other things. Dali is most renowned as a founder of the Surrealist movement, and for his extensive use of symbolism in his painting, employing peculiar and unorthodox imagery as narrative features.

 Dali's grandiose behavior often distracted from his artistic virtuosity, much to the chagrin of his ardent supporters. In 1936, Dali nearly suffocated while delivering a lecture wearing a diving suit as a metaphor for delving deep into the human subconscious. Fortunately, the suit was pried off with a billiard cue and Dali went on to complete the lecture and live another 53 unconventional years. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How it's Made: Fair Trade Kantha Jewelry

Would you like to help fashion a better world? 

Our fair trade Kantha jewelry collection is inspired by the vibrancy of India. Colorful cotton textile scraps are transformed into unique beads used for necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. These statement-making pieces add a brilliant pop of color for any occasion. They also provide an immense amount of good by forging a path out of poverty for women in need.

The Kantha jewelry is handcrafted by artisans in India who are part of a cooperative that follows the principles of fair trade. This means that each piece purchased creates opportunity for marginalized women and their families. Fair Trade principles ensure proper pay, safe working conditions, ongoing training and education, no child labor, and respect for the environment.  

The process begins with the bead bases. Each sustainable bead is made from scraps collected from the local furniture factory. Kantha sari quilts are a traditional textile in India made from layers of worn cotton saris, sewn together with a distinctive, allover running stitch. Each wooden bead is covered with the fabric and strung on wire, transforming them into necklaces, bracelets and earrings and repurposing the materials. Finally, the artisans carefully assort the beads to insure a vibrant combination of colors as unique as the individual who made it! 

When you're wearing our Kantha jewelry you'll feel great ethically and aesthetically.

Long Kantha Necklace/ Kantha Multi-Strand Bracelet/ Kantha Cuff Bracelet

 Purchase our Kantha jewelry: Kantha Jewelry

Proceeds from all purchases support the artisans as well as the museum's programming.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

How it's Made: Water Lily Jewelry

One of our enduring favorite flowers at The Art Institute of Chicago is the water lily, an inspiration for many iconic works of Impressionist painter Claude Monet. The translucent lavender petals of our Water Lily Pin and Earrings capture the luminous beauty of these ephemeral flowers in jewelry form. These exquisite treasures are handmade in Wakefield, Rhode Island by artist Micheal Vincent Michaud who grew up surrounded by craftsmen in his father's jewelry studio. Here he acquired many foundational skills through observation which he later fused with his own passion for art glass, creating a hybrid practice. 

In today's edition of "How it's Made" take a closer look at his process using and adapting the traditional lost wax casting method.

First, models are hand-carved in the artist's studio using wax to capture exquisite detail and inspiration from natural or design elements. The was is placed in a tube and surrounded by molding material. Once the material hardens, the wax is melted out and the remaining mold is filled with heated, molten glass which takes the shape of the mold.

Finally, the mold is dissolved leaving an impression of the negative space and in this case, revealing the delicate shape of the flower. 

Finally, the lavender petals and bold green leaves are hand-cast and gilded in 24K matte gold, creating an aesthetic amalgam of artistic and natural beauty.

With so many possibilities, where will you wear your wearable work of art?  
Click here to purchase: Water Lily Earrings/Water Lily Pin

Handmade jewelry can be found in the museum's permanent collection. Proceeds from your purchases support  the Art Institute of Chicago.

Friday, April 21, 2017

In Focus: Elegant Tie Dyed Scarves

Tie dye, elevated. 

Our newest scarves are to dye for. 

Handmade in Detroit by a small group of designers and artisans, these sustainable scarves and shawls contain only natural dyes in unique color combinations. The production philosophy is distinct from that of traditional manufacturing in that the intent is to make something exclusive for each customer, thereby encouraging authenticity and originality. With brilliant liquid color and a practically supernatural softness, these scarves look and feel amazing. Whether you're searching for a truly special Mother's Day gift or something to make your spring wardrobe stand out, you'll satisfy your sartorial needs with our singularly artistic scarves. Don't miss the video of the creation process at the bottom of the page!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Artist's Spotlight: Joan Miro's Birthday

I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music. -Joan Miro

Today is the birthday of innovative Spanish artist Joan Miro (April 20, 1893 - December 25, 1983)!

In his routine experimentation with a rigorous biomorphism and enigmatic iconography, Joan Miro's work was central to Modernism's shift towards pure abstraction. In this way and through experimentation with the interplay of colors, he would become a progenitor and inspiration for the Color Field painters to come after him.  

How do you see his artistic concerns manifested in these 3 works from the Art Institute's collection?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring 2017 Trunk Show: You're Invited!

We are excited to announce our Spring 2017 Trunk Show! Whether you're looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift or spring accessory, you're certain to find a treasure among our assortment, featuring an extraordinary mix of mediums and materials. It's an ideal time to stop and shop! Read on for a sneak peek at the assortment and event details. 

Semi-precious jewelry by Chicago artist Rachel Erceg.
Handmade sterling silver and mixed metal jewelry by designers Zina and Sue Rosengard.
 Handmade jewelry by Chicago designer Nakamol.

Hand-painted textiles by local artist Joanna Alot.
We hope to see you there!

Facebook event page: Spring Trunk Show Facebook Event