Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Sherman Jewellery Book

Sandra Caldwell and Evelyn Yallen have created, or should I say compiled, the most comprehensive book of Sherman Jewellery photographs in existence. If you're like me, and you hunt unsigned Sherman at yard sales, rummage sales and estate auctions, make The Masterpiece Collection your new reference manual.

Sherman Jewellery, The Masterpiece Collection is a 216 page 8-1/2 x 11 hardcover in full colour that features the best of the best of Sherman, including figurals, men's jewellery, unusual colour combinations, beads, art glass, and an illustrated chapter on the signed vs. unsigned debate.

More importantly, Sandra Caldwell and Evelyn Yallen are expert collectors and therefore skilled at summarizing the subtleties of Sherman; every sentence makes readers more aware of the jewelry design business and the realities of the post war Canadian fashion marketplace. The Masterpiece Collection offers a look at some of the rarest Sherman pieces, and focuses on the many colours of Swarovski stones he used to create his designs. Buying and reading this book will make you an expert in Sherman jewelry. More details about Hunting Unsigned Sherman in the Dumpdiggers Library.

Table of Contents

Why We Collect
Sherman: A Brief History
Prices and pricing Sherman
Signed vs Unsigned: The Great Debate
Clear Jewelry
Aurora Borealis and Topaz Jewelry
Black, grey and hematite jewelry
Blue Jewelry
Green Jewelry
Red and pink jewelry
Purple and alexandrite jewelry
Unusual colours
Art glass, gold tone and men’s jewellery
Figurals and centennials
Last but not least

The book details market trends and Canadian competitors like Artistic, Continental and Keyes. It also references American firms like Boucher, Coro, and Trifari. Wisdom is shared in short sentences like, ’Much as Boucher is known for his use of baguette stones, Sherman loved marquise stones and used them liberally. It is one of the features that makes a piece of Sherman jewellery so identifiable.

Regarding the Great Debate: How much Sherman jewellery is unsigned? On page 12 and 13 there are no pictures. That anomaly alone should immediately signal readers that something important is written here. On these two pages Sandra and Evelyn have laid out their position on the great debate – they get down to business stating why they believe “there is a significant amount of unsigned Sherman” waiting to be found; because,

1. Sherman is hard to fake, and there would be very little profit in replications.
2. Original owners attest to buying both signed and unsigned pieces in same box.
3. Identical designs exist that are both signed and unsigned.
4. Sherman was often sold with cards and tags in gift boxes that served as a signature.

And let’s remember after all, it was just costume jewellery. Designers probably didnt feel obligated to sign their work as often in this fashion genre - because costume jewelery was considered disposable.

Aurora Borealis and Topaz Jewelry
Aurora, which is a technique for coating stones in 1955 by Swarovski, was a novel treatment that gave interesting depth to designs by allowing the same stone to take on a different appearance and colour. the authors state that they believe, based on years of experience collecting Sherman, that there is more Aurora Borealis and Topaz jewelry in existence than any other make

Regarding Green Jewelry
According to Sandra and Evelyn, green jewelry is the least popular colour of all costume jewelry and so accordingly there are fewer green Sherman designs – does this make green jewelry more expensive today? Not necessarily, it depends on the beauty and modern functionality and modern desirability more . But of particular interest is the wide rigid cuff bracelet in an uncommon pale, celadon green with the usual cabochon glass stones

The book shows rare pieces and uncommon designs using unfoiled, reverse set stones. Whenever possible it shows sets where everything matches, and time and time again the necklace is signed but the earrings are not signed or the bracelet is shown in the box with cardboard tag signature etc. This book is like having The Masterpiece Collection.

Sandra Caldwell and Evelyn Yallen have a website, on which there are far more details and ecommerce links to buy the book for $60 dollars.

If you have any questions about Sherman Jewellery or the Masterpiece Collection, they can be reached by email at theshermanbook AT gmail DOT com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Neal Kuellmer's Exceptional Art Glass

Here's some of Neal Kuellmer's art glass. He was working on more borosilicate glass (Pyrex) pieces like the ones below when last we met. Click the pictures - they expand.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Have You Ever Met A Borosilicate Lampworker?

Dumpdiggers met Neal Kuellmer, a borosilicate lampworker at his home studio on a rainy day, March 4th, 2009. He explained to me how lampworking is different than glassblowing; it requires a fraction of the energy and produces different results. Today its used to make intricate but functional art glass, jewelry, pipes and bongs.

Artist Neal Kuellmer of Metamorphosis Glassworks provides Canadian society with custom glass and functional art from his studio at 146 Brock Ave just north of Queen St W (other side of the bridge just past the beer store).

Unit 303 is at the back end of the top floor of an old industrial building (owned by Mervin of course) right off the railroad tracks opposite a primary school. The building is probably one of the last ‘artist communities’ left in Toronto, a city where sky high real estate prices have converted almost all of the old manufacturing and warehouse buildings into expensive urban condos. But this building proves there are still pockets of independent art production and manufacturing software, here and there, all along Queen West.

Neal has about twelve hundred square feet and two big windows under a metal roof upon which the rain outside beat a steady tattoo. Neal has the place all to himself, a creative domain in which to make his daily bread. The guy is pretty cool, he offered me a cold beer as soon I walked in the door and the beats were pumping. He posed for some pictures by the window before we got busy in his shop.

Neal doesn’t have a big blast furnace like the glassblowers at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre, but rather he uses a fat propane torch fixed to a bench. As I watched he worked a lump of material with glass rods – but I didn’t give him time to do anything fancy. Nor did I pause to learn anything about the processes; I'd have to experience it all over again to really understand it. While researching the subject however, I did find a great page on the history of lampwork in the Online Glass Museum.

Here’s what I do know: Kuellmer of Metamorphosis Glassworks makes functional art, jewelry, and ornaments to suit the public. He sells most of his work in shops along Queen St West and in special shows and exhibitions, some of which occur at his studio. Borosilicate glass is a type of glass with the main glass-forming constituents being silica and boron oxide. Borosilicate glass was first developed by German glassmaker Otto Schott in the late 19th century, and sold under the brand name "Duran" in 1893. After Corning Glass Works introduced Pyrex in 1915, it became a synonym for borosilicate glass in the English-speaking world. The European manufacturer of Pyrex, Arc International, still uses borosilicate glass to make its Pyrex glass kitchen products.

This coming spring and summer, Neal is opening his doors to the public, and will be sharing his studio and his experience with students. Do you want to make your own earrings? or how about a hanging mobile for your kitchen window? Neal is now taking appointments for one on one classes - that's the best way to learn the art and science of borosilicate lampwork. Very small classes (only one or two people each time) will be given five hours of information and practical execution, for one hundred dollars each. This fee covers all expenses and materials, anyone interested in learning the craft can email metaglass AT gmail DOT com.