Repoussé, Russian Filigree, Chased, and Engraved Miniature Bookcase
18K Gold, Sterling Silver, Fine Silver
© 1997, Victoria Lansford
2-1/2″ x 1-3/4″ x 3/4″
This piece was featured in Metalsmith magazine’s 2007 Exhibition in Print and will be part of Framing · The Art of Jewelry at SOFA in Chicago, 2007 and at The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon, 2008.
“How peaceful life would be without love, Adzo, how safe, how tranquil… how dull.” – from the movie, The Name of the Rose, based on the novel by Umberto Eco (Though the line is not in the book, it is very much worth quoting.)
One of my most favorite novels is The Name of the Rose, and its theme of the censorship of art and knowledge in the name of rigid religion inspired me to create this tiny library. The gothic arch is one of my beloved and frequently incorporated shapes, but also for this piece it seemed appropriate to use it to symbolize the sacredness of knowledge and the devotion we give it. This shape and the semi transparent doors represent the history of suppression and simultaneous preservation of art and writing by the Catholic church.
My entire life thus far feels as though it has been the continuous gathering and integration of experience and knowledge for the sake of creation. (This includes my slightly compulsive gathering of books!) On the book spines, I chased the names of some of the authors, artists, explorers, musicians, and books that have most influenced my work. Had I created this piece more recently, there would be a few other names, but even those might be traced to ones already there.
I created the inset repoussé facade of book spines from one sheet of silver and soldered the thick wires that are the ‘shelves’ afterwards to create a greater sense of depth. While most antique bookcases would have solid backs, the ones in my studio are open, so I chose to complete the tromp l’oeil effect this way via chasing and engraving. The positioning of the books also reflects my somewhat hurried and pack rat like shelving habits. The piece is designed so that it can be worn as a pin/pendant as well.
On some of the book spines:
The Name of the Rose
Tutankhamun (for Howard Carter and the artwork he discovered that inspired me to become a metalsmith)
The Tempest (although my favorite play by Shakespeare is Hamlet, this one seemed appropriate at the time)
Hildegard (von Bingen)