The Chatelaine

Another Saturday, another musing from me!  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes I have ideas that roll around my brain for years.  Lately I’ve been thinking about Chatelaines.  What’s that, you say?  A chatelaine was traditionally a way to cart around everyday useful items, like keys, scissors, etc. without weighing down a pocket.  They could be quite decorative, and they were usually attached to a pocket or a belt. They were worn by both men and women, but I most often think of them worn by women, as they were frequently worn by the woman of the house, or a housekeeper. You can read a bit more about them here.

My fascination with them began a number of years ago, when I saw this one:

I love the intricate details, it was amazing to view in person.

In fact, it’s been so long that I had to look it up to figure out if it was from the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK) or one of the other UK museums I’ve visited many times.  It was the Victoria and Albert. In fact, you can view many other examples from their archive here

So, I’ve been thinking about what a more modern chatelaine might carry.  Not surprisingly, probably not that many differences to what you can see in historical examples for everyday use.  How about as a goldsmith?  That’s a bit of an interesting question… for me, maybe a notebook and pencil (for when inspiration strikes), keys, a scribe (a kind of pen for metal), small files, scissors, tweezers, all things that are handy for a goldsmith, but still all kind of pedestrian  really.

No, what I’ve really been thinking about is what the modern immunologist’s chatelaine would look like, which is more conceptual really (and fits in with my background and some of my interests).  So, scissors (what aren’t those useful for???), but my scissors might be molecular scissorsT cells, B cells and macrophages would be a must, antibodies and plasmids are always useful too!  Not sure what else, I shall have to think some more.

Yes, my skills at doodling are nothing to write home about, but anyway, here’s a quick impression of what MY chatelaine might look like in my brain!

If you were making your own chatelaine, what would you put on it? 

Happy Saturday from the Blue House in Roncy!


House of Cassady

New art jewellery from House of Cassady

As an independent goldsmith, I make a fair number of pieces that are small batch productions, so, while they are all unique in their own way, they’re still of a similar design, and generally use similar methods.  Part of my practice, to keep exercising my creative muscles is to challenge myself to make larger pieces on a semi-regular basis.  Last year, I made this piece:

Oxidised sterling silver, 10k yellow gold, blue topaz and sapphire necklace with roller printed elements and two-tone blue needled felt. This necklace is very kinetic, and hangs about 19″ long.

If you’re familiar with some of my work, you’ll see that it incorporates a lot of different elements from other pieces that I’ve made, but puts them together in a new and more elaborate way, incorporating some gold and more precious gems than I might normally use.  (If you’re interested in more information about why I use these elements, you can read a bit more here.)

This year, I set myself a similar goal: to make a larger, statement piece, that incorporates a lot of elements that I normally use, in a larger format, and incorporating or extending my skills at the same time.  This piece presented some challenges for me, in terms of the physical construction, because I couldn’t use a lot of my normal techniques to create the individual pieces.  This made it a lot of fun (I like practical problem solving/troubleshooting), but also rather frustrating at times. 

This necklace is part of my sci/art collections, and is entitled Invaders/Defenders. Since it is more specifically an art jewellery piece, the design is associated with different symbolism for me.  The piece has two different finishes.  The oxidised/dark element represents the infectious invaders, with the mostly oval cabochon sapphires being reminiscent of a bacterial shape, and the random placement showing some of the disorder that happens in the infection process.  In contrast, the matte silver/light element represents the immune cells that defend against infection and disease, with the incorporation of texture and irregular cutouts. The more organic nature of the circular shape of the two larger elements reflect the cellular/tissue environment where these biological entities interact, and the two elements are united in a continuous loop with a steel cable, as the different sides of this process are irrevocably linked in biology.

I’m really pleased with the overall effect of the piece, what do you think?  Would you be interested in some smaller pieces in a similar style of one of the elements, perhaps as a brooch or a pendant?

You can contact me here to start a dialogue about this piece, and commission a new work.  I look forward to your comments.

Have a great Saturday!


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