June 2011 Archives

(This is something new, for me at least, a review of a museum exhibit.)

While in New York this past weekend, I went to the oft-extended Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met, Savage Beauty.  I was impressed by the clothing and related accessories on display, having known almost nothing about the man before except the few "shocking" pieces that rose above the background noise of "who are you wearing" that surrounds big red-carpet affairs. The pieces spanned his post-college work through the last collection he did, which as presented posthumously in the past year, and gave a good evolutionary progression.  The early works show the clear influence of his prior work as a Saville Row tailor, not yet the insanity of the future, and the later pieces show the context of the great insanity that was commonly known.  Alongside the clothing were some of the usual accessories, hats, shoes and jewelry, and some unusual bits, such as laser-cut wood wings and a cast-aluminum corset in the form of a spine and ribs. 

  Where the exhibit really shown was in the displays and related settings.  Each of the rooms had a theme, with the interiors decorated to match, and these were done quite excellently.  Many of the pieces were shown alongside video of the original collection show, including a piece that was spray-painted by robots on stage and a series of chess themed works that played a game.  All of the manikins were masked in some way to hide the blank heads, and even the masks were customized to the exhibit room's theme.
  The only drawback to the exhibition was that there was no clear progression, each room opened onto the next from the middle of a wall, so you could not simply follow the sense of the exhibit to see all the works, which led to weird traffic issues.  There was also a wait to get in, about 30 min when we were there, but it was managed well enough not to be too annoying. 

  Overall I'd say it was much better then I'd thought it would be, highly recommended for anyone interested in fashion, and still recommended for those who just like a good show



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Presented without comment from New York's 2011 Pride Parade, approx 36th st and 5th Ave

A Nickel's Change.jpg


At SIHH 2011 Cartier(previously mentioned) released a version of their Rotonde de Cartier with a Plique-à-jour enamel dial of a polar bear. Plique-à-jour enamel filled in the spaces between thin wires, like cloisonne, but without a backing plate - the enamel is translucent like a miniature stained-glass window. Like many other styles of enamel, it was quite popular during the Art Deco period, and has since fallen from fashion.

(Photo from Kee Hua Chee but his assertion of copyright is absolute crap)

For those interested, they've now put out a brief interview with Ines Hamaguchi on the making of that enamel dial


They're not the original to the core of Christianity in the way they've become, only coming into play in the 5th century and appearing in their common form in the 6th, but the Seven Deadly Sins are firmly rooted in popular culture, from Dante's Inferno to the movie SevenStephen Webster(previously mentioned), who fancies himself something of a bad-boy when it comes to jewelry design, released a collection of rings on the theme late last year.

Envy, in the classic green
Gluttony, kind of a disturbing piece with your finger always going into, and out of, the grimacing teeth
Greed, using more metal then embelishments
Pride in full peacock splendor
A stone reclining on a ottoman of Sloth
Hands clenched at the throat of Wrath

Though all the designs may not be to my taste, these are impeccably executed and show a cleverness of design that, for most of them, is not at the expense of function. I can think of many contemporary designers who could have taken these concepts and done them neither so artfully nor with such technical skill.



DeBethune DB25

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Another watch for the Only Watch 2011 auction (mentioned previously) is this special edition of the DeBethune DB25.  In a 44mm white-gold case is a unusual 6-day manually wound movement(a variant of the DB2115 I believe) with a balance wheel made of silicon and platinum.  The dial depicts what the sky is calculated to have looked like on January 8, 1297, when François Grimaldi captured the fortess of Monaco, site of the auction.  The 105 stars of the constellations Gemini and Orion are represented by a combination of white gold dots and small diamonds. 


Time is told, if you care about such proletarian things as telling time on a watch, via a fixed hand and 2 moving rings, seen through the aperture at the bottom (so it is 8:16 on the picture)

Though I don't particularly care that Boucheron (mentioned before) has opened a boutique in Beijing, I do wish to use that news to present the Bagha ring, from their Cabinet of Curiosities collection (mentioned before).  Constructed of rose gold and pavee set with black and yellow sapphires and white diamonds, it features cabochon emerald eyes and a large oval-cut red spinel center stone.


See CIJ International Jewelry for the story about Beijing



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This is easy, sir, I'll warrant you. You have about you fools and madmen that can dance very well, and 'tis no wonder your best dancers are not the wisest men: the reason is, with often jumping they jolt their brains down into their feet, that their wits lie more in their heels than in their heads.

From The Changeling by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley

Taken from a newly scanned incunabula from Harvard's Houghton library:
Roscius, Lucius Vitruvius, 16th century. De docendi stvdendíqve modo, ac de claris puerorum moribus, libellus ... L. Vitrvvio Roscio parmensi autore, cui adiecimus etiam alios eiusdem argumenti libellos aliquot ... Basileae [ex officina Roberti VVinter, 1541]. IC5 R7355 536dc. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.



Mindful of Silver

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From Friday May 27 to Saturday July 16 the Goldsmith's Company of London has an exhibit of the work of a dozen modern silversmiths. Here are some of the pieces on display.

David Clark worked with an antique spoon and modern silver to create this "Deepest Deeperer spoon"
"Carafe and four Cups". by Grant McCaig 2010 Pleated Fine Silver, seamed and hand raised.
"Heptagonal Covered Jug" by Hector Miller, 2010 The lid is hinged and can fold down to form a handle for the jug. Sterling silver, formed, cast and fused construction with enamel by Frances Loyen.
"Becoming Spherical I" and "Becoming Spherical II" by Lucian Taylor, 2010 Fine silver - sections TIG welded together, then hydroformed. (I'm not sure which is which)
"Plunging Form" by Sarah Denny, 2010 Hand-raised from a single flat sheet of Britannia silver. Britannia silver is a non-standard alloy of Sterling silver where the 7.5% non silver (usually copper) is reduced to 4.16%. It was instituted during the reign of William III to try and stem the clipping of coins.
"Spiritus" by Theresa Nguyen, 2010 Fold-formed, hammered and soldered.
"Liner Jug" by Toby Russell, 2010 Sterling silver - scored and folded by hand from flat sheet.



Summer is here, which means it is time for the watches for Only Watch 2011(previously mentioned) to start trickling out.  MB & F (previously mentioned) has set quite a high bar with their modified HM4 Thunderbolt.  Working from an ink drawing, by Huang Hankang, of a Panda riding a rocket ship, they cast a little Panda from white gold and gave it a seat on the Thunderbolt. He controls the machine with reins woven also from 18k gold and Huang's signature is etched into the bottom sapphire crystal, one of 5 on the titanium watch case.

Click any for larger versions




A Clock of Watches

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No, not the new term for a group of watches, that is a 'confusion', this is a clock, which indicates the current time, only apparently to the nearest hour, build out of 12 watches.  Bell and Ross took 12 automatic watches and designed the sections of the dial to indicate a number between 1 and 12, when all the sections line up.  Then they skewed the watches so they line up at that hour.  Finally all the watches are installed into a custom winder mechanism, so you don't have to take each one out and wind it.  I think it is one of the more interesting things B&R have done, but that is more of an indictment of their usual work.

Twelve O'Clock




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