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January 2000

Precious Metals & Bench: News

Nature as Inspiration

Nature motifs appeal to consumers' yearning to be connected to the earth and its cycles

People are searching for inner fulfillment and need to be connected to the harmony of the natural forces and cycles of the planet – her weather systems and wilderness. We've lost the balance between the natural world and the manufactured world, becoming a culture of numbed shoppers. Where is the substance of the life force in our day-to-day existence?

One good way to become anchored in this time of breathtaking technological and commercial change is to base modern designs on the primordial elements that have always been essential resources of the artist. Through these classic elements, the vitality of life continues in our modern products.

I caution anyone looking to create a brand or develop a mythical image to look at the critical role of these design elements. They are the bridge to the dream state from which art draws its power. Because we draw power and inspiration from art, it makes sense to study these symbols.
Images from nature are symbols of what famed psychiatrist Carl Jung called the great "collective consciousness." In other words, people anywhere on earth have similar understandings of these images.

On this and the following pages are pictures of primordial design elements and of jewelry into which I've incorporated these elements. Jewelry can help people carry the spirit of raw natural beauty that we lose through daily modern life. In this way, I can illustrate how the jewelry artist is a conduit from the natural world to the modern wearer.

by Robert Lee Morris

This article is excerpted from several speeches Robert Lee Morris made to various audiences last year. Morris is an award-winning jewelry designer who spends downtime on his land in New Mexico, from which he draws many design inspirations.

Spider Web
This classic design element has symbolized the spirit of creativity for centuries. The spider web is a symbol of intrigue and entrapment as well as shelter and architectural structure. The web inspired my Web of Life necklace. As if I were looking under a microscope at a network of cells with the diamond as the nuclei, I wanted this necklace to evoke the oneness of all things. It's a reversible piece, with pearls on the other side, like day and night, moon and sun, a soft and hard poetic statement.

The Hurricane
Swirling and coiling clouds always fascinate us. We let our minds leave our bodies and follow into the vortex of spinning shapes. This series of jewelry is based on a metal toy we all know; it's all about moving up and down a vortex of spiraling force. I have fashioned delicate concentric bands of forged gold dotted with diamonds.

Plant Tendrils
Delicate plant forms like this tendril are shaped by photosynthesis, a yearning for the sun, an upward growth that is another form of spinning and turning, a symbol of youth and purity. It also conjures up the sensations of binding and wrapping, of vitality and inner force. This triple-banded cuff is inspired by plants' natural growth movements and wraps itself like a vine around the wrist.

Pebbles – smooth beach stones gathered in clusters by the force of water – are one of my design obsessions. The qualities of the stone – weight, smooth surface, soft yet hard, pure and spare –  are organically sensual. My Waterstone collection, shown here in gold with pearls, is a wonderful translation of the spirit of soft stones. This jewelry carries a therapeutic feeling of comfort and tranquility, much like a worry stone worn smooth by constant rubbing. The pearls lie in little depressions and look like they're relaxing in their beds.

The S Curve
The bend in the river, the whiplash of the snake, undulating movement – what a primordial and sexy classic design element. This is how passion must look. It was an inspiration for the entire Art Nouveau movement. Here, I use the motif in a hairpin-curve forged silver necklace. It's clean and modern yet speaks to an ancient knowledge of natural forms.

Shells and coral bedazzle us with their variety and inventiveness. From the very simple to the complex shapes, these marine shelters have provided artists with ideas since we first found them on beaches. My curved tear necklace with pearls is a tribute to aquatic life forms. I've tried to convey the feeling of water and the environment where everything floats and bobs effortlessly.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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