Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bling: Impossible

This doesn't occur to me often. Sometimes I buy something just because I want it. Price doesn't matter. The last time this happened was when I passed by a store on Lexington Avenue and I saw a tie in the window. It was a hand-painted pastel stripe over a silk damask background. And that was over 15 years ago. When I got my Amex statement at the end of the month, my jaw dropped open. But damn, it was worth it.

This time it was cufflinks. And this time, I had them commissioned. Maybe it's been a delayed reaction to 9/11, but for a while, I've been thinking about the way timbers or metal beams fall when a building is razed. It appears to be chaotic, but I think there is some underlying organization to the fall and placement of the debris field itself.

Of course, there's no one else I'd trust with such an undertaking other than Russ. This definitely falls into the skill category of:

We decided early on this was another one of those projects that would need his 3D fabrication technology, so we started work with some conceptual designs in CAD.

The first ones looked mightily impressive. However, the images I saw on the screen were not exactly what I had pictured in my head. They were more regular - still chaotic, but everything with nice sharp corners and edges. I asked him if he could do a version somewhat more jumbled, which of course he obligingly did.

When I saw what I thought I wanted, I was disappointed. Leave to Russ to know me better than myself - his original design with the sharp edges appealed more to me. I gave him the go-ahead to start. We also discussed changing the stone from amethyst to a deep green topaz - the type of stone that everybody assumes what an emerald should look like.

Fast-forward four months later ...

I hold the objects of my obsession in my hands and they are jaw-droppingly amazing. I can't believe that they are real. I wasn't kidding when I said "Bling:Impossible" - these beauties are the result of a set of five artisans - jewelers, fabricators, CAD draftsmen and laser welding experts - coming together to produce something that is reminiscent of some of M.C. Escher's perspective art combined with the beauty and delicacy of European crown jewels (think of some of the Faberge masterpieces brought forward in time and with clean modern lines).

When Russ made the Mede-Killer pendant for my '300' outfit, I jokingly said he needed a new nom de guerre - the Choodler - since he was "chewing over some ideas and doodling." The name brought with it overtones of super-villainy combined with madly demented industriousness.

Another nickname is more than well-deserved in this case - because of the sheer volume of art, craft, magick and incredible workmanship put into these pieces. I think this passage from The Silmarillion suits him quite well:

For Feanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought ... then he began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and in the end of all he made the Silmarils...

As three great jewels they were in form ... Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared yet was more strong than adamant ... that crystal was ... the house of it's inner fire, that is within it and yet in all parts of it, and is its life ... the Silmarils of their own radiance shone like the stars of Varda; ... they rejoiced in light and received it and gave it back in hues more marvelous than before.

We also had decided that given the scope of this endeavor, we needed to do some "rock star" type of shots to showcase the cufflinks and the amazing detail put into them. Many thanks to Don West for modeling and Randy "Captain Smashy" Hearne for doing the photoshoot.

I'd like to speak more on the process and setup for these links, but I will let the master expound upon it on his site.

In closing, I can only think of one word to sum up this incredible, Feanorian work of art: