Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Starting point...

My starting point for my current project came from antique jewellery, mainly cameos. 
I was fascinated by the way that the technique and style has stood the test of time from Ancient Civilisations to current High street trends, as well as the stories the designs held and the significance of the items. 

A cameo is a small stone or shell that is carved in raised relief - the upper layer is cut away in raised relief while the lower one is revealed as a blank ground.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans uses carved cameos onto semi- precious gemstones depicting the Mythology they based their religions on; for example the popular The Graces design shows the Greek mythological figures Agilia (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth), and Thalia (Good Cheer).

Cameos surged in popularity during the 16th century, The Renaissance artists developed their own technique, using the shell of a mussel or cowry to carve their cameos rather than hardstone. (This is why the Renaissance cameos are typically white on a grayish background.) 
In Britain Cameos became extremely popular during the 1800's both antique and new English Wedgewood items became extremely popular, the trend continued into the Victorian period as Queen Victoria herself made cameos a fashionable item and by the mid 1900's designs were being mass produced in Britain.

Throughout time cameos have been worn as pendants and brooches and as with most jewellery they are often items given to loved ones, hold many stories and ideologies from the time period.

As well as the jewellery itself, I also wanted to look at the surface designs this style has inspired, for example the wallpaper  and bed cover below created using silhouettes and cameo style images.

Cameos are currently very on trend in both high fashion and high street designers, designer Lulu Guinness recently released a collection on bags, purses and umbrellas with a simple, modern design inspired by cameo jewellery. The necklace from by Freedom at Topshop is one of many vintage style items featuring cameos on the high street at the moment. 

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