Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Metalsmith an Jewelry Artisan: Lauren Blais

As future metalsmith and jewelry artisan Lauren Blais grew up in Rhode Island, she became hooked on fashion and design. With the goal of becoming a fashion designer in her sights, she took several courses at the Rhode Island School of Design to achieve it.  However, when Balis took a Beginning Jewelry course her plans slowly changed and by the time she worked with Providence artist Boris Bally; jewelry became her career goal. 

After RISD, she enrolled at the Massachusetts College of Art to study small metals and how to be a metalsmith. After graduating in 2008, Blais opened her own studio. The jewelry she makes is influenced by Victorian Mourning jewelry worn by Queen Victoria of England upon the death of her beloved husband Albert.  She wore black dresses and jewelry to match often made from jet or another dark material like tortoise shell.  This spurred others in the country and across Europe to want their own mourning jewelry to celebrate loved ones they lost too.  

 The mourning jewelry of the time was intricate in detail and held great beauty some pieces were made from the same elements as Queen Victoria’s and others were created from human hair, featured photos of a loved one, or a carved cameo likeness set in gold or silver. Blais wants her jewelry to have the same feel and to tell a story. Only she wants the story to continue beyond creation but keep going as the jewelry passes from one customer to another family member and then to another and so forth each generation.

The materials Blais uses are leather, fur, silver, raw gemstones, and gold – often pairing two or more of these elements together into a piece or pieces of jewelry.  She also makes each component of the jewelry as much as possible by hand whether it is the links that create a necklace chain or the clasp of a bracelet. Blais strives overall to ensure her jewelry blends the old and new together to create unique pieces of jewelry.  

Last year I found Lauren Blais jewelry in a happy accident surfing the Internet and I knew I had to add her pieces to the website.  You can see them by clicking on Gemstones and choosing the sub category Jewelry Sets.