Monday, February 28, 2011

Gilded Lily

A lovely flower, shiny as a jewel.  But what is it made of?  I'll give you a hint; it's not what you expect!

Onion skin, papyrus leaves, clove, tangerine peel, some paint and nail polish, and a bit of wire to give it stability!

Wait! What?!

Welcome to the world of the Philadelphia International Flower Show, and more specifically the Jewelry Competition.

The Philadelphia International Flower Show is one of the largest and oldest horticultural shows in the world, and also one of my family's annual traditions.  There are lots of spectacular displays and hundreds of different competitions.  The fairly tiny jewelry competition is been my Mother's and my favorite.

The rules are deceptively simple: use plant material to make something that looks like jewelry.  You can use glue and paint (most commonly nail polish) for color, and non-plant material for structure as long as it doesn't show.

The results are usually breathtaking, and very surprising.  The artists have scoured their gardens and wild areas, scoped out the grocery store, and raided their spice cabinets for the perfect pearl stand in, the most interesting shaped seedpod to incorporate.

here are some example from past years.

Every year my Mom and I crowd around the bright cases, talking about how we would have judged differently or changed the piece this way or that.  With my Mother as a fine arts jeweler , and me as a seamstress we couldn't resist it's siren song.  This year it's our turn!

The Flower Show theme this year is "Springtime in Paris" and the specific competition we entered is "A brooch and earring set inspired by a French jeweler"

We chose René Lalique an Art Nouveau  artist from the turn of the century who did quite a bit of 
Plique-à-jour: transparent enamel with no backing.  We both love Art Nouveau, so it's a perfect match!

Here is some of our inspiration: 

We chose lilies as our inspiration as they are the traditional flower of France (often depeicted as the symbolic Fleur de Lise.

We are mostly done the piece, and planning on finishing with a final work session tomorrow; which is good because we must drop it off at the show this coming Friday.  

The plant materials we are using are: 
  • Onion Skin
  • Tangerine Peel
  • Papyrus Leaves
  • Clove Buds
  • Sago Palm Leaves
  • Lentils
  • Corn Husk
  • Hazelnuts
  • Chick Peas
  • Bamboo

We will find out the results this coming Saturday, so expect to hear about them (and the rest of the show) sometime Sunday.

Here is an early "work in progress" photo to give some idea of what we are using.

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