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