Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jewelry with content: "Sprout" celebrates new beginnings

I have been working with my newest collection "Sprout" for a while. It is based on the notion of a seed on the brink of bursting and letting out the already juicy and impatiently waiting sprout. The amulet symbolizes a future promise of becoming something great! Be it a new job, new year, new relationship or a new life forming inside the belly of a lucky woman...

The original version, which I still sell in my shop, was very simple and just tied into a lace of leather. However lately, I have transformed it into a collection of unisex pieces, featuring necklaces in 3 different sizes (2,6 cm, 2,2 cm and 1,5 cm) hung from a bail as well as bracelets. The large Sprout is a bold statement piece, mostly meant for men, while the middle size suits men as well as women. Both are held in place around the neck with a sturdy leather cord (smooth or braided) with a beautifully flowing S-hook to lock it into place. The smallest version however, is much more delicate ornament, and hence hangs by a slender silver chain.

The bracelet is based on the medium size and like the two larger necklaces fastened to the arm by a smooth or braided leather cord. Find this new collection of hope talismans at my homepage

Sprout necklace medium pendant, with smooth leather cord
1200 kr.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh the arts...

Artists create all sorts of art: paintings, sculpture, literature, jewelry and… music. Inspired by recent musical encounters, this issue is dedicated to thoughts on being an artist and especially how music and jewelry creators have certain traits in common

“I create, therefore I am” Michelangelo said, and I think this is true for every person who is creating any kind of art. Most of us aren’t famous and wealthy, and would probably do a lot better financially if we were doing other kinds of jobs, but I daresay, that any person who is doing art in any shape or form “for a living” is doing so, because he or she just can’t NOT do it. It’s a strange urge that drives us into constant refinement and exploration of our respective fields and when we manage to achieve something close to what we consider perfection, all is well – the heavens open, the angels sing, we smile and are calm, energized and happy.

At least that’s how it works for me, but I have been wondering lately, if that is the case for all artists. I know, that I create the best pieces when I am happy and feel good – often they come to me in the morning, just after waking up. Something I have seen in the days before that particular night has apparently crystalized into a new and very much Karin shape. See an example of that process here :

Others, however, use their pain and frustration as fuel for creation. The philosopher (okay, now I am taking the notion “art” onto another level completely) Kierkegaard said: What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music. People crowd around and say to him, "Sing again soon"- in other words, may new sufferings torture your soul.” While I understand the urge to create when being unhappy – freeing yourself or at least making some sense of your misery by expressing it - I am however unable to work like that myself, though it would be terribly bohemian, wouldn’t it?

Jewelry inspired by elven harp music

I call this issue the musical issue, because I have lately been very inspired by music when creating my own art. As you might have noticed, I was so fortunate as to host a small concert with the brilliant harp player Kim Skovby in my gallery at midsummer. If you weren’t able to join, here is a video:

The upcoming of this event spurred me into creating four pendants and a ring, all featuring the cool and opaque green chrysiophrase:

The harp pendant inspired by the shape of the Irish harp. I love both the shape and the sound of this instrument, and created my own silver version with a small chrysioprase and – of cause – strings of gold. 3100 kr.

The Lyra ring inspired by the ancient harp of antiquity. This symmetrical harp is naturally lending its shape to my love for curls. A large oval chrysiophrase is featured as the centerpiece, while small golden balls dance non-symmetrically along the lines of the instrument. As an extra little treat, I have cut out a tiny artwork at the back, which will become the personal secret of the future bearer. 2800 kr

The G-notes inspired pendants are right up my alley: elegant and curly shapes created with wire. All are adorned with small chrysioprazes and the smallest with happy golden balls. This will look good on a shorter chain, while the two larger ones I think are best on 70-80 cm chains. 2800 kr - 1400 for the larger ones made of only silver

By the way: Kim will be performing at the gallery again later this year. We are fondly playing with the idea of a Tolkien inspired concert leading up to the launch of the new Hobbit movies this winter. I’ll keep you informed on the exact date as we get closer!

Your gift to me as an artist

Kims lovely and calm music in the somewhat private setting of my gallery was a complete contrast to “Kløften Festival” – a music festival in my hometown Haderslev in Southern Jutland. I haven’t attended this festival for 20 years and it was definitely a very interesting trip down memory lane when I finally joined the fun this summer.

However, unlike previous concert experiences, this time I found myself identifying with the performing artists on stage. Our media is different for sure, but as I watched the small and still rather unknown indie/rock band Öberg on one of the smaller stages, it occurred to me, that both of us strive for perfection. What I also realized was, that while we are totally engulfed in each our art, being absolute experts on it, we will probably never be completely satisfied with what we create. I listened to a band, which I judged very professional and talented, but I am sure, that they themselves constantly heard each other play a chord slightly off or being just not quite on track with the others.

