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b y    P a t r i c k   K a p t y

Chiaroscuro Openings Bangle Bracelet

Karen McCreary's jewelry is evocative of future civilizations and interstellar cultures, and if you have ever seen an episode of one of the many Star Trek television incarnations then you have already seen at least one of her designs.

Pulse Vector

 

However, Karen's body of work is much more than just sci-fi accessories, and over the course of her three decade career she has assembled an amazing catalog of designs while investigating alternative materials and techniques in jewelry.

Chiaroscuro Cone Drop Earrings

Visiting Karen McCreary in her studio was, for me, like a kid visiting a precisely and personally tailored candy store of delights. I'd already been intrigued by a couple examples of her work that a friend had shown me, and after fortuitously meeting Karen at a lecture given by Helen Drutt at LACMA, arranged to meet later when her schedule allowed. What an eye-opener!

Light Points

 

Quadrant A

A Question of Stability

Karen's investigation into the use of alternative materials in jewelry began at a time when the more traditional materials like gold, and even silver, were prohibitively expensive. Even so, some of her early pieces were constructed of metals that were then given a surface treatment to resemble plastics and other non-traditional materials. The earliest piece shown here, though constructed of more traditional materials, is an interesting investigation into kinetic design in jewelry, and illustrates Karen's exploratory approach to jewelry-making from the beginning. The "Rocket Pin" from 1979 was her very first venture into electronic jewelry and is constructed of sterling silver with acrylic and electronic circuits.



Murrha
 sterling silver, fluorite, and resin  1978

Rocket Pin
 1979

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LUD 1980

 

"LUD 1980" was made while she was still a student at CSU - Long Beach, and is fabricated in bronze and industrial flexible piping, both with a gray finish that resembles plastic.

In 1983 Karen opened TDM Studio and has since then compiled an extensive list of participation in various local, national, and international exhibitions and crafts shows, as well as being featured in many books on innovative jewelry and crafts publications. Her jewelry can be found in fine crafts galleries and museum shops including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Museum Store.

Pulse Quadrant

Reflection Bracelet

Pulsar Collar

A long time fan of the original "Star Trek" television series and science fiction in general, Karen was approached by the production staff of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to design the rank insignia for the Enterprise crew. Her work has also been featured in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", "Star Trek: Voyager", and in several motion pictures.


Karen's work is not just an investigation into alternative jewelry materials, but also an ongoing research into technological techniques to enhance her designs. Several of her pieces shown here have electronic circuits that cause her jewelry to light in various intervals and patterns, some are motion-activated utilizing little mercury switches, and others employ phosphorescence to bio-illuminate.

Summer Leaves Necklace

Radial Pulse Emitter

Inclined View B
brooch
acrylic and aluminum
1992

 Another interesting sub-genre of her jewelry are her "Inclined View B" and "Inclined View D" brooches made of acrylic plastic, aluminum, and mixed media that are wall hangings with detachable brooches inset. 

Inclined View D
wall hanging with brooch


Inclined View D
brooch 
acrylic and aluminum
 1992

Reflection Brooches

Karen McCreary's artist statement begins with the sentence, "I am inspired by the scientific impulse to observe, explore, and describe". Nowhere was this more apparent than in my visit to her studio, where I was privileged to see examples of her sculpture and other art work that have sprung from her intensely creative mind over the course of her career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection Point A

 I strongly recommend a visit to Karen McCreary, and her jewelry, either at her studio, or at one of the fine crafts shows in which she participates, to fully appreciate her work. Residents of Southern California will be able to view her work at the upcoming "Socal 2002: A Studio Jewelry Exhibition" at the Irvine Fine Arts Center from August 3 - 30, 2002.

Target Rich

Karen McCreary
Artist Photo

Please visit Karen's website for a complete listing of her upcoming schedule…

http://www.galleryred.com/mccreary

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Article by Patrick Kapty
“Patrick Kapty California Dreamin Retro Modern”
(760) 671-4879
 
http://stores.ebay.com/California-Dreamin-Retro-Modern-ETC 


Photographs courtesy Karen McCreary
Web design by Marbeth Schon & Patrick Kapty
 Copyright ©  Modern Silver magazine 2002

    
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