Marirose Jelicich

n a t u r a l   e v o l u t i o n

by Marbeth Schon

Pendant and necklace, ca. 1980s
Fused glass, carnelians, pearls, sterling silver

Upon meeting Marirose Jelicich, one is immediately attracted to her sincerity. There is a rare element of honesty about her, an integrity that arises perhaps from the clear artist's view of the natural world that pervades her work; whether it's a piece of jewelry, hollowware, or an ecclesiastical commission.

Marirose Jelicich in her studio

Born in 1946 in Sacramento, California, Marirose has never moved away and now lives and has her studio in midtown Sacramento on property once owned and lived on by her grandparents.

As a child, she had a natural inclination to become an artist.

"I liked art as a child," she says, "and can remember the classes ever Friday afternoon in school.  It was the one subject where I worked really well. My Father would bring home reams of paper and to color and draw on and that was just great for me. I remember a book of clowns I did and wish I still had it.  We did not have a lot in those days.  Play was simple.  I never thought of being an artist.  I just liked art and as I came along in life I associated more and more with it and the people who were artists.  Eben Haskell ,a silversmith and his wife, had to be the biggest influences in my life.  Always encouraging, helpful and always saying to stay with it.  If, ones keeps at it long enough it happens and of course we get better with age."

After attending private schools from which she received her first art training, Marirose obtained Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from California State University at Sacramento. She received her Liturgical Consulting Certification from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Institute for Liturgical Consultant. She also studied at the University of Hawaii and  traveled extensively in Europe, especially Italy.
Jewelry, her first love, has evolved from cast rings and bracelets to necklaces with fused glass components to sterling silver for department stores and recently to pieces that include natural objects such as beach pebbles, pearls, and coral. 

Pendant and necklace
Fused glass, dyed yellow jade, red branch coral and bead coral, sterling silver 
ca. 1980s


"I created a signature line of sterling jewelry many years ago that was in major department stores in the west--Weinstocks, Macys and Nordstrom. The Chicago Art Institute purchased a lot and I also had a number of boutiques I supplied here in the west.  Some of it could be collectable today.  I have since sold all of it even the master samples.  The design of this signature line originated from a jig saw puzzle."

Recent work
Bracelet and  charm bracelet
beach pebbles from Lake Tahoe, sterling silver, pearls

Two recent brooches:
Left: Lake Tahoe beach pebble, rutilated quartz, natural branch coral, pearl, sterling silver
Right: Lake Tahoe beach pebble, Venetian glass bead, pearls, sterling silver

Recent brooch
Lake Tahoe beach pebble, rutilated quartz, pearl, sterling silver

Necklace with pendant
Sterling silver, pearls, enamel, coral
ca. 2004

" The blue black pearl necklace is called 'Vacation'.  I have spent a great deal of time in Italy and the small enamel is of the area where I stayed.  It is where my mother's side of the family ( Bacchini & Leardini) came from.  Cattolica is in the San Giovanni region. Other items in the square (pendant) are things I have collected and the sterling piece that dangles from it is from the line of jewelry that originated from a jig saw puzzle that I did for the department store in the 90's ."

Marirose has spent much of her adult life teaching. She was an art instructor at American River Community College, Sacramento, California,  Cosumnes River Community College, Sacramento, California, and the University of California, Berkeley, University Extension. Though she enjoys educating others, she has a natural desire to create her own work and to continually evolve as an artist.  Beginning in the 1980s, she turned toward liturgical work, accepting commissions for chalices, goblets, crosses, vessels for communion, etc.

"Some things do become easier but the challenges are also there and I welcome them.  If we don't stretch we do not grow.  Liturgical work just came along.  I never had a real plan to be where I am today.  After college, I thought I would teach for the rest of my life.  But not so.  I loved teaching and still do today but the jobs just were not there and I was not willing to leave Sacramento and my family.  So, I entered a religious art show where I received my first commission to do chalices--18 of them.  I had teaching experience but not much (experience) when it came to business or casting metals on a larger scale.  Through trial, error, and some help, the commission was successful and has lead to many others throughout the United States."

Rev. Martin Brusato
Sterling silver ordination chalice
April 22, 1988

After winning a cash award for her first sterling silver goblet, Marirose received a commission to create liturgical vessels for The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento, California. This was followed by commissions in California for churches in Bakersfield, Vallejo, Sacramento, Oakland, Hayward, Stockton, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Yuba City, Galt, Monterey, Orange, Los Angeles and San Francisco. She also has designed sterling silver objects for prelates in Leven, Belgium; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Phoenix, Arizona.

