Endless talk of all things sparkly.

Maker & Muse: Women & 20th Century Art Jewelry

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Learning is one of my most favorite things to do, so each year I try to partake in something educational that is jewelry-related.  This year, an exhibit held in conjunction with a jewelry conference made for an enticing trip to Chicago for ASJRA’s Women & 20th Century Art Jewelry event.  The conference featured speakers with expertise in some pretty interesting jewelry topics related to Art Nouveau jewelry and Chicago Arts & Crafts jewelry. I was really excited to hear Elyse Zorn Karlin speak about her role curating the exhibit at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, located in Chicago, which is also the topic of a newly released (Feb. 2015) jewelry book, shown above.  A weekend of jewelry learning, visiting the exhibit to see the jewelry in person, and catching up with my jewelry BFF, Jenn of Bellflower Bay made for a perfect weekend!

After meeting up at the airport upon disembarking our planes, Jenn and I got off to a fun start with some jewelry treasure hunting in Chicago.  With a limited amount of time we headed over to Oak Park and visited Gem Jewelry Boutique and The Gold Hatpin. Chicago-style pizza was next on our menu of things-to-do and our room at the Dana Hotel & Spa was the perfect backdrop for our jewelry trip.  The next morning we headed to the carriage house of the Glessner House Museum, where the conference took place–ideally fitting since it was the former home of Mrs. Frances Glessner, an accomplished Chicago Arts & Crafts jeweler and member of a prominent family. The conference focused on Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts Jewelry, a topic that I find very interesting and a time period that I needed to build more knowledge on.  

The topics included:

Art Nouveau Jewelry; Yvonne Markowitz and Emily Banis Stoerher 

Arts & Crafts Jewelry in Chicago; Sharon Darling

Beyond Chicago: Midwestern Arts & Crafts Jewelry and Metalworkers; Darcy Evon

The Jewels of Louis Comfort Tiffany; Annamarie Sandecki

British Arts & Crafts Jewelry in the Richard H. Driehaus Collection; Elyse Zorn Karlin

Jugendstil Jewelry; Janis Staggs

Madeline Yale Wynne: I Hate Pretty Work; Suzanne Flynt

The collection of early 20th Century Art Nouveau jewelry that Mr. Driehaus has collected over the past 15 years and has carefully chosen to put on display for the world to see was entirely too fascinating for me! Being surrounded by stained glass and furniture of the same time period, in a restored mansion made the experience that much more special.  The unique tiled walls, marble upon marble everywhere, and art all corresponding, as if you stepped back in time. The book Maker & Muse takes you through each piece of jewelry on display, along with background information on the time period and remarks from curators and Mr. Driehaus himself.  The groundbreaking exhibit is the most extensive to date in terms of extent of a collection from jewelry of this particular time period.  The intention of the exhibit is to also highlight the role of women, both as inspiration and muse during this time, as well as designers and makers themselves.  I took several photos from my visit to the museum, which is awesome that they let you take photos since so many of the latest headlining jewelry exhibits ban photo-taking.  Featured are more than 250 pieces of jewelry, all created during this time where artisans were reacting to the industrialization of the world and forging new alternative designs with a bold artistic emphasis.  Every piece is detailed, handwrought and inspired by nature, flowing lines and women.  For the most part, the jewelry on display is a part of Mr. Driehaus’ collection, but several pieces are pulled and displayed from prominent private collectors, including Neil Lane.  

>> To visit the Richard H. Driehaus jewelry exhibit, check out the museum’s website; on exhibit from February 14, 2015-January 3, 2016.

>> To purchase a copy of Maker and Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry, click here. .




The Richard H. Driehaus Museum
40 East Erie Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611