Jewelry artist Catherine Chandler creates unique nature inspired jewelry that captures the image and movement of plants and other natural objects in an artistic presentation.
About Catherine Chandler
Oregon-born Catherine Chandler holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from the South Australian School of Arts. Her jewelry collections focus on nature themes with an elegant minimalist approach, particularly unusual plants and endangered plant species. She has worked as a professional artist for eight years and currently operates out of Portland, Oregon.
Catherine Chandler sees art in nature and turns her vision of nature into a new art form.
LoveToKnow (LTK): What inspired you to become a jewelry designer? When did you decide to pursue a career in metalsmithing and organic jewelry?
Chandler: The defining moment for me was when I took my first jewelry and metalsmithing class in college. I had intended to major in photography…but once I discovered the ability to transform a flat sheet of metal into a three dimensional object, I felt I'd found my true passion.
LTK: You are also a sculptor. Are you inspired by the same type of things for your sculpture as jewelry?
Chandler: Certainly a sculpture has inspired some jewelry pieces, but not so much the other way around…A lot of my jewelry tends to be more sculptural, as I view jewelry as miniature sculptures in a lot of ways.
Nature Inspired Jewelry
LTK: In your artist statement, you describe your art jewelry as "minimalist with an organic quality and (that) it is often influenced by flora and fauna of places (you) love". Could you explain how your jewelry captures this idea with some examples of your work?
Chandler: Some great examples of this would be my Paralucia spinifera series, which were a series of rings that represented different aspects of the Bathurst Copper Butterfly, an endangered species from Australia. I also have created a series of titanium rings that were anodized to match the colors of a variety of endangered plant species in Australia. My Seed Pod Earrings represent the seed pods of Jacaranda trees that I had at my home in Australia, and I am currently working on developing a series with native plant species from Oregon. I try to keep clean lines in my jewelry to enhance the form, which is usually a bit of an abstracted version of the inspiration.
Personal Experiences Influence Art
LTK: How did your art education in Australia influence your artwork?
Chandler: My education in Australia was very concept-based, and I was highly influenced by the minimal, abstract aesthetic that I saw so much there. I find that in the U.S. there tends to be more narrative in work, as well as texture and detail. I have started incorporating more texture into my work but still lean more towards a more abstract look.
LTK: You artist statement also says that your jewelry is influenced by "family history, death, dreams, forgiveness and personal experiences." Could you give some examples of jewelry that convey these ideas?
Chandler: A few years ago, I created a series of pieces that were influenced by my father's passing. He had always wanted his ashes spread at the top of Mt. Tallac near Fallen Leaf Lake, California, where we had a family cabin. After we spread his ashes, I collected soil from the top of the mountain, and water from the lake below, and brought that back home with me. I developed a leaf shape and made hollow leaf shapes that were filled with cement that incorporated the soil and water from Fallen Leaf Lake. In this group, there was a pair of earrings, a necklace, a ring, and two money clips, all for various family members.
Jewelry Design Techniques
LTK: What type of jewelry design and metalsmith techniques do you use in your art?
Chandler: I tend to use a lot of hollow forming with my hydraulic press, as well as simple forms using piercing and texturing techniques.
Her Artistic Vision
LTK: What do you hope people will see in your jewelry or experience when wearing it?
Chandler: When I make jewelry based on endangered species, I have the hope that it will serve not only as beautiful wearable art, but as a jumping off point for conversation and a bit of education. We learn a lot about endangered animals, but little attention is paid to endangered plants or even endangered insects, which are a vital part of our ecosystem. The jewelry and art that I am attracted to takes my breath away, and I hope that mine does that for some people as well.
LTK: What is the most original piece of jewelry that you made and why?
Chandler: I would have to say that my Words Unsaid brooch would be my most original piece. It was inspired by all those times we have something to say, but we decide not to. We push them down inside ourselves, or crumple up the paper and throw it away, for multiple reasons. I used chasing, repousse and raising techniques to create the brooch, which looks a bit like a crumpled piece of paper (very difficult to re-create in metal), and hid a pocket in the back of it that holds a necklace with some of those 'unsaid words' on it.
Jewelry for a Cause
LTK: You do a great deal of jewelry work that benefits specific causes and charities. Could you describe some of your jewelry benefit work?
Chandler: As a young girl, I dreamt of opening some sort of a shelter or business for those in need. I wondered for a long time how I could still give to those in need through my jewelry work, and finally decided to start Helping Others. I am finding causes to donate to, like Aussie Helpers, or Haiti relief, and try to make jewelry specific to that cause. Once those items are purchased, I wait until I know the customer is totally satisfied with their purchase, and then donate the proceeds to the designated cause. I also hope to start volunteering for an organization here in Portland that helps troubled youth.
For More Information on Catherine Chandler
LoveToKnow thanks Catherine Chandler for her inspirational interview and wish her the best of luck in all of her future endeavors.