Vue de Paris

August 15, 2009 at 2:55 am (Artist Musings)

“The sweetness and generosity and politeness and gentleness and humanity of the French had shown me how lovely life can be if one takes time to be friendly… Oh, how I adored sweet and natural France, with its human warmth, wonderful smells, graciousness, coziness and freedom of spirit.” [Julia Child, My Life in France]

Francophiles unite! The success of the movie Julie & Julia has sparked a newfound interest in everything French. Why not? It’s easy to romanticize France? Everything sounds better in France. It is a romance language after all. “Even their songs are swoon-worthy.” [From Joanna Goddard’s Marie Claire Blog] And of course, there is the food.

“This is the kind of food that I have fallen in love with: not trendy souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat. It was classic French cooking, where the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared. Or, in the words of the famous gastronome Curnonsky, ‘Food that tastes of what it is.’ ” [Julia Child]

I saw the movie and loved it, but since I don’t cook (at least not well), I thought it would be appropriate to pay homage to Julia’s “sweet and natural France” by taking a look at my Vue de Paris collection.

I did my first craft show in 2004 in Durham, North Carolina. I affectionately refer to this first show experience as “a river runs through it” because it was cold and rainy, and there I was on the street with a river of water literally running through my booth. But on that cold and rainy day, I sold my first bracelet, The Vue de Paris tile bracelet. The success of that first sale sent me back to the studio to create a Vue de Paris collection. Much of the Vue de Paris collection is inspired by the 1890’s Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau movements, an attempt to eradicate the dividing line between art and audience. Everything could and should be art. Burne-Jones designed wallpaper, Hector Guimard designed metro stations, and Alphonse Mucha designed advertisements and stage sets. The 1890’s were also the golden age of the lithographic poster. Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Toulouse-Lautrec all produced highly original masterpieces which elevated the poster into an art form.
The centerpiece of the Vue de Paris collection is my Much Ado About Mucha necklace. Although Alphonse Mucha wasn’t born in France (he was born in what is known today as the Czech Republic), he moved to Paris in 1887 and seven years later designed his first poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s Gismonda. For this necklace, Art Nouveau poster images are transferred to clay and hand-formed into the beads. But what I am most proud of about this necklace is the clasp. On a visit to Miami a few years ago , a gallery owner told me that he wouldn’t buy jewelry from any artist who didn’t make their own clasps. Upon returning to my studio in Raleigh, I set forth on a quest to create a clasp design that would not only cinch the necklace but be the focal point of the piece. The end result was this clasp, in which two Alphonse Mucha poster images for Sarah Bernhardt are impressed into fine silver. This necklace appeared in the 2006 in Ornament Magazine. Pieces from my Vue de Paris collection can be found in my studio at Artspace, at galleries, and online. The collection consists of bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. And of course, I am always thinking about new French inspired designs to cook up and add to it.



  1. Kim said,

    You wouldn't believe the run we've had on the book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Are you going to be doing an new French collection in honor of the renewed interest in all things French? -Kim


  2. Lauren said,

    I don't know. I am on the look out for new images all the time, so as I find new images, I will add them to the collection.


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