Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Carrie Adell

One of the first - and most expensive - pieces of fine jewelry I bought for myself came from Carrie Adell. I had attended the American Craft Council show as a wholesaler in 1995 or '96. I was alone, undistracted by either my employers or friends, so I was able to take a leisurely look at the work of the many jewelry artists exhibiting that year. It was love at first sight when I spotted Adell's touchstones - hollow pebble form metal beads created using the marriage of metal techniques of shakudo and/or shibuichi - arranged simply in a display case. Each touchstone was different - some were large, some small, others were set with opals. The goldwork on the opal-set beads often mimicked the patterning in the opal itself.

The one I liked the most had two opals, set in 22k yellow gold. I wasn't sure what I would do with such a fancy bead. Surely I wasn't going to string it myself. Then Carrie showed me her convertible finding and suggested that she install one on the touchstone. The resulting piece of jewelry can be worn as a ring, with either the opal side or the "plain" side facing out or, with the shank swiveled up into a bale, as a pendant. I currently wear it on a simple woven gold chain, but have in the past worn it on an omega-style neckring.

I recently found that Carrie Adell passed away in July of 2001. Her daughter, Jo, works in jewelry, but she does not produce the same sort of intricate metalwork as her mother. This huge loss to the world of craft jewelry makes me extra grateful that I was able to obtain one of Adell's pieces. And glad I was smart enough to take the very-expensive-on-my-then-salary plunge!


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