In the same way I am almost never 100% satisfied with my pieces and always find some larger or smaller fault. I have accepted that most of my customers will never see these “flaws” or just perceive them as a part of a perfect whole and that, in fact, is a gift from you to me:

Just like I was able to enjoy the concerts by the many musicians at the festival, thereby telling them, that their work is great and seems like a perfect work of art to me, you are able to see and appreciate the whole of my pieces and not the tiny details that I, as a somewhat nerdy professional tend to obsess about.
My work looks perfect as it is mirrored in the eyes of you, my wonderful customers.

Thank you so much for that gift!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A fabulous mermaid necklace

My jewelry is very much inspired by fairytales – or at least looks like it could have emerged from one. Once in a while I like to create something which refers directly to a specific fairytale. I have made a Snow Queen brooch and a Rapunzel full – body adornment and now I felt like paying homage to the Little Mermaid, another story by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, which he wrote in 1836.

Actually I have been dreaming about creating this necklace for the last two years, when I happened upon a lovely facet cut aquamarine heart. I have made countless sketches, which I have abandoned again, because they just didn’t work. 

And so I went back to square one and started pondering on the story: What was it that happened in the end? The text says, that as the little Mermaid dies, her body dissolves into foam, but instead of ceasing to exist, she feels the warmth of the sun; she has turned into a spirit, a daughter of the air. The other daughters of the air tell her she has become like them because she strove with all her heart to gain an eternal soul. Especially since she refused to kill the prince in order to regain her fish tail. Now she will earn her own soul by doing good deeds for 300 years; for each good child she found, she would obtain one year less while, for each bad child, she would cry, and each tear would mean one month more and she will eventually become an angel.

Well, I would like to believe, that the physical heart of this tragic figure, which so valiantly dies for love, petrifies into an aquamarine during this cleansing process. This beautiful facet cut stone eventually washes ashore to be found amidst the glittering seaweed on the beach.
Right. Seaweed. That’s some black stuff that smells bad when it dries up, but while still fresh it is actually rather soft and glittering from the water.

I chose to do a combination and went for a design made of two layers of seaweed cut from a sheet of 1 mm silver, adorned with balls of 14 k gold and 5 diamonds set in some of these balls for glitter. The silver was to be oxidized for contrast. The pearl? Well, it looks pretty and has a natural sea-touch to it, right?

So, here we go:
A sketch, the stone and the outer layer of seaweed. I have already filed the edges of the silver into soft, 3 dimensional shapes to give it the organic grown texture.

Bent together, it already seems to frame the heart beautifully

Then the back layer. I cut out the part of the seaweed which was going to shape the hoop and folded it down over the finished silver part. 

Then I started sketching: Where would it be most harmonious to have the back part peeping forth? Balance was very important!

This was the result. No symmetry (I hate symmetry) but balance – absolutely!

The back layer is cut, filed and bent into place. Does it fit? Yes it does!

Now the golden balls. Again: Symmetry is out, but balance paramount.

After setting the heart and the diamonds (a total of 0,09 carat W/VS), I carefully oxidized the piece and attached the pearl. I have to say, it looks fabulous! Not exactly a lightweight piece of jewelry, but oh so sumptuous!

In the gallery I have created this little display for the necklace, explaining it and giving it the perfect backdrop. The blown glass bell gives a lovely rippled effect as the light shines through – just like it would had the sun been shining through shallow water.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Year of the dragon jewelry

On the 23rd of January the Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the year of the dragon. I am not very much into astrology (western or otherwise) myself, but I am very much into dragons, and so I had to check out what this supposedly means – this year of the (water) dragon. Turns out, that I want to believe it this year! And so I have of cause made a special version of my Dragonling pendant with a smooth blue topaz drop.

You can purchase your very own
2012 water dragon on Etsy or Amio if you live in Denmark

So, why am I so thrilled about 2012?

The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 animals and each of these animals come in 5 different elements (Read much more about the Chinese Zodiac here)

The last Year of the Dragon, which occurred in 2000, was fraught with fear. There was a lot of hand wringing about the collapse of our technological world, the Y2K bug and other millennial prophecies that turned out to be more hype than bite.

The Year of the Dragon is again just around the corner and fear and trepidation are once more an issue. This time it’s the Mayan Calendar and the alleged 2012 Armageddon prophecy. Is the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which comes around every 12 years, truly something to be feared?

Unlike the wicked, fire-breathing dragons of Western mythology, China’s celestial dragon symbolizes potent and benevolent power. Dragons are ancient, majestic, wise, and intelligent, and Dragon years are considered particularly auspicious for new businesses (hooray! That means my gallery!), marriage and children. Dragon years also tend to boost individual fortunes and the world economy (we surely need that and as I write this, there seems to be a SLIGHT improvement going on. Perhaps the dragon is starting to kick in?)

It’s also true, however, that all five of the Chinese Dragon years — Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water — tend to magnify both success and failure. So while they can mark huge achievement, disasters can be equally immense. The Year of the Fire Dragon (1917, 1976, and 2036) typically wreaks the most havoc.

