Studio Musings

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Backdoor to Jewelry

Wire Twined Baskets by Marilyn Moore

 Thursday night I attended the NW Bead Society's general meeting for the first time, excited to hear
 Marilyn Moore speak.  I've admired her work in galleries for some time.

Based upon the size of their Seedbeaders group, I expected the general meeting to be positively huge.  In fact, it was smaller than the Sunday meetings.  Still a good crowd, I'd say forty-ish people in attendance, but I'd put the Seedbeaders at half that again.

Met several new people - thank you to those who took time to speak to the newbie in the crowd.  You know who you were.

And then it was time for Marilyn's presentation.   A wonderful overview of her artistic career, spanning several decades, her slideshow was filled with lively stories and humor.  The title for this post is from her introduction.  As Marilyn put it, she "came to jewelry through the backdoor of basketry".

I always find it interesting to learn other artists' stories, so I'll share some of hers here:

Although her very first basket was twinned from natural materials she quote "discovered she didn't like being wet".   That said, she turned her attention to pine needle baskets, (while the pine needles are usually worked with damp, they're small enough you stay quite dry) and worked in that media for over ten years.  During that time, Marilyn experimented with shapes; creating some lovely, organic forms as well as more traditional 'baskets'.

Somewhere along the way, she discovered Teneriffe embroidery, which heavily influenced the decoration of her pine needle baskets and her early jewelry.  Its influence can still be seen in some of her work today.

As her stitching covered more and more of her forms, coming to completely obscure the pine needle cores, she moved from pine needles to coiled baskets using polished hemp as the core.  And she began experimenting with the color grading that is one of the outstanding signatures of her current work. 

When her daughter graduated from high school, both of them decided to enroll in college.  This made me smile, as my Mom and I did something similar.  (My mom majored in art history while I majored in Russian because I thought it more 'practical' than majoring in art, but that's a story for another day).

Not quite sure when she began working with the wire wrapped baskets that I equate with her work. I'm pretty sure I saw her work in a basketry show at the Fountainhead Gallery not long after we moved to Seattle, back around 2001-2002.

Besides her slide presentation, Marilyn brought a wonderful trunk show for us to admire.  Her current work reminds me of firebirds, oilslicks and living gems waiting in secret caverns.  Their saturated jewel tones radiate heat and vibrancy, even on the cooler side of the color spectrum.  While I admire her larger, sculptural works (definitely check out her gallery), I am particularly drawn to her miniature baskets, sized perfectly to fit in the palm of your hand.  The photo at the start of this post is one I took of a collection of these and doesn't do their colors justice.

To see more of Marilyn's work and a picture of the artist herself, check out her page on the NW Basketweavers site.

Guess I didn't talk much about her jewelry.  Oh well.  I love her baskets!


  1. Nothing beats for a presentation that is being prepared and dedicated of its presenter. Good job Marilyn!