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Victorian Hairwork by Karen Bachmann
May 21, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Having been trained in traditional jewelry making techniques, I aim to bring this knowledge to working with non-traditional and alternative materials. In my undergraduate work, I studied both sculpture and metals, and art history for my graduate degree. I try to combine my skills in fine jewelry construction with bygone jewelry techniques, such as traditional Victorian hairwork. I use wax carving, gilding, metal wire work, and various iterations of Victorian hairwork (most often seen in 19th century mourning jewelry and wall pieces).
In addition to my love of the sculptural form, I am also drawn to concepts around remembrance and the souvenirs we use to recall events and people from our history. This has led me to explore reliquaries and the preservation of human and animal relics. The veneration of a saint’s bones or the sentimental rhetoric attached to a lock of a hair are two examples of how we ascribe memory status to anatomical relic. I have written and lectured on this topic extensively, and it has even manifested itself in my current exploration of ethical taxidermy (I only use naturally deceased animals or roadkill) in small object sculpture and fashion accessories. While some may see this as morbid, I see it as a way of paying homage to a life. It allows me to combine and explore other alternative materials, found objects, and metal specific techniques.
Karen Bachmann specializes in jewelry, hollowware, and decorative art. She has special interests in medieval, memento mori, Renaissance, Baroque, and 19th century hairwork. Her studio work revolves around modern iterations of the genre of hairwork, incorporated into jewelry, wearable art, and decorative objects. She is a practicing studio jeweler with over 25 years of experience creating fine jewelry and is a former master jeweler at Tiffany & Co. At Pratt, she teaches in both the Art History and Fine Art departments. She is also an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
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