|Queen of the Nile (c) 1979 Atelier Ivaan|
Monday, March 3, 2014
QUEEN OF THE NILE
Two things distinguish Ivaan's metal art from all the other jewellery in the world. The first is how difficult Ivaan's work is to photograph. No jewellery is easy to photograph; it's shiny and it's rarely two-dimensional. Ivaan's jewellery is notoriously hard to photograph. It's very three-dimensional, never symmetrical. Its detail is often quite layered: fine beading juxtaposed against tangled vines, shiny surfaces highlighting matte or dark-toned interstices. Focusing on one feature means ignoring another.
The second thing that separates Ivaan's work from others' is the amount of effort involved in making it. Now and again, I'll be asked to make a standard piece of jewellery for someone. I'm always surprised how quickly I'm able to finish it. Ivaan's work, by comparison, takes ten times as long to complete. There are so many surfaces to consider, and each one of those surfaces has the potential for disaster. Whenever I'm working on an Ivaan piece and I spot a flaw, I let my impulsive side take over and I immediately cut the piece apart, so I won't be tempted to try and correct the flaw. Time and experience have taught me that I could spend hours trying to repair a piece but it will never be up to Ivaan's standard. So I scrap it and start over.
Making a simple piece of jewellery can be very pleasant, but I am keenly aware that it's only engaging the lazy side of my brain. If I want to flex my jewellery-making muscles, making a vintage piece by Ivaan is a surefire way to challenge myself. A few weeks ago, a wonderful couple stopped by. They had admired Ivaan's work previously, wanted to have a special ring made, and had been looking as far away as Australia for a design that they both loved.
In perusing samples of Ivaan's work, I noticed they were particularly attracted to the 1979-80 era. This was the time frame in which Ivaan made a collection of Egyptian-themed jewellery for the Art Gallery of Ontario's first King Tutankhamun exhibition. It happens to be a body of work of which I am incredibly fond, but the pieces in that collection are very complex, despite seeming simple at first glance.
They decided on a ring that I call the slant-top, and wanted to incorporate a collection of gems that had special significance to them. I just finished their Egyptian slant-top ring this afternoon. It's yellow gold, with an emerald and nine diamonds. It makes me think of a comet streaking across the sky, over a lush green island.
I call it Queen of the Nile. Cleopatra would be so jealous.