However, the Year of the Water Dragon (1992, 1952 and 2012) is noted for its calm, visionary intelligence, and balance of right brain creativity with left brain logic.

So, what influence might the Water Dragon, which rules from January 23, 2012 to February 9, 2013, have on the powerful energies already anticipated at that time?

Like all Dragons, the Water Dragon is an innovative, fearless leader. But the Water Dragon is also far more sensitive to others’ needs, and is more likely to be progressive and diplomatic, as well as socially and environmentally conscious (and we surely need that badly too!) Because Water bestows a more peaceful disposition, this Dragon will act wisely and intelligently, and unlike his fellow Dragons, is willing to set aside his ego for the good of all.

This Dragon is a successful negotiator, and while he is adept at marketing, he also knows how to apply force skillfully when necessary. On the down side, the Water Dragon sometimes forgets to build a solid foundation for his grand plans, and he can hold on too long to pet ideas and projects, and thus create a famous Dragon-sized disaster.

If you subscribe to the dawn-of-a-new-era theory of 2012, then it’s easy to see how the influence of the Water Dragon will increase the likelihood of success for progressive movements gaining momentum all across the globe (I am sure the Occupy movement reads this with interest). Energy conservation and green energy-producing technologies, curtailing Global Warming, challenges to multinational corporations, attention to world hunger and the renewed health of the oceans and sea creatures will all likely fare well (more cheering).

If your expectations tend more toward disaster, then you might expect tsunamis, hurricanes, monsoons and other weather extremes to be in the headlines (so we elegantly jump over this prediction).
But of all the Dragon years, the 2012 Water Dragon is most likely to bestow the Chinese Five Blessings of harmony, virtue, riches, fulfillment and longevity, adding even more weight to the growing belief that 2012 will be about breakthroughs, not disasters.

Oh we like this prediction, don’t we? I do – let’s celebrate and keep focus by wearing the dragon!
Go get your very own 2012 water dragon and have a stunning 2012!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A tiara in honor of a splendid monarch

On Saturday the 14th of January our beloved Queen Margrethe II celebrates her 40th jubilee as a monarch of Denmark. There will be balls, concerts etc and of cause all will be covered extensively by the two national TV stations DR and TV2.

Inspired by this event and the fabulous jewelry of the Russian Zar family, I have created a new tiara. This is my most regal looking so far and I am completely in love with it. I wanted a very crown-like style, though still keeping a certain non-symmetrical look. I created the tiara of almost 2m of 1,5 mm sterling silver wire and adorned it with a large facet cut quartz crystal and 14 smaller white topazes.

This tiara has, together with my small princess crown, been lent to TV2 to be worn by the hostesses throughout their coverage of the events on the 14th of January. So, tune in on Saturday and see some of the Castens tiaras live!

Read more about the royal family and the anniversary here.

Psst: 14th of January is my birthday. Funny to have all Denmark celebrate ;-)

How did I create it?
Okay, back to the tiara: I spent my Christmas holidays in Finland at the home of my boyfriends family. When not eating or walking in the snow (yep – we had a white Christmas) I worked on my newest tiara design. I wanted the look of the regal tiaras, which, as I learned from the program on the Russian splendors, is based on a traditional Russian adornment for women: the kokoshnik. Take a look at these pictures of royal kokoshnik style tiaras to get a drift of what I wanted to accomplish (though with substantially fewer stones).

My technique to get the right dimensions was to work with paper models. Actually it took me quite a while to reach the right shape and size, cutting, testing and cutting again. My Finnish family watched in wonder ;-) Finally I was ready to create the design itself and I drew quite a few versions

Eventually I chose this one over the others. It's not symmetrical, not too high on the head and has a nice even distribution of stones. I was still unsure about all the balls, but I knew that this was the basic shape I wanted. Then I started testing with stones and ended up using mostly white topazes. I wanted a large white topaz at the center too, but couldn't get my hands on one large enough right now and hence settled for a quartz crystal.

Okay, off we go shaping all the swirls and waves of 1,5 mm silver wire. It took quite a while and I have to admit: my fingers were quite sore once I was done!

As allways, I wanted to hammer part of the swirls in order to get that whiplash effect. Here I have marked the areas to hammer with a black marker.

Chiming on the amboss is over and now the tricky part: soldering. A tiara is large and hence I have to heat everything which requires a big flame. But the hammered details are much thinner than the rest and risk melting if I'm not careful.

Eventually I managed to do the entire soldering in only 3 go’s, making disaster much less likely during the process

I decided not to add all the balls – maybe in a later design, but this one I wanted simple.
I had a little space issue: my pickle pot it too small! I need a bigger one, most definitely!

Right, all the soldering is done and initial renovation too. Now of for setting the stones.

After a last finish this is the end result. I am quite satisfied I have to say and hope, someone will wear this tiara with joy! See more pictures of the Zarina tiara at my homepage