Marirose approaches a liturgical vessel as if it were "a fine, fine, beautiful object, like a piece of jewelry" and believes that with good design and excellent craftsmanship, her objects should last a lifetime, "passed on from one generation to the next." 1

As well as the beauty and craftsmanship of her designs for Cathedral commissions, Marirose must also be aware of practical limitations; "each work must be,.....ergonomic (and) functional in the hands of those who must carry the processional cross and candlesticks, incense containers, and so forth. She works alone in her studio, but does sub-contracting for various stages of the fabrication."2

"I have always been interested in thee-dimensional sculptural forms.  I like the cleanness of black and white, and the purity of form that I define as uncluttered, exquisitely beautiful and simple yet functional."

"As an artist, I experimented with different materials until I found one with which I was both comfortable and challenged by:  metals, especially sterling silver.  My two favorite parts of the process are the casting and fabricating stages. Working with the two processes together or singly gives one almost unlimited design possibilities, keeping in mind that a piece requires both good design and craftsmanship.  If either is lacking the piece will not be successful.  Client satisfaction is also important, stimulating creativity in the execution of the piece. " (Marirose Jelicich : Artist Statement)

Processional Cross for Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral
Gemstones, glass, aluminum, brass
 ca. 2002


Marirose's  concept for the (Los Angeles) Cathedral's appointments was formed by Los Angeles being the City of Angels. "I drew a lot of my inspiration from the Heavenly Beings of Angels," she explains. She hopes people one hundred years from now will see the vessels, torches and cross as "beautiful as they were when they first came into the Cathedral, and that they will love them just as much as we do today."3

Communion set for St. Catherine's,  Vallejo, California

"I do not do much research on pieces I make.  Just so it works in the environment in which it is used. I think I am more concerned about how it works as well as making a statement about the people into which we have evolved.  I do not have an ecclesiastical connection or attachment to the piece.

Marirose is willing to take design risks in order to "translate a client's spiritual vision" into an object that is "in harmony with the spiritual and symbolic aspects of the Catholic Church." This attitude of flexibility and willingness to experiment coupled with excellent design and craftsmanship has brought her hundreds of commissions for liturgical objects from churches and private individuals and numerous awards for her work including the Bene award and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture Design of Excellence award.

She has exhibited her work at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Oakland, California; in Liturgical Training Publications, “Doing Good Works”;   E&A, Chicago, Illinois;  Liturgical Training Publications “How to Commission and Artist” 1991; and  Liturgical Training Publications “Caring for Metalware,” 1991.

Her work has been included in several articles and publications including Bread, Basket, Plate, and Cup, Vessels in the Liturgy, Liturgical Training Publications, 2001,  Edited by David Philippart


Paschal Candle
Our Lady of the Angels Cathredral
Los Angeles, California

Communion cup
Stainless steel and brass
Part of a set of seven made  for All Saints Parish in Hayward, California
ca. 2002 

Sterling silver ordination chalice and sterling paten for Fr. John Talesfore
ca. 1989

Communion Set
Vessels, flagon, and  plate
Sterling silver and hand-blown glass
Made for Holy Redeemer Parish, Montrose, California
ca. 2004

Ordination Chalice
Sterling silver, black Virginia soap stone, black onyx. 

Red wine goblet
Black Virginia soap stone, turquoise, sterling silver
Artist's collection

Easter fire brazier
 Cor-Ten steel
Santa Maria Parish
 Orinda, California
  ca. 2004


Marirose's work evolves naturally into the 21st century as she experiments with different designs, techniques, and materials. She wants to create more jewelry and handmade one-of-a-kind pieces. Like her latest jewelry with the Lake Tahoe beach pebbles, natural branch coral, and pearls, she wishes to continue to incorporate natural materials.
"In the future I would like to do more jewelry work along with totally handwrought chalices and wine goblets--one of a kind pieces."
"I enjoy working with natural-- true and real objects-- honest stuff.  Who knows, as the world evolves as I do, what other real things I may discover to incorporate into my work".

Holy Thursday foot-washing bowl and pitcher
 Powder coated aluminum.

Marirose at her workbench finishing a goblet



Article by Marbeth Schon
Photos courtesy of Marirose Jelicich
Web design by Marbeth Schon

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