Black & White Butterflies

These earrings combine two of my favourite things - buttons and pearls! I felt inspired to make them after seeing a great exhibition last year called  Pearls - Jewels from the Sea at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe. On display was an amazing variety of pearl jewellery and objects from all over the world - from tiaras worn by Queens to Marilyn Monroe's pearl strand necklace. It seems that pearls continue to be a timeless symbol of elegance.

The exhibition explored the history of pearls in various cultures spanning a period of about 2000 years. It examined the historical, cultural and scientific background of the pearl trade and later cultivation. Japan too, has a long association with pearls with Kobe being one of the key places where they are exported. I also learnt about a Japanese scientist and entrepreneur, Kokichi Mikimoto who pioneered a technique to culture perfectly spherical pearls in 1893. 

I love that natural pearls are created by a happy accident - when a tiny particle gets trapped inside an oyster and becomes the beginnings of a new pearl. It was suprising to learn that natural pearls are actually quite rare and that each and every one is unique.  Seeing the range of pearls on display at the exhibition (of pretty much any colour you could imagine) was really eye opening!  

Seeing the exhibition really got me thinking about using more pearls in the jewellery I make. Quite often, by using a pearl, you can add another layer to a piece of jewellery. So when I saw theses little butterfly buttons on a recent trip to Rollo,  I thought they'd look good paired with some pearls! I think they're perfect size for everyday drop earrings and even though they're small, they stand out when you wear them. Sometimes (at least when it comes to earrings) simple is best!

The buttons are new from Asia and are made of plastic in three layers - white, black and white. I think the design has been created by either cutting or etching away the butterfly shape from the top white layer so that the black shows through. I like how the design of the button is both simple and detailed. The contrasting black and white creates a stamp like effect.  The pearls were originally from a bracelet that I took apart so are living a new life now as earrings!

To make the earrings, I glued two metals plates to the back of each button so that I could hang the earring hooks from one side and pearls from the other. I'd like to try making another pair with black pearls next time!

What kind of pearls do you like?

In the Darkness

Lisa and me at her exhibition

Last week, I was lucky enough to see the latest exhibition of the very talented contemporary jeweller Liisa Hishimoto. She was at the gallery in Osaka when I visited so I had a chance to talk to her about her work. 

"In the Darkness" is a series of wearable sculptural pieces that I think look as lovely when worn on the body as they do in the exhibition. Inspired by equipment found in children's playgrounds, her works are both playful and a little somber.

Liisa used a variety of materials such as silver, brass and copper to create her intricately soldered pieces. Many of them are finished in a soft blue-grey acrylic paint. I particularly love this necklace/brooch (left) - you can wear it both ways!!! - as well as these playful earrings (right) which rock back and forth when you touch them. Not just fun to wear but fun to play with!

There is something a little magical and mysterious about the space Liisa creates between her work and the viewer. I like the way that her pieces are presented - on coffee stained boxes (also hand made by Liisa). Delicate line drawings peak out from the edges of the boxes along with snippets of quotes like echoes or memories from childhood. 

La Galerie

The exhibition is currently being held at La Galerie [Glan Fabrique] in Osaka. The building is a traditional Japanese house that's been converted into a gallery and cafe. Inside, exposed wooden beams give the space a slightly dark and cosy atmosphere that suits the theme of the exhibition.

I love the attention to detail that Liisa shows in the display of her work so that everything comes together to complement the jewellery - from the graphics to the display plinths and the delicate metal frames she makes for her pieces to rest on. When displayed like this, the jewellery casts beautiful shadows that look like line drawings come to life.

Liisa opens her studio space in Osaka once a month so I'd really recommend a visit if you want to see more of her work. (This was where I first met her). You can find out more information on her websiteblog or Facebook page.

For her next series, Liisa said she's planning to explore some different techniques and ideas - a bit of a departure from her current work. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with!