Elyse Zorn Karlin

Jewelry and Metalwork in the Arts and Crafts Tradition

August 25, 2005

The Washington, DC GIA chapter hosted Elyse Zorn Karlin, author of JEWELRY AND METALWORKING IN THE ARTS AND CRAFTS TRADITION, on August 25, 2005.

Chapter president Toby Fitzkee with guest Eric Hoffman

Chapter president Toby Fitzkee with guest Eric Hoffman

Ms. Karlin�s very informative lecture/discussion included slides on her passion��Arts and Crafts jewelry. The brief history of the Arts and Crafts movement which she presented helped to create a reference framework in which to understand the uniqueness of this jewelry. Art Nouveau and Art Deco have a defined style, and one needs to study both periods in order to better identify pieces of jewelry that are Arts and Crafts. This jewelry was an extension of the movement before and after the turn of the 19th century.

Speaker Karlin with Davia Kramer

Speaker Karlin with Davia Kramer

William Morris is considered the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement in England. His furniture designs reflected his own reaction to the Industrial Revolution and a rejection of mass production. Ms. Karlin�s slide presentation of English and American Arts and Crafts jewelry pieces offered examples of English and American designers, many of whom were not jewelry designers per se but relied on an architectural background.

Robert Pellenbarg and Bruce Gaber

Robert Pellenbarg and Bruce Gaber

The value of a piece was in the craftsmanship, individuality, and imagination that were paramount in the hand-making of each one. Materials were not the important factor. Usually base metals or silver were used and stones were selected for color, not quality. Hammer marks were often visible. Twisted wire and enamel were important. There was a rejection of Victorian fashion with its stone-cluttered pieces. Designs were heavily based on nature and creators resorted to utilizing unusual materials such as coconut, shell, glass, abalone, and shagreen.

Speaker Elyse Zorn Karlin

Speaker Elyse Zorn Karlin

The Arts and Crafts movement spread throughout Europe and the United States. Several jewelry makers in Boston, Providence, Chicago, and New York as well as other cities produced quality handcrafted pieces for their high-end trade and did some mass production for middle class clients. Flowers, foliage and Celtic designs were often enhances with stones and enamels. Arts and Crafts jewelry creation ended with World War I and examples of these pieces have become highly collectible in the last two decades. Ms. Karlin�s book would be a valuable resource to any collector.

Written by Marcia Rickman

Photographs by Bill Scherlag

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