Jewelry in the Keys of Life

Jewelry in the Keys of Life

“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” –Steve Wonder

  I have such a fond memory of my mother playing the piano when I was little. I would gaze at her fingers moving effortlessly over the black and white keys, amazed that the pages speckled with black notes before her translated into cascading chords of music.

 One of the first melodies I remember truly gravitating towards was “Music Box Dancer” by Frank Mills. It was such a playful little song and I would take such delight when it would come on the radio. I remember begging my mother to learn that song for me and she obliged and I would laugh and dance in circles around the living room in whenever she played the tune.

Recently a long time friend of mine reached out to me with a unique jewelry challenge. Her mother had passed away a couple year earlier. She had inherited a gorgeous antique piano that had been in her family for generations. Built in 1910, this piano arrived by train to the far north of Minnesota and made its way to her grandmother’s home. It would be passed down two generations.

By the time it came into her possession it was old and in need of repairs. All the keys needed to be replaced. They discovered the keys are real ivory before it was banned for sale and use in the United States in the 1940s. She asked if I could create three pairs of earrings from some of the ivory keys. I was immediately excited to accept the challenge.

Spreading out the pieces and drawing out ideas I set to work on some prototypes. I knew my friend enjoys wearing larger earrings and that she wanted me to use the larger keys that had been graced by her mother’s fingers and where her prints may still remain. We agreed on a design and what followed were many patient hours of sawing, torching, texturing, and setting.        

I love it when I have the opportunity to create a piece of jewelry that will hold a deep significance for the wearer. It’s an honor to be able to capture a small essence of a memory into a tangible piece of jewelry, in this case, the memory of one’s mother playing the music she loved, much like my own.

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